Thirty-seven million American women get routine mammograms every year, and quite frequently, doctors find an abnormality, which leads to a biopsy. We hope that the biopsy results will turn out benign, but what if it's actually cancer? What if we're told it's cancer ... but it's NOT? That's the nightmare Judy Valencia from Saginaw, Michigan shared with Nightline's Cynthia McFadden this week ...
When Judy's doctors saw an abnormality on one of her mammograms, they told her to get a biopsy of her breast tissue. And based on the results of that biopsy, she was told she had cancer. Then, she was told she had two choices: A lumpectomy to remove the cancerous portion or a mastectomy to remove her entire breast. Because she had a strong family history of breast cancer, she ended up having both breasts removed. But when she couldn't retrieve paperwork from the hospital for her insurance, she hired a lawyer ... who found out through a specialist in NYC that Valencia never had the disease.
Wow. Can you even fathom ...
"There is no one who questions a biopsy and gets it double checked," Judy told Nightline. Whether it's because of the emotions involved or the blind trust we have in our doctors and tests like a biopsy, getting a second opinion with matters like these is definitely more rare than common. And that's something Judy's obviously speaking up about and hoping her story leads women to question more and seek second opinions.
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According to Dr. Elisa Port, one of the nation's leading breast surgeons who works at Mount Sinai's Dubin Breast Center, there are women out there like Judy who end up misdiagnosed just because they're being treated by someone with a lack of expertise to know what is in front of them. It's unnerving, to say the least.
While she's grateful to be cancer-free and be able to hug her grandchildren, Judy still believes, "Nothing is the same." She is suing the hospital and the doctors who initially diagnosed her with breast cancer for damages. There's no doubt in my mind she should win everything she's asking for. And if women hear her story and are more likely to get a second opinion, she'll have won even more.
You can check out the Nightline segment here ...
What do you make of Judy's story? Does this make you more likely to seek a second opinion for a diagnosis?
Image via ABC