Melissa Sutton was told repeatedly by doctors that she had a sports injury after complaining of pain around her rib cage and shortness of breath. It turns out that the teenager actually has bone cancer.
The painkillers prescribed for what Melissa’s GP assumed was a pulled muscle didn’t help and the pain eventually became so bad she couldn’t lie down or sleep at night, reported the Daily Mail. Over a three-month period, the 16-year-old from Rochdale, Lancashire, attended the same doctor’s surgery no less than 10 times and was seen by four different GPs — who all told her she had a sports injury.
When the pain became so intense Melissa’s mother Alison Brookes took her to A&E it was discovered that she had a collapsed lung. Scans revealed that she has Ewing’s Sarcoma, a rare type of bone cancer. She had an operation to remove four of her ribs and is now undergoing chemotherapy and radiotherapy at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital.
Mrs. Brookes told the Daily Mail that she feels that they were “fobbed off” by Melissa’s GP, who she believes missed several opportunities to diagnose her daughter’s cancer earlier.
”She did a lot of trampolining so we had faith in the doctor’s opinion at first, but soon the pain got so bad that she couldn’t sleep at night,” said Mrs. Brookes. “The painkillers did nothing to help Melissa. It gradually just got worse. I took Melissa back to visit the doctor time and time again but they always said the same thing. We saw four different GPs at the same practice in at least ten separate medical appointments and they all fobbed us off. Melissa would sit on the sofa crying in pain. She has never been one to moan or complain and it was awful to see her suffering. She felt as though no-one believed her.”
“I am just glad I rushed Melissa to hospital that day,” she added. “If I hadn’t I could be telling a very different story.”
Raj Patel, medical director for NHS England in Greater Manchester and Lancashire said: “We would like our express our sympathy and concern for Alison and her family during what must be a distressing time for them. Our priority is to ensure that patients receive the highest quality primary care services at all times. We have not yet received a complaint by Alison or her family but should we do so, we will take the issue forward and investigate it thoroughly (sic).”
Luckily most of the time our doctors get it right. But Melissa’s story has an important message: if you think they haven’t, don’t give up. Sometimes instinct is just as powerful as medical training.