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Saturday, April 7, 2007

Sorry, you didn’t have cancer: A misdiagnosis story

Suffering from chest pain and difficulty breathing, Muriel Lavallee went to the hospital, and was sent to another hospital. There, doctors drew fluid from around her heart, which the pathologist reported was cancerous. Doctors immediately began chemotherapy, in November 2004. Over the next four months, she was hospitalized five times, spending 42 days in the hospital, with various infections, weakness, and outbreaks of the C. difficile bacterium. She became so ill that the doctor decided to stop the chemotherapy.

A week later, she was shocked to hear, "Sorry, you didn’t have cancer. You can go home now."

Then 59, she had lost her hair, and a sense of feeling in her hands and legs. Muriel is still suffering the loss of feeling, which prevents her from returning to her job at WalMart. She is seeking $155,000 from the Quebec Superior Court, which is scheduled to hear her lawsuit in July.

Advice to chemo patients: Ask the doctor the false positive rate of the test that showed you have cancer, and consider asking for an independent retest.

Read a cancer advocacy story, or read Dene Moore’s source story in the Toronto Star.

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