While most of us know to look out for the signs of breast cancer, the signs of bone cancer (osteosarcoma) can be harder to spot. And that's something 29-year-old Beckii Corbett discovered the difficult way when she was diagnosed with the disease.
Osteosarcoma is primarily found in older children, teenagers and young adults between the ages of 10-24, but it can occur at any age. Back in 2019, Beckii was a busy mum with two young children when she started noticing an achy shoulder and some minor muscle pain.
“I just put it down to lifting the children and normal life. In fact, at my first nurse’s appointment, I joked about being a wuss with what seemed to be a pulled muscle,” Beckii said. She had also noticed she was feeling tired more and more often, but didn't think too much of it. “I just dismissed is as busy life. I was anaemic, so I assumed that was the cause," she tells Cosmopolitan.
When other people started picking up on her symptoms, however, she was encouraged to get them checked out. Beckii recalls being reluctant at first. I didn’t want to waste the doctor’s time, but when I found that I couldn’t physically fasten my bra, I realised I had to call the doctor.”
Beckii was offered an MRI scan just before a family holiday to Morocco. “About half-way through the holiday, I received some missed calls from the doctor. I knew in my gut that something wasn’t right. I explained that we were on holiday and they told me not to worry, but to contact them as soon as I was home.” Beckii managed her pain with painkillers throughout the trip, but upon arriving home, she realised her diagnosis. “A text came through to confirm my appointment with a doctor at the Linda McCartney Centre, I googled it and as soon as I saw it was a cancer centre, I knew. I cried all the way home from the airport.”
A day later and Beckii was with her GP, who advised that they had found suspected cancer, but, they were unsure of what kind. “I still hoped they were going to say it wasn’t cancer. But, after a biopsy, I received my official diagnosis. I had high-grade osteosarcoma. My first thought was, 'have I given this to my children?' My second was, 'am I going to die?' The doctor explained that my cancer wasn’t hereditary, but the second question he couldn’t answer. At that point, the world stood still for me.”
Beckii started aggressive chemotherapy in September 2019 which continued up until April 2020. She was declared cancer-free in February this year after surgery to remove the tumour. “I want us all to remember to listen to our bodies. If you have an ache or pain that is not normal for you, get it checked out. It’s far better to waste a ten-minute appointment than to ignore it,” she says.
Beckii is right - and the experts agree. While most of the time, an ache or pain probably isn't going to lead to a cancer diagnosis, it's always worth getting anything that's bothering you investigated just in case. “Joint pain is very common and can be related to anything from doing too much activity to having bad posture,” Celene Doherty, Specialist Cancer Information Nurse for Cancer Research UK, tells Cosmopolitan. “Most people who experience it will not have osteosarcoma (a very rare type of primary bone cancer). But like all health concerns, symptoms should be discussed with your GP especially when they persist.”
“Your life can change in a second, you can’t take anything for granted. So listen to your body,” urges Beckii.
Symptoms of bone cancer:
Pain and tenderness (even when you're resting)
Problems moving around (can cause a limp)
Fatigue (even after a good nights sleep)
A high temperature and sweats
A weakened bone that causes a fracture (this is quite a rare symptom)
For more information on bone cancer, visit Cancer Research. Beckii is supporting Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life at Home, in partnership with Tesco. Run, walk or jog 5k wherever you are this April and raise money for life-saving cancer research. Sign up here.
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