Discussions By Condition: Medical Stories

Non-diagnosis by two of my doctors lead to Cancer

Posted In: Medical Stories 9 Replies
  • Posted By: cantata110
  • January 6, 2008
  • 03:36 AM

:(
About four years ago, I noticed a small-peanut-like knot behind my right ear. Having noted this, I asked my-then internist (a resident) to check this knot. Her response was to ask me if the knot hurt (which I said it did occasionally), and that was the end of that.

When I was assigned a new resident about three years ago, I asked the same question, and she did basically the same thing, which was nothing. Neither one of them referred me to a specialist, and since they seemed not to be concerned, I was not concerned either.

Four months ago, while showering, I noticed that the knot had gone from being the size of a peanut, to about two centrimetres.

Alarmed, I immediately scheduled an appoinment with my doctor, who, when she felt the mass, shouted, "Oh my God!"

To cut the story short, I was sent to Ear, Nose and Throat, where I was diagnosed with cancer of the parotid gland. Surgery was performed almost immediately in late November, in which the nerves to my right eye and the right side of my mouth were removed (because they were cancerous), and a foot-long nerve was removed from my left leg and inserted into my face.

At this point, I have to consiously remember to blink my right eye, and the right side of my mouth does not respond when I speak. In short, the right side of my face is practically frozen, though I have noticed some progress lately. If I do not speak, it is hard to tell that the right side of my face is practically frozen, as the incision was done behind my right ear. But I know it, and sometimes when I wake up in the morning, it is hard for me to look in the mirror, even though the doctors say that it will takes some months before the facial nerves regenerate.

This coming Friday I start radiation therapy for six or seven weeks. I don't look forward to this, but at least it seems as if the cancer has not metastisized.

Aside from cancer, I also have Bipolar disorder, so you can imagine what this illness is doing for my mood.

One question I have (if anybody can help me), is can I sue the hospital for negligence?

For those of you who read my post, my advice is not to let any doctor ignore your symptoms. Your persistence could just save your life.

