A Sutton mum who is raising money to privately treat her stage four lung cancer has criticised doctors who missed her illness at a stage when it may have been treatable.
Rachel Lucas, aged 44, who has two young sons and taught art at Sutton’s Quarrydale Academy, believes staff at King’s Mill Hospital missed chances to treat her cancer as they assured her it was nothing ‘sinister.’
She said: “I’m devastated, because it would have been curable if I had been treated when it was first noticed.
“I thought something was wrong. I was feeling run-down, but was assured it was nothing sinister.”
Rachel started noticing problems in February 2016 and had a X-ray, which revealed a shadow on one of her lungs.
She was then put on a cancer pathway and passed to a respiratory consultant at the Sutton hospital who put Rachel on antibiotics and told her it was an infection.
She said: “Every other month, I had another x-ray which showed progression of the shadow.
“The diagnosis was I had self-organising pneumonia and I was taken off the cancer pathway.
“In June 2016, I was told I was cancer-free.”
However, in December, Rachel was rushed to hospital with sepsis after she came off her antibiotics, spending five days on a ward because of her weakened immune system.
On the day she was discharged, Rachel was told about a radiologist’s report, following a procedure with a few weeks earlier.
Rachel said: “Hospital staff told me while I was leaving that the radiologist thought I had signs of cancer.
“The staff, however, told me they did not think it was a problem and the staff member on the scan was not experienced.
“I pushed for a biopsy as I needed closure and felt I could not be on antibiotics indefinitely and three months later, I had the biopsy.
“My mother came with me to hear the results a week or so later.
“I knew from the consultant’s face it wasn’t good.
“ He sat us down and said ‘I’m really sorry, you have cancer’.
“I had to watch my mother break down, unable to deal with the devastating news I had late-stage lung cancer and no suitable treatment plans were available.
A spokeswoman for Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs King’s Mill, said: “The trust sympathises with Ms Lucas’s condition and would like to invite her to meet with us to discuss her care, as we have not yet received any indication from her that she has any concerns.
“Although we cannot comment on the detail of individual cases, we would like to reassure Ms Lucas that patients presenting to Sherwood Forest Hospitals with respiratory conditions are treated according to their symptoms.
“Investigations are ordered based upon assessment by a clinician to confirm the diagnosis.
“Many factors are taken in to consideration during the clinical assessment, including symptoms, age and other risk factors.
“We follow national guidelines in relation to patient investigation and treatment where these exist.”
Rachel is currently raising money so she can receive private treatment.