A mother who battled thyroid cancer aged 27 has revealed the symptoms she ignored weeks before her diagnosis, from dry skin to brittle hair.
Christina McKnight, now 35, thought little of the signs for weeks and was only diagnosed after her husband, Matthew McKnight, 36, “forced” her to see a doctor.
She was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in the fall of 2014, despite having no family history and being “young, fit and healthy”.
Christina – who now has a five-year-old son – thought her symptoms were caused by stress after she landed a promotion at her job at a commercial bank.
However, her fatigue, brain fog, dry skin and brittle hair were all signs of something far more sinister.
Christina, a content creator, from Oklahoma City, US, said: “It was one of those things that I never thought would happen to me.
“I was young, fit and healthy. I’d just run a half marathon, did CrossFit for three years, and had no known hereditary thyroid disease in the family at all.
“I just started to feel very tired and had loads of brain fog, but I thought it was just because of my promotion.
“Then my husband noticed how tired I was and my lack of interest in things like the gym, which I usually love.
“I couldn’t get stuff done like I used to. I would have to go to work on a Sunday to catch up because my brain was so foggy.”
Christina said she started to notice her hair become ‘weirdly brittle’, while her skin grew drier.
“I kept brushing it all off,” she said.
“My husband knew something wasn’t right and made me book a doctor appointment – which I canceled twice because I had too much going on. I finally went to the doctor to appease him mostly.
“I said my symptoms were because I wasn’t looking after myself – I was eating fast food and stressed at work.
“Thankfully my doctor recognized my symptoms as he had recently diagnosed others with thyroid cancer.
“He felt my neck and found a lump which I wasn’t even aware of and got the ball rolling with diagnosis.”
Christina then had an ultrasound and a biopsy which confirmed she had thyroid cancer.
At first, Christina was hesitant to accept the diagnosis, as her thyroid would have to be removed.
The thyroid is found in the neck and produces vital hormones that regulate metabolism, energy levels, heart rate and body temperature.
As an athlete and runner, Christina was reluctant to go through with the procedure, so got a second opinion that also confirmed she had thyroid cancer.
She had a thyroidectomy in November 2014, followed by radioactive iodine ablation treatment in January to remove any remains of her thyroid glands.
A year later she got the all clear but has to have thyroid replacement injections to replace her lost hormones.
Christina, who shares her experiences with her 102,000 followers on TikTok, said: “It was very surreal, because cancer is such a big word.
“It was such a shock and I just thought this couldn’t be, it was a weird feeling.
“A lot of the time they say thyroid cancer happens to older people and that it’s hereditary, but that wasn’t the case with me.
“I share my story, not to scare people, but to remind them to pay attention if you’re experiencing changes and to go to the doctor.
“Listen to the people around you if they notice changes in you, sometimes they see things in us that we don’t see.
“Thankfully I’m OK and my husband made sure I saw a doctor, but I never would’ve thought that being tired and having dry hair was cancer.
“It’s so important to be aware of these lesser-known symptoms and to not assume it wouldn’t happen to you, listen to the people around you and listen to changes in your body – it could save your life.”