Jean Taylor is a 53 year-old grandmother from Wigan, United Kingdom who simply thought her fingernails were “ugly.” It was only when she posted photos of her fingernails online that she was told they were actually a symptom of lung cancer.
Jean’s fingernails curved around her fingertips, and she said she felt “ridiculous” going to the doctor to ask about her nails. However, when a doctor saw photos of her fingernails and let her know that they are a symptom of lung cancer, she realized she had no choice.
Scans showed two golf ball-sized tumours in both of her lungs, and Jean’s cancer was caught so early that she was still at stage one. Her early diagnosis was crucial given the low survival rate of lung cancer.
“These nails are my life savers and I’m not cutting them off,” Jean said. “I’d been working in a factory so my nails were really short. I got an office job about six weeks ago and they decided to grow. I’ve always had weak nails and I’ve never got them to this length because they were never strong and I was working in a factory.”
“My daughter said ‘god, they’re ugly.’ I didn’t want to go to the doctor over a curved nail, but I did it to put my daughter’s mind at rest,” she continued. “She’s the Google queen, and when you Google it the first thing that comes up in big bold letters is cancer. I felt ridiculous going to the doctor over a curved nail. I just thought I was wasting their time. I never in a million years thought it would be this. Never. I just said ‘I feel stupid, but I’ve come about this’ and I held my hand up.”
Jean took to Facebook to tell her story, and her post went viral. She’s now hoping to raise awareness about this cancer symptom.
“The support [after the post went viral] has been unreal. That feels good,” Jean said. “I’ve got so many people sending me shares of their nails, but I’m no expert – I’ve only been diagnosed less than 48 hours. People out there are terrified now and saying ‘my mum had that and it was never picked up and she died of lung cancer.'”
Jean will now either be forced to have surgery to remove the cancer from her right lung or undergo intense radiation therapy to get rid of it.
“I’ve just been dealt a curveball. It’s a very unfair curveball but somebody has to go through it and I’m just glad I’ve put it out there now,” Jean said, adding that she doesn’t “plan on going anywhere just yet.”
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