An Aussie Girl Has Developed Cancer From Biting Her Nails

This is horrifying!

Hayley Mitchelhill-Miller

11 September 2018

Hayley Mitchelhill-Miller

Article heading image for An Aussie Girl Has Developed Cancer From Biting Her Nails

If you have the bad habit of biting your nails, you might want to stop after reading what happened to this 20-year-old girl. 

Psychology student Courtney Whithorn found herself in a terrifying situation when she had to have her thumb amputated after she developed a rare form of cancer that was caused by her biting her nails!

Due to intense bullying back in 2014, she found herself biting her nails so much that her nail came clean off. 

Her thumb then started to turn black, but due to embarrassment about how it looked and that it had happened, she kept it a secret from her family and friends for four years. 

She spoke to New Idea about it all, explaining that due to her biting her nails she had caused so much trauma to the nail bed that it then developed into a rare form of cancer, called acral lentiginous subungual melanoma.

Courtney eventually sought help and was diagnosed with the cancer in only July of this year, having to then undergo four surgeries to remove the cancer. 

Although doctors tried to save her thumb, it eventually had to be amputated, 

Courtney opened up about the experience, saying, “When I found out that biting my nail off was the cause of the cancer it shattered me.

“In my head I thought ‘I’ve done this to myself’ but obviously I knew I shouldn’t have that mentality. I couldn’t believe it.

“When you think about it how many kids bite their nails it’s crazy it came to that.

“I bit the nail off four years ago and I was obviously very self-conscious of how black it was.

“My hand was just constantly in a fist because I didn’t want anyone to see it – not even my parents. 

“I got a bit freaked out when my skin started to go black so I showed them for the first time this year.”

After a second surgery, a PET scan revealed there were no more cancerous cells, but she was then told by specialists that the protocol for her form of melanoma was amputation. 

“I had a panic attack at work, I read the word ‘amputation’ and ran outside – I couldn’t breathe.

“My mum had to come to my work, my boss was tying my hair up and wafting my shirt. I freaked out – we’d never even spoken about amputation.

“We went and saw a melanoma specialist who also agreed that amputation was protocol because this was such a rare cancer.”

Things are starting to look up for Courtney as she told everyone, “I’m still waiting for that set of results from the surgery last week and if it’s clear then the surgeon watches me for the next five years and I get regular scans and bloods,’ she said.

“There’s not enough research to say what the survival rate is or what the likelihood of it coming back is because – we just don’t know much about it. I’ve just cried every time it’s been brought up. 

“The location of the cancer in my thumb is unknown so if it still shows up then they’re just going to have to keep cutting away until we get a clear result.”

Photos of her rough ordeal can be found here

We wish Courtney a speedy and full recovery!


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