An Australian woman who didn't think much of a small rash and a minor cough she had was stunned to learn that they were symptoms of something more serious.
Olivia Nikolic, 20, of Melbourne, told News.com.au on Sunday that, earlier this year, she noticed that a rash on her hip had spread to her legs but dismissed it as nothing more than a common skin condition.
"I didn't really think anything of it," she said. "I just thought it was eczema. When I got a dry cough, I just thought I had a cold. I thought that these were just normal things."
Weeks later, however, Nikolic reportedly felt a sharp pain course from her heart to her left shoulder. The pain was so unbearable that she cried and had trouble breathing, she said.
"My boyfriend — now fiancé — had a feeling something wasn't right and forced me to go to hospital," she recalled. "I am so lucky he did, as I was told if I'd left it for two more weeks, I wouldn't have made it."
Doctors then requested x-ray scans, which, in turn, confirmed that Nikolic's health was far worse than previously thought.
"The next day, doctors sat me down and told me they’d found a tumor," she told the news site. "I just cried. I didn’t even want to live anymore."
n February, doctors diagnosed the 20-year-old with Stage 4 lymphoma — a treatable type of blood cancer often characterized by fatigue, night sweats, abdominal pain and nausea, according to Healthline.com.
"I was nothing but in disbelief that I had cancer," Nikolic said.
The Australian admitted she didn't once think she had cancer because the symptoms weren't serious enough to convince her otherwise. Now, she's undergoing chemotherapy, which she said has physically exhausted her.
"It's really impacted me a lot," she said. "I feel like I’m always tired and unable to do the things I want to. I'm only 20. I'm turning 21 this year. I should be planning my 21st in America, studying, and saving for a house — but I can't do any of that."
Though Nikolic said the cancer treatment — which has cost her hair, eyebrows and eyelashes — has made her somewhat lose confidence in herself, it has also changed her perspective on life.
"Cancer has changed me as a person to be more grateful and thankful for even the air I'm able to breathe," she said. "I am so appreciative of everything I have."
A GoFundMe campaign for Nikolic's treatment has since raised nearly $4,000 of its $5,000 goal.