A U.K. woman’s warning is going viral after discovering that her “ugly” curved fingernails were actually a sign of lung cancer.
When 53-year-old Jean Williams Taylor noticed that her nails were curving, she took to Facebook to ask her friends if they had ever experienced something similar.
“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,” Taylor told the Manchester Evening News. “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. But now I think I could knock a nail in with them.”
The grandmother of three finally agreed to visit doctors after her daughter discovered online that bent finger nails could be a sign of heart or lung disease.
“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 said. “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.”
Doctors immediately rushed Taylor for an X-ray and blood tests. In the days that followed, doctors ordered an MRI, CT scan, as well as a PET scan and lung biopsy.
Two weeks after visiting doctors for her curved nails, Taylor was diagnosed with Stage 1 lung cancer in both of her lungs.
Taylor shared her news in an updated Facebook post, hoping to spread awareness of what she learned was called “clubbing.”
Nail clubbing occurs when nails become enlarged and curved over time, and are often an indicator of low oxygen in the blood. Clubbing is often attributed to illnesses such as AIDS, liver disease and inflammatory bowel disease.
According to Dr. Phoebe Rich, director of the Nail Disorders Clinic at Oregon Health and Science University, clubbing can occur on either the hands or toes.
“It is a pretty characteristic finding and a good diagnostic clue to look at the lungs,”Rich told Today. “It probably has something to do with oxygenation of the tips of the digits, although there’s really no literature that explains it with 100 per cent certainty.”
Taylor’s post warning others about clubbing has received more than 215,000 shares on Facebook, much to her surprise.
“The support [after the post went viral] has been unreal. That feels good,” she 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.”
Taylor will undergo surgery to remove the cancer from her lungs, and says she is doing her best to remain positive, but worries for her daughter.
“My daughter is my best friend. She’s my absolute rock. She doesn’t take any crap from me,” Taylor told the Evening News. “She’s not allowed me to be sorry for myself when she’s here. She’s held me up. But she crumbles. It was a hard day when I got the results because she was the first one to crumble.”
Still, the family is relying on each other to get through this difficult time, and hope to come out of this stronger and healthier than ever.
“We’re the three musketeers, me and my two kids, and it’s Team Jean all the way,” she explained. “I don’t plan on going anywhere just yet.”