The Anxiety that was actually Cancer

Before we begin I would like to put a disclaimer on this blog post: this was my experience with one doctors clinic, and it does not go for all general practitioners in the UK. Thank you.

More often than not, doctors are fantastic! I’ve always admired their hard-work and determination. The levels of education and studying that must be involved is impressive. I definitely couldn’t do what they do every day. It can’t be easy for them. Which is why this blog post has been so difficult for me to write, because I feel bad to be the one that had to have a bad experience with my doctors clinic. However, I feel like my voice needs to be heard, I’ve been quiet about my experience for too long because people do get misdiagnosed and ignored. I hope someone takes something away from this and learn from my experience. So please, hear me out.

I suppose we have to take it back to the very beginning…

My first appointment at the doctors clinic was very nerve-wracking as I had never really been to the doctors for anything serious before. The first was when I had an ear infection in my teens which was resolved quite quickly. This was different… I was alone, in a busy clinic; watching people come and go, hearing names being called and seeing unwell people. I wait anxiously for my name to be called. And when it did, one of the ladies working brought me into her room and sat me down, she asked for my symptoms and I told her: coughing, slight shortness of breath and a fever. She looked at me for a few seconds before deciding to examine me. She checked the basics, and listened to my lungs. It was a brief examination. It almost felt rushed. Understandably, the clinic seemed particularly busy that day but she didn’t make time to analyse me properly. She announced that I look young and healthy and the cough should go in a few weeks… don’t come back here. Having suffered with anxiety in the past, that comment made me feel really uncomfortable and I felt ashamed that I had wasted her time. Was nothing really wrong with me then? We’re the symptoms all in my head? The walk home from that appointment was painful. I remember feeling scarred with her words don’t come back here. I cried walking home.

Her words left me feeling reluctant to book another appointment but I could feel my symptoms slightly worsening and I wasn’t sure where else to go. The shortness of breath was paired up with a wheeze, and the coughing had become more persistent. I felt wary at first. But I went back to my clinic, twice… and both of the times had the same outcome: you look young and healthy, you’re twenty years old. The only difference was they told me it’s just your anxiety. I swallowed back the words in that moment, and felt my gut twist into knots. Am I going crazy? Is this the beginning of a nervous breakdown? She took a dagger and stabbed it deep because those words really messed with my head. Am I just making those symptoms up in my head? I couldn’t even tell what was real anymore…

They had referred me to do a CBT (cognitive-behavioural therapy) course to help the anxiety that I supposedly had. It felt like my last life-line… I filled out the forms for the course, and phoned the provider up. In my head, it was confirmed that I was mentally-unstable. I remember staring at the box on the questionnaire where it said have you ever had thoughts about suicide. And I stared at it for a good few minutes.

Each night I would send myself to sleep by crying and gasping for air. I felt like I was going crazy. It was the first time in my life, where I generally hated myself and despised living. Dark thoughts would always circulate in my mind and each day was becoming more of a chore to live. Nothing was alleviating the struggle I was going through… nothing was making me feel better. I had even tried meditation, educating myself on anxiety and teaching myself how to damn breathe properly. I felt alone in the world. No one was listening to me and no one was on my side. No one was helping me.

It wasn’t until I was visibly dying where they finally helped me…

For my peace of mind, and after many appointments they finally sent me for an x-ray on my chest, but…

They left it too late. My left lung was collapsed. And that’s when they tell me it’s cancer… damn cancer. But you know what? I felt somewhat relieved that they finally knew what it was. Because for a whole year, they made me believe that I was going crazy. I felt angry for a long time, upset that the what ifs crossed my mind. What if they listened to me sooner? I needed the surgery and chemotherapy asap. How big was the tumour during my first appointment? Maybe the treatment would have been less harsh. Maybe I wouldn’t have had to fly to Florida for the second half of my treatment. Just maybe…

I know we don’t get to live in a world where we can turn back time. So the what ifs are what I have to live with now. I know they won’t read this, but if I could say something to them:

I wish I could forgive you because I’m not normally a person who carries hatred. And I hope that you’ve learnt from my case: cancer doesn’t discriminate: even if someone looks young and healthy… listen to their cries for help. We turn to you for a reason. Maybe I should have demanded harder. Maybe you should have listened. When I was told I had cancer, I couldn’t even cry properly because it was really hard to breathe. I wasn’t even allowed to cry. I know you probably feel guilty and I’m sorry that this happened in the first place… cancer sucks. If you can do anything now to make this a little better, just listen to everyone: no matter how old they are, what background they come from, what gender they are… everyone deserves to be heard. We’re all worth listening to.

