Tuesday, June 30, 2009
My mother was diagnosed with stage 4 throat cancer 2 weeks ago. It's been a nightmare.
She lost her voice before Christmas, and it didn't come back. On April 9th she saw a doctor and he told her it was "nothing". He prescribed antibiotics.
When the antibiotics didn't help, my mom went back to see him and said "I'm a smoker; shouldn't I have xrays?" He said "If you think you need them". He later told her the xrays showed a "thickening" in her throat. Again he said it was "nothing". My mom asked to see a specialist and he told her she'd have to find her own specialist, come back with the info, and then he'd write the referral.
I found my mom a specialist. I spoke with the specialist's receptionist and told her what was going on. She said to make sure the doctor writes "urgent" on the referral because it sounds serious. She said that if he didn't write urgent, my mom would have to wait 6-8 months or more for an appointment.
I called the doctor and told his receptionist this. She put me on hold and then came back and told me that the doctor was refusing to write urgent on the referral because "it's not urgent; it's nothing".
It took us a month or longer to convince my mom to seek a second opinion. She believed the doctor when he said it was "nothing". When she finally went to emergency, the doctor was appalled that the first doctor hadn't even sent my mom for blood work. He referred her to the same specialist I found, and put urgent on the referral and my mom saw him within 2 weeks, instead of having to wait 6-8 months like the first doctor wanted her to.
The specialist was amazing. He saw her at 4PM on Monday June 15th, and by 8 AM June 16th my Mom was registering at the hospital to get a CAT scan. Later that day she had a biopsy. By the following Monday, June 22nd my Mom and Dad were in Sudbury, a city 4 hours away from ours, and the closest place for her to get cancer treatment. She saw 3 cancer specialists who told her that she had stage 4 throat cancer, and that she would need 6 weeks of very aggressive treatment with chemo and radiation. They pulled out all of her teeth because the teeth would have fallen out during treatment. They sent her home to the Sault, where we live, to wait for a start date for treatment, and to get surgery to have a feeding tube inserted; she may be unable to eat during treatment.
We're still waiting for the feeding tube surgery, but on Sunday my parents are driving back to Sudbury because her cancer treatment starts on Monday.
They said there is a 70% chance that the treatment will get the cancer, but if not, they will have to remove my Mom's voice box.
All this, but the first doctor insisted it was "nothing", and my mom would still believe it was nothing, and she would still be waiting for months to see the specialist. She would have died had we not made her get a second opinion.
I filed a complaint with the College of Dr's here in Ontario, and they are investigating.
If you pray, please pray for my Mom, and please pray that the doctor doesn't do this to another patient. He didn't take her seriously; he didn't even bother to send her for diagnostic tests, and he flat out refused to write "urgent" on the referral. In fact, he wouldn't even have referred her to a specialist had I not first found the specialist and called his office with the information.
Ever since my Mom saw the second doctor and we first heard the word cancer, i have been unable to eat during the day and unable to stop eating at night. Yesterday I went to the health food store and bought some vitamins, liquid iron (I'm anemic), and protein powder...I'm going to have protein shakes for breakfast and lunch so that at least my body gets some nutrients, and I'm going to really try to abstain from eating junk later on in the evenings. I am an emotional eater and a binge eater and I use food the way addicts use drugs, to numb my feelings, but I have to stay strong for my parents. I've already gained all of the weight I've ever lost back, and I'm already obese; probably morbidly obese, so I can't afford to gain any more weight. I have to try to get healthy so I can be of help to my parents.
I'm going to try my best, and I hope that will be good enough.