Reply Flag this Discussion

9 Replies:

  • if you think your physicians were negligent, then you need to take the case to a lawyer to decide if you have grounds for a lawsuit. The lawyer can then explain to you what the grounds are establishing liability. Everyone on this board will most likely respond that it is terrible that you got cancer and you should definitely sue, when I think you know it is not that cut and dry.Good luck with your treatment and recovery.
    fewd4thought 126 Replies
    • January 8, 2008
    • 01:57 AM
    • 0
    Flag this Response
  • Wow. Sounds like quite a rough time you've had! It also sounds like you don't have a regular physician. You can't expect continuity of care at a teaching facility (where you've been going to see resident physicians)...examination of the parotid gland is not part of the general physical exam and its size is highly variable...as you have not established a long term relationship with a doctor who would otherwise be able to tell the small nuances in your body, then three separate physicians relied on their medical expertise and the information that you yourself supplied to reach their decision. By the way, in my experience, many residents are more up-to-date on the latest medical literature and practices so please don't look down on them. There is no way to know when the cancer arose, so there is a possibility that the physican who exclaimed "MY GOD!" (Not very professional) was actually the first physician to examine you since the onset of the cancer. You should be very grateful for that if we're looking for small blessings in this event. In your situation, this is a diagnosis that I myself as a forty+ year physician could have missed.
    sharpsteinnegative 8 Replies
    • January 8, 2008
    • 05:03 AM
    • 0
    Flag this Response
  • Dr. Sharpstein, I've been reading your posts and I just wanted to tell you that I appreciate the experience you bring to the board. It's amazing that you've been at this for 40 years and still care so much about the patient that you will spend your time answering questions and posts on this board. I'd love to meet you sometime. Thanks again...:cool:
    wants2know 1 Replies
    • January 8, 2008
    • 07:04 AM
    • 0
    Flag this Response
  • Absolutely wants2know! It brings me an immense amount of pleasure to have the opportunity to talk about my passion. I'll tell you what, I'll be doing a series of lectures at the University of Birmingham in your area in a couple of months. I'd love to meet up then and visit over some coffee and a rugelach or something- I don't know, I don't know what sort of pastries you like. But I know I can shed of my stories from forty years on you for a nice chuckle or two! Just let me know.
    sharpsteinnegative 8 Replies
    • January 8, 2008
    • 05:55 PM
    • 0
    Flag this Response
  • Yes, your story is heart breaking...you can always talk to an attorney for a free initial consultation in most cases. You are always working against a statute of limitations, which varies state to state, but will be 1 or 2 years. I would encourage you to find some peaceful endeavor that will carry you through your recovery...be it quilting with an upbeat group of ladies, mediation, karate...hypnosis, bio-feedback, etc...let us know what the lawyer says. They may say that you were never treated for it, so there is no malpractice.
    Monsterlove 2921 Replies
    • January 8, 2008
    • 07:20 PM
    • 0
    Flag this Response
  • talk to a lawyer did your 1st 2drs. know you are bipolar? If so then you most likely have a case. I myself am bipolar and have fibro. and oa- the 1st few drs i saw i told them i was bipolar and wasn't treated at all much less listened to then when i did get really sick from lack of treatment they seem either mad at me or suprised. they have the idea that if your bipolar then all your illnesses and pains are mental. good luck
    endoftherope 3 Replies
    • January 9, 2008
    • 04:59 AM
    • 0
    Flag this Response
  • yeah, so you said you are bipolar and it obviously has a big impact on your life. You are a total lonetoon. You most likelikely only have yourself to blame. If you are fearful, then you have to go to the hospital.
    fewd4thought 126 Replies
    • January 13, 2008
    • 08:58 AM
    • 0
    Flag this Response
  • I think a couple of you responders need to be very ashamed of yourselves. This person asked twice of 2 different people in the medical profession about this lump, only to be dismissed. I've gone thru the same experience myself only to later find out there WAS a problem. If it was not within their expertise than they should at least refer to someone who CAN help or at least give a reasonable explaination. Is it such an insult to your ego to realize you may not know ALL the answers. I think you are putting too much emphasis on the fact this person is bi-polar. Does that mean anything they say is to be dismissed?? You forget --there WAS cancer found & surgery needed. Whether or not the cancer was there in the beginning is irrelevant. It also could have been monitered as a PRE-Cancerous condition. I too have asked Drs about certain lumps ,bumps, painful dents in my shin. etc. only to be flippantly told "oh that's nothing". Well it wasn't NOTHING. You can see it & feel it. It's SOMETHING. All I wanted was a short answer as to it's this or that & probably caused by this or that & it should go away or not & to not worry about it. Is it too much to ask a medical professional I am PAYING for a service to answer my question as best they can. The poster is correct. We patients have to do our own research & not be satisfied with the lack of care many of us experience. Pity the sick & uneducated who may not have the resources to do their OWN research. Just because you are the DOCTOR does not mean you are GOD. I do agree with Monsterlove that basically what is done is done & your energy might be better used in some other creative endeavor. Try not to dwell on the wrongs done to you. It was ignorance on their part. Best wishes to you.
    Anonymous 42789 Replies
    • January 13, 2008
    • 06:42 PM
    • 0
    Flag this Response
  • At this point, I have to consiously remember to blink my right eye, and the right side of my mouth does not respond when I speak. In short, the right side of my face is practically frozen, though I have noticed some progress lately. If I do not speak, it is hard to tell that the right side of my face is practically frozen, as the incision was done behind my right ear. But I know it, and sometimes when I wake up in the morning, it is hard for me to look in the mirror, even though the doctors say that it will takes some months before the facial nerves regenerate. First of all I am sorry to hear of your troubles. I cannot offer advice on the lawsuit aspect, but would suggest to you to consider acupuncture to help you get the movement back in your face. Acupuncture is extremely effective for this. It is also helpful in smoothing out your emotions and would be a good adjunct treatment with your allopathic treatments for cancer. IMO the best way to treat cancer is to use all possible modalities to help you, and this includes complimentary medicine like acupuncture. Best wishesDOM
    acuann 3080 Replies
    • January 13, 2008
    • 10:06 PM
    • 0
    Flag this Response
Thanks! A moderator will review your post and it will be live within the next 24 hours.