And to anyone who might be in a similar position I was in: keep fighting and don’t give up because the fight is worth it. You’re worth it. Demand that your voice is heard, because I wish I fought harder and I let them get to me. You owe it to yourself…

Expressing this in person has always been very difficult for me, so I’ve tried to be as raw as I can with my emotions through writing. That’s how I felt at the time.

Again, this was my experience, misdiagnosing and not listening can still happen. But I’m still VERY grateful to all those doctors, nurses and medical staff that took great care of me and got to me just in time. They really do save lives and I’m thankful to everyone in the medical field. This was one bad experience amongst a thousand good ones. It’s a horrible shame that it happened to me… and I hope you all go away with a new-found voice, because you all are worth listening to. No one deserves to go unheard. Thank you for reading.

If you’re in the UK you can call 111 if you have an urgent medical problem and you aren’t sure what to do.

Anxiety UK:

Phone: 03444 775 774 (Monday to Friday, 9.30am to 5.30pm) Anxiety UK is a charity that can offer support and advice to anyone who is struggling mentally.


13 thoughts on “The Anxiety that was actually Cancer

  1. The same thing happened to me when my son was six. I was treated like a overly anxious mother of a child with tonsillitis. It transpired that he had a massive tumour blocking his airway and it wasn’t his tonsils at all.
    I can understand how it was difficult for you to write this. Despite my son being a 2x survivor I cannot forgive how I was made to feel, but worse, the treatment my son endured was maybe harsher than it should’ve been.

    Liked by 1 person

    • No one should be made to feel like that, and I can’t believe how often children and young people are misdiagnosed. That must have been so devastating for you and your son. Thank you for sharing your story, and raising awareness with me.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you too. Misdiagnosis happens too often. Doctors just don’t believe that children and young people can get cancer. We have to keep raising awareness however hard that can be for us sometimes xx


  2. Hi Nicole
    Heartfelt blog. Regrettably not as uncommon as you would hope. I went first with bad cough and breathlessness walking uphill. I climbed Kilimanjaro last year so knew wasnt right! Told me to go away. 4 weeks later still had cough and lumps on neck. Doctor didnt even look at lumps and said show me someone in London that doesnt have a cough right now (it was winter). I suggested Lymphoma and was told lymph nodes meant to enlarge wiyh infection and that i did not have lymphoma! Finally whilst seeing a consultant for another matter they found bloods not all good and when showed them lumps…was investigated. I just felt GP was guarding NHS funds and tests are expensive.
    Wishing you all the best and hope you enjoyed Reading! My son came back exhausted yesterday! Mike

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Mike. I’m so sorry you had to go through being misdiagnosed as well. It’s such a devastating experience, to not only have cancer but to have been misdiagnosis and ignored on top of that. Thank you for sharing your story with me. Hopefully one day people like us, will be less ignored and instead listened to.

      Reading was really good as well, I’m also feeling the effects of it still but such an amazing experience. All the best! X


  3. It was almost eerie reading this as had ‘midgut’ been substituted for lung issues this is my story! I was losing weight (106 – 83 in 9 months), had awful GI issues, lots of itching, and flushing. My main doctor was a GI who insisted it was anxiety. Yet I wasn’t anxious – well, I was getting there with these symptoms. They sent me to a dermatologist who said while I clearly had itching (I had lines from scratching) she could find nothing wrong. They sent me to a GYN as I had flushing – which they took as hot flashes. Again, all well. It took a year of visiting doctors almost weekly to end up diagnosed as having midgut neuroendocrine cancer and, like you, I felt vindicated. I’m sorry you went through this. It is so wrong!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is so wrong how they treated you. I wonder why they just can’t put two and two together instead of creating multiple diagnosis’s😪 I’m so sorry you went through this as well, the pain and trauma of it all.. I wouldn’t wish upon anyone. Xx


  4. Hi Nicole. My husband was also misdiagnosed at the beginning. He was treated for muscle spasms and “disconnected ribs” before they dug deeper. By that time, he had stage 4 cancer. I have also wondered often what would have happened, had we found the cancer earlier. It took us a while to get past that question.


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