A Failed System

You have mono,” the doctor at the walk-in clinic told my mother in the fall of 2010. She was then bed-ridden for over a month, lost her appetite, was constantly dizzy and nauseous until one very late night, she collapsed on her living room floor, somehow managing to call her sister who then dialed 9-1-1. My mother unknowingly had walked out of that clinic with multiple brain tumors that were aggressively pressing against her skull, stage four cancer in her lungs and a prognosis of less than a year.

It’s just an ovarian cyst,” the doctors assured my twenty-something friend during a pelvic exam. A month later, that cyst had grown into a tumor the size of a grapefruit; she endured countless chemotherapy treatments, a full hysterectomy and multiple doctor visits and hospital stays. Three years after that tumor was deemed “just a cyst,” she unfortunately passed away.

These are just two exemplary stories, two avoidable and disastrous histories that hit close to home, that perfectly demonstrate why I do not trust or rely on our healthcare providers or the healthcare system as a whole. This is not a bashing of every doctor, clinic or hospital out there, but I’m simply stating that our healthcare system is no better than our government or our justice system. It’s an industry designed around crooked politics and dirty money.

I highly doubt the clinic that misdiagnosed my fifty-five year old mother with mononucleosis, a virus that primarily affects adolescents, is out of business or that it’s being held responsible for such an atrocity. The insurance companies certainly don’t give a shit about our personal reasons for desiring to acquire a tubal ligation. And I wonder just how many women out there walking around with ovarian cysts are actually walking around with fast growing, malignant tumors? I wonder if I might be one of them.

I recently had a pelvic and trans-vaginal ultrasound due to irregular bleeding. The report came back revealing a complex, septated ovarian cystic mass and moderate free fluid in my pelvic area. My doctor then called for a cancer antigen 125, also known as CA 125, blood test. This test is predominantly used on patients who have already been diagnosed with ovarian cancer and are being treated. The test basically tells them if the tumors are responding to the treatment. My blood test came back in the normal range.

I cannot seem to get my primary care doctor or my gynecologist on the fucking phone for two minutes to ask the necessary questions so I have conducted my own research and I am not content with a simple blood test. I have a history of ovarian cancer in my family and did you know that with each passing generation, one’s chances of getting the disease increase? My great-grandmother on my grandfather’s side died of it. Breast cancer also increases one’s chances of getting ovarian cancer – my maternal grandmother has fought and beat it twice. Did you also know that not having had children increases one’s chances of getting ovarian cancer but that tubal ligation has been known to prevent such odds? Yeah, well, the insurance company has yet to authorize my tubal ligation as they “need more information” from my provider as to why I need this surgery. So, when the old, white men on Capitol Hill aren’t dictating what I can and cannot do with my body, the stuffed shirts of corporate America are.

I want a biopsy. I want to be monitored. I want to have monthly pelvic ultrasounds. Are the cysts growing? Are they changing at all? A biopsy is the only true, surefire method of determining the content of these so-called cysts. Unfortunately, getting the opportunity to speak to a so-called professional about all of these concerns is half the battle. Getting the insurance company to authorize a biopsy and routine ultrasounds is an entire other battle and one that is completely out of my control. But I’m gonna fight like hell to make it happen because I refuse to be a misdiagnosed patient brushed to the wayside, a manila folder lost amidst the many flaws of a failed system.