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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Age and Cancer?

Does cancer care how old you are? I think we all know the answer to that question. No, it doesn't. So why do doctors so often misdiagnose someone because they are young? Why do symptoms get ignored or people get passed off as depressed or obsessive?

I had many symptoms that shouldn't have been ignored. I was told for four years I had a thyroid problem. I did have four thyroid nodules so I do not blame the doctors for initially thinking that's what caused the sensation of pressure in my neck. I do however blame them for telling me "The nodules aren't growing. They just aren't big enough to be causing those symptoms. Come back for another sonogram in a few months." This is what I heard time and time again. I would leave crying. Why did I have to live with this horrible pressure??? I would HOPE and pray they'd find that the nodules were huge and needed to be removed. I wanted them gone. I wanted the pressure gone. Imagine feeling like someone had their thumbs jammed into both sides of your neck all day. Right where our veins are in the sides of your neck. Imagine the pressure you feel in your head when you have your worst head cold. You know how you bend over and your head feels like a bowling ball? I felt like this every day. 24/7. I was sent to Ear, Nose and Throat specialists. I was put on Allegra, Singular, and even given prednisone for eyelid rashes and swelling. Yes, I even woke up each morning with my eyelids swollen so badly I wouldn't even go anywhere. I used to try to sleep elevated wondering if this was all a part of getting older. I had so many signs. I was wheezing. They told me maybe I have allergies, or slight asthma. I couldn't breathe. It was SO much worse at night and until I could no longer put my hair into a ponytail because if I tried to put my hands above my head my whole face turned beat red and choked me to death, no one listened. My chest was visibly swollen, my neck veins protruding grotesquely before any doctor paid any real attention to my complaints. I know there are hypochondriacs out there. I realize some people really are depressed. But doctors need to listen to their patients. They cannot take a risk by just saying "You're depressed, take a pill." I was so lucky that my cancer didn't invade all my major organs and kill me for how long I let it go. I listened to the docs. I felt they must be right. It took one very kind endocrinologist who finally listened. I cannot begin to tell you how happy I was the day I went to this new doctor. I sat down and told her my complaints. I told her how no one listened. She said she could see my problem and knew I was serious. It was quite possibly the worst case of superior vena cava she had ever seen. I was relieved. She saw it. She knew something was wrong. I was going to get help. She did a thyroid biopsy then an MRI. That's where it all began and how we found out was wrong. I love that doc to this day and yet that was the only time I ever saw her. She quite possibly saved my life.

I am not saying you should be paranoid or worry that every little thing could be cancer or some serious disease because it most likely is not. The thing is we know our bodies. We know if something is wrong. If you feel something is very wrong find a doctor who will listen. Even your family members may tell you it's in your head but if you just feel like something is not right get it checked.

My oldest sister had excruciating pains after her fourth child. She constantly complained to her OB/GYN that her bones felt like they were breaking down below. He called her depressed and wanted to give her pills. She was in agonizing pain but he felt she was just having postpartum depression. She came to my house crying. I know my sister. I told her she was not insane. She found a doc who listened and guess what? Her uterus was prolapsed. Literally coming out of her. She had to have a hysterectomy. If she hadn't persisted god only knows what could have happened. The thing is, I am not encouraging anyone to be crazy or feel like something is wrong if it isn't. I am talking about obvious, no doubt about it, you are in pain or something is NOT right. We knew it. There was zero doubt that something was not right. I think that docs often think that because we are young these things cannot happen. They do happen. It's time you listen to your patients. It just might save a life.


Anonymous said...

one of my favorite shows to watch is Mystery Diagnosis on Discovery Health and every time i watch i'm floored at how many doctors ignore or brush off their patient's complaints. thank you for sharing your story!

Anonymous said...

It is terrifying to hear stories like this. Do you watch the show "Mystery Diagnosis" You can see that these misdiagnosises are happening way to much. You should send in your story. It seems like only about 90% of Drs have what it takes to do the necessary detective work that goes along with their job. You have to be your own advocate - you have to nag, bitch, complain - whatever it takes.


Svr said...

I've never seen that show! I'll have to look for it!

I am bestowing a blog award on you!! Hee, hee! You deserve them!!

Stop by & get them when you'd like!

Getting sick of them yet???

Sandi said...

No I am never sick of the awards! I'll stop by and grab it :) I like giving them to you too. haha I have seen that Mystery Diagnosis and it drags me in. The problem is I think I get a little paranoid. I think to myself "Hey...I've had that symptom. Or hey, myd kid has had that strange eye twitch before." TOTALLY random. lol No eye twitches here but you know what I mean. I think I start diagnosing my whole family with all these illnesses. haha I never really thought about submitting my story. I guess it could apply. :)

Jenni said...

I think that is SO true. And I think too often we let doctors brush us off because they are supposed to be the experts...

Meaghan said...

Wonderful post! I too went misdiagnosed and almost lost my life as a result! 28 with end stage cervical cancer. I had all the signs but my age was "wrong" so I kept being sent home. I almost bled to death and needed numerous blood infusions before they could even put me on a plane to go to a cancer institute in Boston. its shame and things need to change!

Anonymous said...

When things occur repetitively, it becomes a norm and people will take things for granted ... if A happened, then B will be the consequence. In so speaking, Doctor could possibly fall into the same trap, if this person is suffering from condition 1, 2, 3 and 4 then that person must be suffering from this condition or this illness.

As in what you have written, this is dangerous when doctor falls into this trap. As Doctor, he/she should always have the attitude to learn, unlearn and relearn.

Jackie said...

First I would like to congratulate you on the birth of a beautiful little girl.

Also I admire your courage and am very glad that you are in remission. I shall keep you in my prayers.

My husband's family has been torn apart by cancer.

Four years ago we lost our niece who was only in her early 40's. She was very health conscious, non smoker and non drinker.

Sadly one morning without any other prior warning she got up to find one nipple was indented and deformed.

She immediately saw her DR. and the diagnosis was stage four metastatic cancer.

Before she even knew anything was wrong her entire body had been attacked. She died just short of 2 years of that first morning.

We lost her mother just last year at age 64. she too simply woke up and felt bloated in her stomach. She waited a few days just thinking that she was constipated.

Finally after a week and the pain became really bad she too saw her DR. and the tests began.

She too had cancer and it had spread throughout her entire body. Six months later she was gone.

This is a really scary illness and it can kill so swiftly and it cares not who it attacks!!

Thank you for sharing your story with all of us. it truly does!!:-)

iceah said...

hi Sandi am a fan of yours c: tried the year I was Born and linked it to you c: