A newly-wed bride has encouraged others to trust their “gut feelings” and “check their lumps” after being diagnosed with a rare form of blood cancer the day before her 28th birthday.
Courtney Wilson-Calder from Leeds found a bulge on her neck earlier this year, but when she spoke to doctors in March, they told her it was just “swollen lymph nodes”.
When it grew and became painful, the hairdresser went to see a specialist who told her it could be cancer.
“I spent time away from work with loved ones who helped me come to terms with what I could be facing,” she said.
“I spoke to my fiancé and I decided I wanted to get married before I started any treatment.”
After arranging her wedding to partner Liam Calder in just five weeks, Wilson-Calder was informed by doctors that the bump was non-cancerous.
She said: “I relaxed, my friends planned me a hen do, and I was so happy and relieved.
“I married the man of my dreams, but we didn’t expect what was coming next.”
Devastatingly, the new bride discovered another lump on her neck and after another biopsy, she was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma the day before her 28th birthday.
The disease, which accounts for less than one per cent of all new cancer cases, develops in the network of vessels and glands that are spread throughout the body.
According to the NHS, it can develop at any age, but mostly affects people between the ages of 20 and 40 years of age and those over 75.
Around 2,100 people in the UK are diagnosed with the rare condition each year.
The exact cause of Hodgkin lymphoma is unknown.
After coming to terms with the shock diagnosis, Wilson-Calder took to TikTok to describe her experiences in an effort to encourage others to “check their lumps” and trust their “gut feelings”.
Her story quickly went viral, garnering hundreds of comments and over one million views.
She said: “Lymphoma symptoms can be hard to diagnose and recognise.
“I will shortly be starting treatment and my journey to getting better. I have a positive treatment plan in place and I’m ready to give this my all.
“[But] I want to encourage everyone of all ages to check their lumps and believe in their gut feeling.”
Wilson-Calder and her loved ones have sought solace in fundraising and raising awareness of the rare disease.
Her JustGiving page quickly exceeded its £500 target and currently stands at £4,500.
Sarah Thorn, community and partnerships manager at Lymphoma Action, said the charity was thankful to Wilson-Calder for raising awareness of the condition.
She said: “Everyone at Lymphoma Action is thinking of Courtney and wishing her the very best with her treatment.
“We want to say a huge thank you to her for so bravely raising awareness of lymphoma and fundraising for us, especially when she has only just received her diagnosis”.
Additional reporting by SWNS