Rose is a 49-year-old Indonesian lady. About five years ago she had a swelling in her left breast. She came to a private hospital in Penang and have the lump removed. No further treatment was deemed necessary. The doctor probably thought it was just a fibroadenoma (a common non-cancerous breast lump).
Two years after the surgery, in 2016, the lump grew into a giant fibroadenoma and Rose underwent a mastectomy. Her whole left breast was removed. After surgery in Penang, she was sent home with no further treatment.
In early 2018, Rose started to cough and both her arms and legs are swollen. The lump in her breast grew back again. Rose came back to the same hospital and did a “health screening” test and paid RM 500 for a complied booklet about her health.
Her X-ray report said, “Lung metastasis from ? left breast carcinoma.”
Rose was referred to an oncologist of the hospital. She was told to undergo six cycles of chemotherapy.
Chris: Did you ask the doctor if chemotherapy is going to cure you?
Husband: We never ask.
Rose paid RM 160.00 for this consultation and was given a bottle of cough mixture to bring home!
What can we learn from this pathetic case?
- Your health is your responsibility. Many patients think that doctors know best and can fix all their problems. Once they go into the hospital, that’s it — they leave everything to the doctors! If that is your attitude, you will end up like Rose!
Rose found a lump in her breast. She had it removed. Hooray, it was not cancer — that is what everyone likes to hear. Then the lump grew back again — Rose went back to the same doctor and did a mastectomy. Did she ever ask any question — why this and why that? Probably not. The lump did not go away, as it grew bigger, Rose did not bother to consult another doctor — why did she allow the lump to grow so big like in the picture? Because it did not cause any pain, she said! When she started to cough and felt breathless, only then she decided to see the doctor again. She came back to the same hospital to do a “health screening” test. Is that the correct thing to do?
- Did Rose get the best of medical treatment? I am not too sure about that. A non-cancer lump became cancerous after two operations — is that a correct diagnosis? Did Rose go to the a “really good” doctor in town?
Remember, not all doctors are the same — in terms of experience, expertise and their empathy towards patients. As I was writing this story, one patient came. He said, The doctor told me there was about 5 liter of fluid in my lung. He tapped out 1 litre. I asked him why he did not remove the remaining 4 litre. He did not answer me. He was arrogant. What do you think of such doctors? Let him treat you again?
- Dr. Barry Boyd (in The Cancer Recovery Plan) wrote, “Most doctors don’t bother to counsel their patients after treatment. Once cancer treatment is completed, most patients are left on their own to cope with the rest of their lives. This is what I call falling off the cliff. Patients are left in free fall.”
Is this not what happened to Rose? Cut and cut, but was there any advice as to what to do to prevent or minimize the recurrence of the lump? No — just go home, do and eat what you like! Probably it is just your luck? If more problems crop up come back to us again and we cut you again or chemo you!
A taxi driver at the airport recommended that Rose come and consult us. When Rose came to see us, I thought it was a bit too late. Her health had deteriorated badly. I would try to help the best I can but I know I cannot make the big lump go away. I think it is not the lump that is going to kill her — it is the extensive lung metastasis.