A beating heart, a funny lump on your eyelid – you probably think you instinctively know if you should consult a doctor about such signs.
But in some cases it may require a strange comment from a stranger to get you diagnosed.
Here ANGELA EPSTEIN talks to five people whose serious illnesses came to light by accident.
Roddy Riddle's customers said he looked after he dropped six and a half stones in six weeks. It turned out that he had type 1 diabetes
WEIGHT LOSS COMPLIMENTS DISCLOSED DIABETES
Roddy Riddle, 51, who owns a bicycle shop, lives in Inverness with his wife Lynn, 51, a secretary, and their three children, Alasdair, 15, Isla, 14 and Finlay, ten. He says:
& # 39; I didn't worry remotely when customers started telling me that I looked. There was a "cycle to work" schedule in our area and things went well.
& # 39; I would & # 39; go to the store in the morning to prepare new bikes for the first customers at 9 o'clock in the morning and continue working. I would eat normally, but my weight dropped and people told me that I looked great.
& # 39; I am 5ft 9in and in 6 weeks I lost 2½ sts. I just thought that all this activity burned calories.
& # 39; The constant comments led my wife to Google & # 39; sudden weight loss & # 39; and type 1 diabetes came up. She encouraged me to go to my doctor, but I had tickets to see Glasgow Rangers playing in St. Petersburg and didn't want to miss the game.
& # 39; I finally gave in and cycled to my doctor's surgery, where he checked my blood glucose levels. They were as high as 45 (a normal level is between 4 and 7). I was surprised.
& # 39; My doctor immediately sent me to the hospital where I was told that I had type 1 diabetes. It means that your body cannot produce a hormone insulin to regulate your sugar levels. It is irreversible and can be genetic. Apparently it was only because I was so fit that I had not fallen into a diabetic coma.
Mr. Riddle, 51, from Inverness, now uses an insulin pump and has used less sugar
& # 39; I now use an insulin pump and a continuous glucose monitor and have used less sugar.
& # 39; If you can control your diabetes, you can lead a healthy life. But I hate to think what would have happened if I had just enjoyed the compliments about losing weight and had done nothing. & # 39;
EXPERT COMMENTS: Dushyant Sharma, a consultant diabetologist at the Royal Liverpool University Hospital, says: "Non-diagnosed type 1 diabetes causes blood glucose levels to rise and this glucose is excreted in the urine. Glucose is very caloric, so Roddy would lose weight even if he eats normally.
"In type 1 diabetes with a later onset – say, when the patient is over 40 – classic symptoms such as thirst and fatigue are not so obvious."
Lara Buckle, from South London, had a bump on her eyelid that turned out to be cancer. It was noticed by her beautician
BEAUTICIAN FOUND MY SKIN CANCER
Lara Buckle, 33, is a nutritionist in training from South London. She says:
& # 39; I treat myself to facials every few months and last November, while my skin was being assessed, my regular cosmetician pointed to a piece of half a pea on my right eyelid.
& # 39; I noticed it was itching a few weeks earlier, but I assumed it was a stye. I've had them before and it doesn't matter. But my beautician insisted that I have it checked at Moorfield's Eye Hospital in London.
& # 39; The doctor there gave me some anti-inflammatory drops to stop the itch and took a biopsy.
& # 39; I haven't thought much about it, even at this stage. So I was astonished when I was called back a few weeks later and told that I had a type of skin cancer known as basal cell carcinoma. Hearing the C word was so shocking.
& # 39; I had to undergo a specialized type of operation, called Mohs, where the surgeon gradually removes and examines thin layers of skin until only cancer-free tissue remains.
& # 39; Fortunately, the cancer was curtailed, although my consultant said it was very unusual to see it so young. I did use a lounger for a summer in my years & # 39; 20 and lived in Australia for a year, but now I always use SPF 30. & # 39;
EXPERT COMMENTS: Dr. John Ashworth, consultant dermatologist at Warrington Hospital near Manchester, said: "Basal cell carcinoma grows slowly and normally occurs on the eyelids or nose. People often confuse it with ingrown hair or stain.
"Although it rarely spreads throughout the body, it can grow, making it very difficult to remove by surgery. I have had patients who had to remove three-quarters of an ear. & # 39;
Adrian Banks, 52, was ordered to see a doctor after a store clerk saw him fly to the left. He was diagnosed with Parkinson's
MY WALK WAS A SIGN OF PARKINSON & # 39; S
Adrian Banks, 52, an asset manager, lives in Cornwall with his wife Bernadette, 54. They have three children. Adrian says:
& # 39; Before I was diagnosed, I ran 18 miles a week and hardly got a cold. I have never taken a day off.
