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Odd Cancer Symptoms You Must Know After Teen With Leaking Breasts Discovers Brain Tumor

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woman clutching breast

In 2011, then 18-year-old Jessica Buck found herself in an unfortunate position dreaded by teens everywhere — a pregnancy scare.

But as it turned out, the leaking breast milk she discovered coming from her own body turned out to signify a far more terrifying reality. 

Her sudden onset of lactation was not, in fact, the result of unprotected sex, but was rather one of many brain tumor symptoms she'd just begun experiencing.

In the now 24-year-old British woman's own words, she described her initial shock:

"I had to put tissue in my bra. I was working part-time as a retail assistant and kept going to the bathroom, realizing that my bra was damp. There was white, milky fluid coming from my breasts. I thought that was something that only happened to pregnant women...

...I started to put cotton wool pads or tissues inside my bra, which was embarrassing, as I was constantly trying to hide it. I spoke to my mum and asked, 'Is this normal?' She sent me straight to the doctor. I didn't know what to think."

After undergoing several tests, an MRI revealed a pea-sized, thankfully non-cancerous tumor in her pituitary gland.

The pituitary gland is often referred to as the "master gland" of our bodies, "because its hormones control other parts of the endocrine system, namely the thyroid gland, adrenal glands, ovaries, and testes."

Per the U.S. National Library of Medicine:

"The pituitary gland controls important body functions and the hormonal system. It is a protrusion at the base of the brain and about the size of a pea or cherry... [which] lies well protected in a small cavity of the cranial bones, level with the nose, and in the middle of the head..."

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"Along with the hypothalamus, it controls "the involuntary nervous system, which manages the balance of energy, heat, and water in the body. Body temperature, heartbeat or the amount of urine are all regulated this way, for example, and so are sleep, hunger, and thirst.

The pituitary gland also produces a series of hormones that either control most of the other hormone glands in the body or have a direct effect on specific organs."

Jessica's tumor was signaling her body to over-produce a hormone called prolactin, which is responsible for the production of milk in a woman's breasts following childbirth.

Once diagnosed, Jessica was given a choice of having surgery to remove the tumor or taking medication to reduce the size of the growth and control the symptoms, which also included exhaustion, dizziness, and headaches.

She elected to give medication a try and began taking Cabergoline, "which blocks prolactin secretion from the pituitary gland and, quickly, her symptoms became more controlled."

She tried stopping the drug intervention in 2015, but after her symptoms returned and the tumor began to grow again, she restarted her regimen.

Her treatment so far is keeping her condition under control and she has gone on to establish a career as an estate agent (from which she has since retired) and travel extensively throughout the world, as well as to start her own blog — Journeys With Jessica — and become an ambassador for The Pituitary Foundation, which provides support and information for patients, their families, friends, and caregivers.

She does have continuing concerns for her fertility in the future.

'A few months after the diagnosis," she said, "I was told that prolactinoma can cause fertility problems. I was so young when I was diagnosed that babies weren't really on my radar, but I have always wanted to be a mum. It is something that is so important to me. I was told that we would cross that bridge when we came to it..."

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"I have looked online and lots of people have said that they have the condition and have gone on to have kids, which is great. I am worried that if I was pregnant, I couldn't take the tablet and that might cause the tumor to grow — making me ill again. There are different medications that aren't as effective, but I would really have to work with my team and have a plan in place before trying to get pregnant."

There are multiple types of brain tumors, both cancerous and noncancerous, to be aware of.

Some of the most common signs and symptoms include these:

  • Headaches (usually worse in the morning)
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Changes in speech, vision, or hearing
  • Problems balancing or walking
  • Changes in mood, personality, or ability to concentrate
  • Problems with memory
  • Muscle jerking or twitching (seizures or convulsions)
  • Numbness or tingling in the arms or legs

It is important to note that, "Most often, these symptoms are not due to a brain tumor. Another health problem could cause them. If you have any of these symptoms, you should tell your doctor so that problems can be diagnosed and treated."

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Deputy Editor Arianna Jeret, MA/MSW, has been featured in Cosmopolitan, The Huffington Post, Yahoo Style, MSN, Fox News, Bustle, Parents, and more. Find her on Twitter or on Instagram for more.