I found lumps in my right breast and arranged an appointment with a nurse at my doctor’s. The day of my appointment, the nurse had apparently been told that her department was going to be downsized. All she could talk about was her job loss. She gave me a brief check over and said she couldn’t find any lumps in my breast. I went back and spoke to the doctor. He said I was probably imagining the lumps and that he trusted the nurse. He didn’t examine me.
Nearly two years later, I moved, so I signed with a new doctor. I saw a nurse at the new surgery center, and she gave me a very thorough examination. She sent me to the hospital. I was told right away that my cancer was advanced; the tumors were very large. I had a mastectomy and lymph node removal. Since then, I have had radiotherapy, chemotherapy and now take Tamoxifen and have Herceptin via IV.
The consultant who diagnosed cancer advised me to see a solicitor about medical negligence at the first doctor’s surgery center. The solicitor obtained my medical records, and we found out that the first nurse did not write down that I’d visited her because of lumps in my breast. Instead, she had written that we’d had a “general discussion”, and the doctor hadn’t written anything at all on the day I’d spoken to him. Therefore, I cannot claim any compensation, and the nurse has not been advised to retrain or update her knowledge about how to check for breast cancer. During my mastectomy surgery, I began having difficulty with my breathing, and we discovered that I have COPD. It’s not possible now for me to have reconstruction surgery. I now only have one breast.
Submitted December 4, 2017
This story is intended to convey a personal experience and, because every person’s experience is unique, should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional healthcare advice.