In a nation where a potentially life-threatening blood clot can be discovered in the brain of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and effectively treated within weeks, a single New York mother was allowed to walk into an emergency room with chest pains in 2010, and walk out without being informed that a potentially cancerous nodule was discovered until 2012 — when she was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer and given 6 months to live.
And what did the doctors do when they told her?
They gave her an apology and a hug.
In February of 2010, Laverne Wilkinson experienced sudden chest pain and rushed to the emergency room at Kings County Hospital, afraid that she was having a heart attack.
She had an EKG and a chest x-ray, was told everything was fine and to follow up if she experienced any further symptoms. Unbeknownst to her, the radiologist discovered a nodule 2 centimeters in diameter, but she was released without being told to follow-up with a doctor.
For two years Wilkinson found herself on a merry-go-round of treatments for asthma, including cough medication and steroids. In the spring of 2012, she returned to the emergency room wheezing and short of breath. The new X-ray determined that the nodule had more than doubled in size and spread to her left lung.
Wilkinson now has Stage 4 lung cancer that has metastasized in her liver, spine and brain. Even more tragically, as a non-smoker, her lung cancer had a 75% cure rate if detected early — which is was. Now she faces leaving behind a 15-year-old severely mentally impaired daughter in 6 months.
“She is going to be left without a mother,” Wilkinson cried. “What is going to happen to my little girl?”
See the live-saving information that she was never given below:
Dr. Gary Briefel recalls the moment when he told Wilkerson the news:
“I spoke to the patient about the fact that she had a chest X-ray in Feb 2010 while she was in the ED that showed a nodule that probably represented an earlier stage of what we now know is Squamous Cell Cancer,” Briefel wrote. “I told her that apparently nobody saw the report, which suggested either repeating the X-ray or getting a CT scan. I told her that it was not clear whether earlier diagnosis would have led to a cure, since many lung cancers by the time they are seen on a CXR (chest X-ray) have already spread, but that it was possible that a surgical cure could have been achieved.”