Toronto influencer Susete Isabel says she initially ignored her stage 4 cancer symptoms: 'It's a bad sign'

Isabel says she didn't worry about an enlarged note because it "didn't hurt."

Canadian influencer Susete Isabel opened up about cancer symptoms she initially
Canadian influencer Susete Isabel opened up about cancer symptoms she initially "ignored." (Instagram/@susete_isabel)

Toronto-based influencer and mental health advocate Susete Isabel has gone viral for her transparent portrayal of her battle with stage 4 follicular lymphoma. Earlier this week, she shared an Instagram reel with candid hospital clips of undergoing chemotherapy.

Isabel shared an optimistic perspective in the on-screen message, and a clip of herself dancing. "Eight months ago I learned I had stage 4 cancer, follicular lymphoma. I did chemo and I'm well aside from the body exhaustion," she wrote.

"I'm here to tell you through my dancing that you can make the best out of the worst situation. You see, it's not about what happens to you, it's how you handle whatever happens to you that matters."

Follicular lymphoma is a form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma that comes from lymphocytes — a type of white blood cell crucial to the immune system. This cancer typically shows up as painless swelling in the lymph nodes, the abdomen or other body parts. Due to its slow-growing nature, symptoms can be subtle and easily overlooked.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, around 3.5 people in 100,000 are diagnosed with follicular lymphoma. While there is no clear cause of the illness, age, sex, family history and pre-existing medical issues may be a factor. People over 65 years old are more likely to have the condition and those assigned male at birth are also more likely than those assigned female at birth.

Isabel elaborated on her experience in a lengthy caption, admitting her initial disregard for an early cancer symptom — a three-inch lymph node. She wrote, "I wasn't worried about my three-inch lymph node, because it didn’t hurt. Hear me out! That's the whole reason why I should have been worried. It's a bad sign when they don't hurt!"

She credited her positive outlook to taking things "One day at a time.

"I pick to not give up and keep going like nothing happened and just confront the whole situation with head on. I pick to lift myself up and not stop and help who ever needs me on the way there," she penned.

Isabel listed the symptoms she experienced that she first ignored, urging her followers to seek medical attention if they notice similar signs. Those included:

  • Drenching night sweats

  • Swollen abdomen

  • Itchy hands and feet

  • Swollen lymph node on my groin

  • Loss of appetite

  • Sudden weight loss

"Better now than later. You can't control what happens to you. You can control how you react to it though," she concluded.

Isabel's candid post was met with well-wishes and supportive messages in the comments.

"Thank you for educating everyone on this. Glad you are doing well," one person shared.

"I think you are a truly amazing person and you have comforted more people than you know!" a fan added.

"Love your energy. So glad that god has blessed you. I’m two years in remission!" someone else chimed in.

Another applauded Isabel for being a "warrior."

On Thursday, she shared another Instagram reel shedding light on her cancer symptoms that she originally brushed off. Alongside a clip of Susete sitting in her car, she revealed the video was taken at the "exact moment" she began to experience swelling in her abdomen. In the caption, Isabel confessed she didn't think the swelling was a cause for concern.

"My swollen belly did not go unnoticed. I called it the fupa, but that's not what it was," she wrote. "I had many symptoms I was ignoring! I was waking up completely drenched in sweat every night, a few times a night. I had a huge skin rash that wasn't going away. I was always very tired, extreme fatigue. Loss of appetite too."

Isabel thought drinking alcohol "was also a problem."

"My spleen was very enlarged and my liver was pretty damaged," she recalled.

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