Attention Women: Her Doctor Failed to Inform Her that She Was Cancer Free

True Story – Breast Cancer Scare: She received the news that every woman dreads.

Her digital mammogram was clean, but the ultrasound identified a small, suspicious dark area.

A local biopsy was performed.

She departed from the office with a report stating that she was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer.  An invasive biopsy was recommended.

Her doctor – a member of a respected practice – phoned her. “I received the diagnosis,” he said. “You must take action immediately.”  Which specialist should she call?  Did he have a name?  He couldn’t make a recommendation.

What did she do? She devoured articles about foods that should be avoided (avocado and meat, for example). The scent of lavender, she learned, might aggravate the situation. She exercised a bit more, prayed and savored old rock and roll tunes.

She was upset – but not enough to undergo an invasive biopsy, and all that might follow.  She decided to wait.

A year went by. She saw her doctor again. “What steps have you taken?” he asked.  “Aside from improving my health, very little,” she replied.  “I’m waiting.”  He was aghast.

A few months later, she made an appointment for a follow-up mammogram.  But now her insurance provider wouldn’t pay. They dropped the only digital mammogram provider in her area.

She relied on her instincts:  She felt it was more important to return to the office that had her original records than to save money.  She agreed to pay.

Moreover, her doctor’s office recently lost her  mammogram and ultrasound records, so she had to retrieve another copy regardless.

During the mammogram, she chatted with the mammogram technician. “I know I should have come sooner,” she said, “considering the cancer.”

The technician looked at her chart. “You don’t have cancer.”

“But the biopsy….?

“Yes, I see that a biopsy was performed, and it came back negative the following day.  Didn’t your doctor tell you? We sent him the lab report.”

Her doctor failed to inform her that she was cancer free – and didn’t bother to check her records during the follow-up visit a year later.

By returning to the same clinic, she received the most unexpected news of all.  She never had cancer.

The doctor who performed the local biopsy issued a diagnosis without the final lab report.

She spent over 16 months with this heavy verdict over her heart.

Moral of the story?  Distrust doctors? Avoid invasive biopsies? Avoid avocados and lavender?

I’m not sure there is one – just reporting the facts.

To your health and to your instincts.

Dr. Joyce Starr