British actress Lorna Nickson Brown was diagnosed with thyroid cancer after her mother noticed a lump on her throat in a social media post from Brown in early 2015.
According to The Independent's Indy 100, Brown's mother originally thought Brown had simply lost weight, revealing a gaunt face and neck. But after three months of waiting for the lump to disappear, Brown decided to visit a doctor and have the lump examined.
Her first diagnosis was that of a thyroid nodule, which is common and often harmless. But because Brown's was larger than normal and hard to the touch, further tests were administered.
After four months of tests and scans, her worst fears were realized. Brown was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and needed surgery to remove the nodule.
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"I felt numb," Brown told Indy 100 about receiving her diagnosis. "I didn't believe it because I felt so well. At the time I was optioned for a Golden Globe-nominated TV series."
"This isn't what I thought cancer looked like. The minute you tell people, it's the cancer face. I didn't feel ill."
She visited with clinicians and received sound advice to stay away from the internet and to avoid self-diagnosing her illness.
"Google is so scary. [A nurse] said to me, 'You have a choice -- you can Google thyroid cancer and freak yourself out or you can ask me,'" Brown told Indy 100.
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"He gave me recommended things to read. It's about selecting those correct sources. I had somebody -- in the middle of the night I would send him an email filled with questions and he answered every single one"
Brown made a full recovery and has been in remission for more than a year since the cancer was hiding in plain sight.
Brown is also an advocate for the mental health of cancer patients, and wants to start a dialogue about the disease that offers a more positive outlook.
"There's no right way [to talk about it]," she said. "In my own experience just knowing that I can be open and talk about that word with someone, where it's not all a negative association."
"We don't speak openly about illness so you can feel quite isolated. It can feel quite lonely."
Brown will be running a marathon in April to help raise money for Get-A-Head, a charity that assists with the mental health of patients who have difficult diagnoses, reports the Daily Mail.
"I think everyone should have someone like [I had] -- no matter the illness," said Brown. "Mental health in patients -- especially patients with cancer -- is so overlooked."
"My ability to lead a better life is the fact that I had psychological support from day one."