It nearly turned into a deadlift.
A UK gym shark who thought he pulled a muscle while working out was flabbergasted to discover that the lump was actually a cancerous mass.
“The lump was quite big and about the size of an apple,” Tomas Evans, 18, told Kennedy News of the tumor.
The exercise enthusiast, who hails from Wrexham, Wales, had noticed a painful, apple-sized bump after a weight training session in June, but initially thought that it was just a “gym injury.”
“I went to the gym and two days later woke up with a big lump on my shoulder and it was causing me really bad pain,” Evans said. “I thought it had just been a muscle that had come out of place or something and it wasn’t.”
Although his booboo seemed innocuous, the Welsh lad’s concerned mother Rachael Tudor took her son to the doctor. They subsequently referred him to get shoulder and chest X-rays, and eventually a CT scan, which revealed something sinister.
While Tudor initially also thought her gym junkie son had just damaged something, she became alarmed after “he received a letter through the post to go in to discuss his results.”
“I instantly knew something wasn’t right,” said the distraught hospital technician, who later learned the “heartbreaking news” that her pride and joy had a “a mass the size of a fist in his chest.”
“He went straight for blood tests and a biopsy to see what exactly it was and we were faced with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma or testicular cancer,” she lamented. “We came home and cried for the whole two weeks waiting on the test results.”
She added, “It was the most horrendous two weeks of our lives as the crippling anxiety of what on Earth we were facing was awful.”
Their worst fears were confirmed in July after doctors diagnosed Evans with Stage 2 Hodgkin lymphoma, a type of cancer that affects the lymphatic system, which plays a role in the body’s immune function. The disease makes white blood cells, also called lymphocytes, grow out of control, causing swollen lymph nodes and tumors throughout the body.
Hodgkin’s lymphoma is the most common cancer diagnosed in adolescents ages 15 to 19, according to Cancer.org.
The teen was devastated by the news. “It [the diagnosis] is a weird moment to describe because it didn’t really hit me straight away, it was kind of later on,” he recalled. “When they first told me there was ‘something there’ it was a shock but when they said what it actually was, I kind of knew what it would be, I had a feeling.”
Evans’ case was particularly difficult to diagnose as he exhibited no symptoms besides his collarbone lump — seen in accompanying X-rays — which was caused by the mass in his chest. Nonetheless, doctors believe he’d caught the tumor early as it had formed at the beginning of the year.
In order to combat the disease, the aspiring electrician started chemotherapy in September, Kennedy reported. Salvation came five weeks ago after his scans revealed that he was cancer free, but he nonetheless “decided to do the treatment until the end of February just to make sure that it’s gone everywhere.”
While he might’ve tested cancer-free, Evans said the chemo took its toll on his body. “I had to take a year out of college and stop work and being able to go out places is a lot more difficult now because I’m at a high risk of infections,” he said. “I get tired quite easily walking around places and just doing normal things, especially closer to when I’ve had the treatment as well.”
In addition, the chemo has made Evans more susceptible to immune disorders. “Thomas has ended up in hospital a few times poorly with neutropenic sepsis and the worry of him catching infections has been our primary concern this time of year,” said his mother.
Despite the hurdles, Tudor said she’s glad “he’s on track and doing well,” adding that she is “so proud of him and how he’s coped.”
She even created a GoFundMe page to raise funds so her son and girlfriend Morgan can take a vacation to celebrate him completing treatment. They aim to donate the rest to a charity that helps lymphona sufferers.
In light of his epic saga, Evans is cautioning the public against ignoring even innocuous-seeming symptoms.
“I’d tell others who have symptoms to go and get checked out because I didn’t know, only that I hurt myself, otherwise I still wouldn’t know,” he said.