A woman has claimed doctors dismissed her cough as a common cold and allergies three times, before scans revealed she had Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Meagan Bechtold, from Las Vegas, USA, was due to go on holiday to Mexico with her husband, Chris, in July last year, so she decided to visit her doctor a fourth time to insist she needed treatment before her trip.
The then 26-year-old cancelled her holiday after a CT scan showed a 13-centimetre tumour located in her diaphragm.
“In my gut I knew something was really wrong. I was also scared out of my mind because I was 26 and just got diagnosed with cancer,” she said.
Meagan began her first round of chemotherapy straight away, which led her to lose 4.5kg and gave her constant nausea and mouth sores.
“I couldn’t breathe and was constantly hooked up to oxygen for about two months after my diagnosis,” she said.
After her first round of chemotherapy, Meagan went into ‘hibernation’ and slept for three days straight, only waking to drink water.
Meagan lost her appetite and started losing her hair during the second round of chemotherapy, so she decided to shave it off completely.
She dreaded making this decision because she feared looking like a cancer patient, but now she’s empowered by not being defined by her appearance.
“Losing my hair was hands down the most traumatising part of this whole experience,” Meagan said.
“I knew it was inevitable and I would have to shave it, so that day I asked my husband if he would shave it for me and I cried the entire time.
“My hair was a huge part of my identity and I was extremely blessed with long, thick hair and just like that I felt as if I lost myself completely.”
“After the hair was gone and I put makeup on the next day I felt liberated and empowered.
“You learn what truly matters during this process and for me hair loss had the biggest impact on my outlook. It was both the absolute worst and the most empowering of experiences.”
Meagan now hopes to inspire others to remain positive throughout their struggles as she has learned the importance of seeking optimism and beauty wherever she can.
“Stressing yourself out about things you have no control over is completely useless. By stressing and worrying about tomorrow’s problems, you’re completely ruining your current day,” she said.
Got a story tip? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org
Or sign up to our daily newsletter here.