"Five years on and the pain is still as intense as ever. When I was told my Mum had cancer I never saw it as a life sentence, assuming that she would just have a hysterectomy, chemotherapy and then the all clear. Simple, right?
No. For three years it was a never-ending rollercoaster; good news was immediately followed by bad and eventually Mum appeared to stagnate in her therapy.
There were moments of respite, she got the all clear for six months and for a period of time on a trial drug she felt incredible, so much so she was even able to enjoy a last holiday with my Dad. However, in August 2009, after an overnight stay in the hospital with a ‘virus’, she was never the same again.
That September, I vividly remember a conversation in which Mum told me she wanted to go ice skating at Somerset House before Christmas. “Of course” I replied, “you’ve just got a virus, as soon as this is cleared up we will go. We’ve got ages until Christmas.”
Needless to say it was not a virus. Seeing your Mum, your best friend and your whole world deteriorate is indescribable.
It is only now when I look back I see the battle Mum fought and how incredibly strong she wasLauren
At the time I was not aware of how bad things were, always staying positive and saying “once the next chemo session is out of the way, you’ll be fine”. It is only now when I look back I see the battle Mum fought and how incredibly strong she was.
My mum’s battle ended on New Year’s Day 2010.
People say, “at least she is not suffering any more”, but that has never given me comfort. What makes me despair is that all of this suffering and all of this pain could have been avoided.
Before my Mum was diagnosed she went to her GP countless times to complain about a weak bladder and her belly swelling, but unfortunately this was just put down to ‘middle aged spread’.
Mystifyingly, she was also given pregnancy tests and even told “well I don’t know how big you were before, so I am unable to comment on your weight”. These situations would be funny, if they were not so tragic.
What came as a shock for me was visiting the wards and hearing similar stories from other patients that had also been let down by their GPs.
I know I cannot say 100% that my Mum would still be alive today if her GP was a bit more conscientious, but I think she would have been given a better fighting chance. I just don’t understand why this is acceptable.
Why are GPs not held responsible for their actions? My Mum was diagnosed with ovarian cancer after a simple blood test – why could this not have been done nine months earlier when she first visited her doctor with symptoms? Is it the cost? Surely this would have been cheaper than three years’ worth of chemo and operations?
I want to be the one in control
After dwelling on this for five years, I have decided to dwell no more and would like to see something positive come from this. Mum was BRCA1 positive and I finally feel in the right place to take advantage of the opportunity she has given me to find out whether I also have the same defective gene.
I had my test last week and will receive the results in June. The overriding reason for taking this test is simple; if I do have the gene, I don’t want history to repeat itself and to be brushed off by my GP - I want to be the one in control."