A college freshman was shocked to be diagnosed with an incurable cancer after mistaking the symptoms for an ingrown hair.
Michael Croteau, 21, was diagnosed with pseudomyogenic hemangioendothelioma (PHE), an extremely rare cancer that affects just one in one million people, according to the EHE Foundation.
The student started experiencing tightness in his right knee and quadriceps during summer 2017 and developed what he believed was an ingrown hair on his right thigh that September.
Michael and his mom Susan Williams, 52, a nurse, became concerned as it began to grow, change color, and appear infected when he returned to college after Christmas.
Michael, of Overton, Texas, went to a dermatologist, who warned it could be something sinister, but referred him to UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas for a second opinion in April 2018.
The Kilgore College student was devastated when, in May 2018, his various MRI and CT scans revealed the rare cancer, which affects the skin, muscles and bones, and is diagnosed in fewer than 100 Americans a year.
Michael Croteau, 21, was diagnosed with pseudomyogenic hemangioendothelioma (PHE), an extremely rare cancer that affects just one in one million people
He developed what he believed was an ingrown hair on his right thigh in 2017
Micheal was frightened to discover that his cancer had developed into hundreds of tumors which had moved into the bone, muscle and tissue of his right thigh.
Michael said: 'I could feel it underneath the skin, it felt like there was pressure.
'I had never had [an ingrown hair], but I didn't really know what else it could be.
'I did dig at it, but there didn't seem to be a hair there.'
He never suspected cancer.
'It was a real shock,' Michael said.
'It was something I never thought would happen to me, especially at this age.'
Michael was frightened when doctors began to explore the possibility of amputation, but the surgery was eventually ruled out by an orthopedic surgeon.
Doctors in Houston's MD Anderson Cancer Center decided to treat Michael's tumors with an experimental oral chemotherapy drug and the student underwent a course of radiation therapy on this thigh to manage the pain.
While Michael's cancer is currently incurable, the aim of his