Katie Maytum, 35, had a strong family history of breast cancer. This is why she immediately consulted her family physician when she found a lump on her left breast July 2010. However, for reasons she didn’t understand, Katie had to wait 5 and half months to get an appointment.
By then, it was too late – Katie was told she had cancer on the same day she went to the specialist on January 2011.She had undergone a series of surgeries and rounds of chemotherapy after being diagnosed. Despite heroic efforts, Katie was told she had 18 months to live April of this year.
Believing that an earlier trip to the doctor could have saved her life, Katie is now suing the Welsh NHS Health Board for £750,000. The investigation revealed that despite her GP’s ‘urgent’ recommendations, Katie was downgraded to a ‘routine’ case by a surgeon at the Princess of Wales Hospital in Bridgend, South Wales. This should have not been the case, given Katie’s health and family background according to the Urgent Referral Guidelines of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.
Katie’s legal counsels are asserting that had she been treated as an urgent case, the cancer may have not progressed as quickly and she may have been saved from the death sentence she is facing now.
Early detection and saving lives is a community effort. This story implicates the need for advocates to work closely with people from their local health authorities. Their efforts to push for early detection can be greatly thwarted if high risk women such as Katie will not be given immediate access to tests and health care professionals.