Breast cancer disaster

(as the patient),

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About: Royal Perth Hospital

About a year ago my GP informed me I had breast cancer and referred me to Royal Perth Hospital. I saw a surgeon, and in a less than a 10 minute meeting they told me I would have to have a mastectomy and proceeded to book me in for surgery and directed me out the door.

As you could imagine, I was very distraught. Surgery was booked soon after.

I started to check out my options, expecting another meeting with the surgeon .i.e., with reconstructive surgery. That never happened.

The next time I saw the surgeon was in the operating room, just before they were about to cut me open.  One of the nurses noticed me crying and asked if I was okay. I told them I didn't get another meeting with the surgeon to discuss my options. The nurse said they would try and get my surgeon to come speak to me.

The same surgeon came out and asked what was wrong with me, as they had a full theatre that day. Fighting back more tears I told them I wanted reconstruction. The surgeon asked why I didn't tell them that already. I said we had only met once, when I was told I had to have a mastectomy and wasn't given any information about reconstruction in that meeting.

The surgeon told me it was too late now as didn't have the plastic team on standby. They have to be booked and it was too bad if I wanted reconstruction now.

Its been over a year and I've finally had my appointment with the reconstruction team only to now find out that I'm too fat to have reconstruction.

Cancer can be a very depressing time and the only thing that kept me going was that after all this I could get reconstruction and move on with my life. But this is not to be. I'm falling deeper into depression, eating more, gaining even more weight and considering taking my own life.

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Responses to this story

Response from Lesley Bennett, Executive Director, Royal Perth Bentley Group

picture of Lesley Bennett

Dear No breast for me,

Please let me start by apologising to you for what has occurred. Being diagnosed with a serious illness is a traumatic and frightening experience, which in your case has been compounded by the painful experience of undergoing a mastectomy. I am deeply sorry that your options around reconstruction were not discussed with you at the time and that you were not properly communicated with or treated with the dignity that you deserve. It is understandable that what has occurred has led to you feeling depressed. However, let me assure you that there are options available to you and implore you that suicide is not the answer.

So that we can review your treatment, as well as support you and discuss your options for future treatment, can I please ask you to contact us through our Consumer Engagement Unit on 9224 1637. The team will be awaiting your call to assist you. I am personally interested to learn of the management of your case and have oversight of your treatment going forward. We will be waiting to hear from you and assist you.

Yours sincerely

Dr Lesley Bennett

Executive Director

Royal Perth Bentley Group

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