A young woman says she was turned away by doctors because she couldn’t stop sleeping and told she was just lazy – only to find out she had thyroid cancer.
Courtney Nettleton, 21, first visited her GP as a teenager over concerns that she was feeling tired all the time.
She claims her symptoms were initially fobbed off as “teenage laziness” but her routine of sleeping up to 14 hours a day turned out to be something much more sinister.
The senior care assistant from Wakefield, West Yorkshire, was tested in summer 2021 with her results coming back as normal.
But she knew something was amiss when she began developing other symptoms, including a lump on her neck spotted by colleagues in January this year after it began to protrude.
Horrified, the then-20-year-old went back to her doctors.
A month later she was given the shattering diagnosis of thyroid cancer and is now going through two forms of treatment to beat the illness.
“I was so devastated and worried,” Courtney told NeedToKnow.online.
“I was told by doctors that it was just teenage laziness.
“Thyroid cancer is rare, however, I knew deep down that something wasn’t right, and being told that it was just teenage laziness by the doctors was incredibly frustrating.”
Despite being brushed off for being “lazy”, Courtney had already developed other symptoms such as breathlessness, hot flushes, unsteadiness, neck stiffness, acne and even moodiness.
Doctors instead told her the symptoms were normal for a woman of her young age.
“Everyone knows their own bodies more than anybody else,” she added.
“It is so important to trust your gut and follow your instinct – you have to stand up for yourself when you know something isn’t right.
“My friends noticed a small lump on my neck at work and that combined with my symptoms pushed me to book a doctor’s appointment the next day.
“I was given a two-week urgent referral for an ultra-sound which confirmed I had a solid tumour in my thyroid.
“In February, I had a biopsy taken from the tumour and I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, and doctors told me it was growing fast.”
Courtney’s treatment began a month later in March.
In between separate surgeries, where both halves of her thyroid were removed, Courtney claims that doctors have made yet another mistake and told her she was cancer-free on March 22.
After a temporary feeling of relief, Courtney received the more devastating news that the cancer had spread to her blood vessels and required urgent surgery and radiotherapy.
She said: “I was so upset when I found out I still had cancer. I had to tell my family and friends that I wasn’t cancer-free and that I had more treatment to go.”
“I feel like the doctors completely overlooked me. After my first surgery, my doctor rang me and told me I was completely cancer-free and that I had nothing to worry about.
“My consultant rang me just three days after this to tell me that cancer cells were found in lymph channels and blood vessels within my thyroid and that I would need further surgery and radioiodine.
“So far, I’ve had two surgeries and one round of radioiodine treatment.
“The first surgery made me very poorly and I was bed bound and the radioiodine made me feel very weak, and I had to be isolated in a room which was really lonely.
“I will find out the results in roughly around six weeks to see whether this has been successful or not.
“The wait is sickening, I have the constant reassurance from Macmillan and my social worker and even though my cancer is very curable there’s always that worry that it could spread elsewhere.
“I suffer from severe anxiety so I am constantly worried.”
As Courtney anxiously waits for her results, she has been keeping herself busy by surrounding herself with loved ones and friends.
She added: “Work has been very supportive throughout the whole entire journey and has constantly supported me.
“Although I feel very let down by doctors, the staff at Macmillan, my consultant, and Leeds St James hospital have been absolutely amazing throughout my journey.”