A ‘super-fit’ woman who put bouts of dizziness down to not trying hard enough at the gym has been diagnosed with a type of blood cancer.
Taylor Davis, now 26, from San Diego, California, put the spinning sensation down to not lifting heavy enough weights when it emerged in September last year.
But over the next three months, she developed a persistent wet cough, swelling in the face, unexplained weight loss and light bruises emerged on her arms and knees — prompting her to get checked by doctors.
It was then that she was diagnosed with stage four lymphoma and a tumor in her lungs.
Doctors immediately put her on chemotherapy and the cancer is now in remission, but she must go for monthly checkups in case it returns.
Taylor Davis, now 26 and from San Diego, California, (Pictured above before the diagnosis) was told she had a type of blood cancer after seeking help for a persistent cough
She is pictured above during chemotherapy, which had caused her hair to fall out. The cancer is now in remission, but she must go for monthly checks in case it returns
About 80,500 people are diagnosed with lymphoma yearly in the United States, the most common cancer in teenagers and young adults.
It occurs when white blood cells in the lymph system divide uncontrollably, triggering symptoms and, in later stages, causing organs to shut down.
The cancer can be fast-growing, and, combined with the age of patients, it is often not diagnosed until later stages — when it is harder to treat.
It is unclear why the cancer is more common in young people, but scientists say this may be linked to viral or bacterial infections that cause damaging cell mutations.
Davis said that the diagnosis in December came as a ‘huge shock’.
‘One, because I am 26 years old and wasn’t even thinking about that happening to me right now,’ she said.
‘But two, because I am really healthy: I eat organic, I work out five days a week, I don’t smoke, I don’t drink a lot.’
The restaurant manager initially tried to shrug off the dizziness that emerged whenever she worked out or bent over.
But in just a few weeks, she struggled to lift boxes and trays at work and woke up with sweat-drenched sheets.
A persistent cough emerged in December that would not go away, and then she woke up to find her face swollen and light bruises on her chest and arms.
She went to doctors believing they would diagnose her with pneumonia, but after an X-ray and MRI they diagnosed the cancer.
‘I felt like my life was ending, and, in a way, it was,’ she said.
‘Everything I thought I knew about my body and all my life plans were taken away at that moment. Being told I had cancer at 26 after I had done everything I had been taught to do to prevent it, was traumatic.’
Davis said the diagnosis came as a ‘huge shock’. She had always been healthy, eating organic and avoiding smoking and drinking a lot of alcohol
She added: ‘I was told in one night [my diagnosis] and that I needed to begin chemotherapy right away or I would die.’
Doctors carried out a biopsy the following day to confirm the diagnosis but by this point, Davis’ cough had become so bad that she ‘couldn’t breathe’.
‘I was told that I had pneumonia and superior vena cava syndrome, an obstruction of blood flow, due to cancer, which wasn’t getting to my brain and it can be deadly.
‘I had seen the effects of cancer and chemotherapy in movies and the thought of going through things like losing my hair terrified me.
‘All of this happened so fast – one day, I didn’t know anything and suddenly, my life was in danger.’
Davis did not reveal whether she had Hodgkin lymphoma — where cancerous cells appear in the lymph nodes — or the more common non-Hodgkin lymphoma — which can develop in many locations in the body, including the spleen and bone marrow.
In the early stages, the disease may cause painless swellings in the neck, armpits or groin region. Sometimes, it can also trigger dizziness, which may be caused by less oxygen reaching the brain due to anemia or a reduction in red blood cells.
In the intermediate stage, warning signs progress to unintentional weight loss, persistent fatigue, night sweats and increased susceptibility to infections.
In Davis’ case, she also developed a cough, which doctors said was due to the tumor in her lungs obstructing the flow of blood and causing pressure to build up — triggering the cough.
After the diagnosis, Davis — who would normally even avoid painkillers — was signed up to receive five-day chemotherapy infusions every two and a half weeks for six rounds.
She is currently recovering from chemotherapy, and the cancer is in remission.
But doctors have told her she must come for monthly check-ups to ensure the disease does not reemerge.
She has also started using cool capping and wearing ice packs on the head to help combat hair loss due to the chemotherapy.
She said: ‘It has taken a toll on me. One of the worst parts was losing my hair, as it was so important to me and a huge piece of how I presented myself to the world.
‘But, I am committed to remaining positive and grateful throughout this journey.
‘I am using it as a learning experience and educating myself on how to live a life aware of what I am putting in and on my body.
‘My experience with being so afraid and unaware of what to expect is what led me to start sharing my journey online.
‘I wanted to provide other people going through similar diagnoses with a positive medium.’