& # 39; One day in 2017 I took my son to buy some running shoes. I went on the treadmill in the store and the sales assistant said I ran "like a crab" – I kept turning to the left. He suggested that I see a doctor because something was wrong. I told myself that maybe I had a knee problem.
& # 39; I went to my doctor the next day, who referred me to a neurologist.
& # 39; There is no definitive, objective test for Parkinson's disease, a degenerative neurological disorder, but walking can be a strong indicator, the specialist said when he broke the news.
& # 39; I have disputed it. I told him that I had a busy life, customers to see. I was a runner, fit and active. It wasn't right.
& # 39; He asked me to tap my index finger and thumb as quickly as possible – slowness is associated with that of Parkinson's. I couldn't do it; my fingers remained missing.
& # 39; It was terrible to tell the news to our twin boys, then 20 years old, and our daughter, 16, that there was no cure
& # 39; I am now using a medicine called Sinemet that helps control my symptoms. I can no longer run and limp. But I keep fit by swimming and work full time. I am not going to give in. & # 39;
EXPERT COMMENTS: Professor David Dexter, deputy director of research at Parkinson's charity in the UK, says: "Parkinson's" initially affects only one side of the body, because it initially affects only one side of the brain. That is why the diagnosis may be delayed.
"People can opt for physiotherapy because they think it is a mechanical problem. There is currently no cure, but the earlier the diagnosis, the better the response to drugs to manage the condition. & # 39;
Daughter tumor seen in vacation moment
Taomi, pictured with Lydia, saw a strange circle of white light in her daughter's left pupil in a holiday snapshot
Lydia Sharlotte, three, lives in Leeds with parents Taomi, 22, a hairdresser, and Danny, 23, who works for a wholesale market. Taomi says:
We were on vacation in Turkey when I took a picture of our happy, lively, 18-month-old Lydia. But when I looked at the photo, I saw a strange circle of white light in her left pupil.
They were not red eyes or blinds from the camera flash, and in the back of my mind I remembered that I had read about a woman who had discovered in a photo that her child had some form of eye cancer.
I loved coming home. As soon as we did, Lydia was referred to the hospital, where they confirmed our worst nightmare. She had retinoblastoma, a rare eye cancer in children.
Lydia had a group E tumor – the most aggressive form. The only possible treatment was the removal of her eye. We were told that retinoblastoma could spread quickly and once in the bloodstream was difficult to cure. This terrible thing can kill our daughter.
Fortunately the cancer had not spread and when the eye socket healed, she got a realistic artificial eye. Thank goodness for that photo.
Lydia, pictured, eventually got retinoblastoma, a rare eye cancer in children
EXPERT COMMENTS: Andrew Lotery, a professor of ophthalmology at the University of Southampton, says: "& # 39; Red eye & # 39; is a reflection of the flash of blood vessels in the retina, at the back of the eye. Retinoblastoma is a white tumor that grows there, so when light shines on it, white is reflected back. It is vital to act if you suspect the disease, because it can transmit the optic nerve to the brain. & # 39;
The Childhood Eye Cancer Trust (chect.org.uk) is a British charity dedicated to the families of children with retinoblastoma.
Becky Shorrocks, 37, used to get nervous for auditions and it turned out she had arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy
& # 39; STAGE FRIGHT & # 39; WAS A HEART CONDITIONS
Becky Shorrocks, 37, an actress, lives in London with her husband Paul, 40, a stand-up comedian. She says:
& # 39; I would be a bit agitated for auditions, so one morning I started running to calm my nerves. But when I walked back to the car, I felt palpitations in my chest and a sense of panic.
& # 39; I stumbled through the audition, despite my fluttering heart, and I was going to sleep in what I thought were just nerves. But my husband said that I looked pretty gray and persuaded me to call 111, the NHS helpline. They sent me to A&E.
& # 39; Tests showed that I had arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC), a potentially life-threatening heart muscle abnormality.
& # 39; I had an implantable cardioverter defibrillator in my chest to regulate my heart rhythm. I now use beta blockers and I no longer drink or have stimulants such as caffeine. I also can no longer practice as I did, because this could speed up the situation. I do yoga instead.
& # 39; Since then I have learned that my father carries a gene that is responsible for ARVC. I keep in touch with people in similar circumstances through my blog, thebeatgoesonuk.com. & # 39;
EXPERT COMMENTS: Dr. Glyn Thomas, advisor-cardiologist at the Bristol Heart Institute, said: "Becky was lucky to get the diagnosis when she unfortunately found 80 percent of post mortem cases. It is vital to tell your doctor if you feel palpitations when you are stressed or exercising. & # 39;
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