Stirling Student Urges Young People to Get Checked as Part of #BestToCheck

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Stirling University student Nicole Lowther is urging young people to check their bodies for signs of cancer and contact their GP with any concerns after being misdiagnosed several times.

Nicole is promoting the Teenage Cancer Trust’s #BestToCheck campaign which was launched this year after a decrease in testing because of the Coronavirus pandemic.

The Teenage Cancer Trust launched the campaign after noticing there had been a 75% drop in cancer referrals. Already, the trust found teenagers were having to go to their GP at least three times before they were referred to a specialist.

Nicole, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2018 at only 17 and had been continually misdiagnosed despite having a number of the most common symptoms.

Nicole (centre, white t-shirt) with family and friends after her last round of chemotherapy. Image credit: Nicole Lowther

She was eventually taken to the Beatson Cancer Centre where she underwent six months chemotherapy. Once in remission and almost back into normal life, Nicole, from Queenzieburn Glasgow, was asked to shield during the coronavirus pandemic.

The five most common symptoms are: –

  • Lumps, Bumps and Swells
  • Unexplained tiredness
  • Mole Changes
  • Persistent pain
  • Significant weight change

Other symptoms include:

  • Unexplained bruising
  • Night sweats
  • Headaches

Nicole had noticed a lump on her neck near her collarbone and had been experiencing tiredness, sometimes even feeling drained and close to sleeping in classes at school.

Nicole who is now 19 and studying Psychology and Biology said: “At the end of the day, your body is your longest commitment. You need to take care of it.

Image Credit: Nicole Lowther

“You know your body best and if you think somethings not right then keep going to the doctor and keep pushing.”

GPs are also being encouraged to listen closely to their patients to refer them at the earliest possible chance.

Dr Louise Sloans, Direct Services at Teenage Cancer Trust said: “Every day around seven young people aged 13-24 are diagnosed with cancer in the UK.

“We know that across all age groups, cancer referrals have fallen by as much as 75% during the Coronavirus pandemic, and with the anecdotal evidence we’ve gathered, we fear that many 13-24 year olds will be deterred from contacting their GP, not wanting to add pressure to the health service.

“We know that cancer can be harder to treat if it’s not diagnosed early, but young people can be slower to visit their GP with symptoms. It can also take longer for them to be referred to specialist. That’s why putting off an appointment will make things harder for the NHS in the long term.

“My message to all teenagers and young adults is simple. Familiarise yourself with the symptoms of cancer and if you are worried, contact your GP. Don’t ignore any changes to your body that you are seeing; it can be worrying, but it’s important to get anything checked out. The health service is still very much open and wants to support you.”

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Feature Image Credit: Nicole Lowther- (Nicole and her nephew after her last round of chemoterapy)

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Journalism and Politics student// Editor-in-Chief 2021/22

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