Rachael Sawka recently had a rough year, visiting doctor after doctor, trying to find the right diagnosis for a strange, painful growth on her neck.
Eventually, she was misdiagnosed by five doctors before she found out the truth. But her persistence ended up saving her life.
“Now that I look back on it, it’s been a crazy experience, but it’s been a good experience,” said Sawka with tears in her eyes, according to CTV.
When Rachael found a small bump on her neck, she had no idea how dangerous it was.
Rachael made a visit to her doctor in January of 2016. The 23-year-old from Winnipeg, Canada, had a bump on the back of her neck that was bothering her, and she thought she’d better get it checked out.
A doctor at Seven Oaks Hospital examined her and determined it was a simple cyst, saying she had nothing to be concerned about. That doctor scheduled the removal of Sawka’s cyst by surgery in April, three months after her initial appointment.
But time would prove that the doctor had made a huge mistake.
As the bump grew, she became worried.
Over the next few months, the bump grew rapidly. It also started to bleed regularly and became very painful.
Sawka was very worried. The bleeding became extreme and the pain was getting worse. She made more than several trips to the emergency department, seeing a total of four doctors. But they all said it was just a cyst—nothing serious.
After four doctors said she was fine, the fifth said she had skin cancer.
It was the fifth doctor, the plastic surgeon who was scheduled to remove the ever-growing bump, who seemed to finally offer a conclusive diagnosis.
It wasn’t the diagnosis Sawka or anybody would want to hear, but it was one that Sawka hoped would at least lead her to proper medical treatment.
“You have skin cancer,” that doctor told her.
But even he, too, was wrong.
She finally found out the truth.
Five doctors had now missed the mark in correctly diagnosing Sawka.
Amazingly, no biopsy had been made to test for cancer until just before her scheduled surgery, even though medical staff at Misericordia Health Center had recommended it back in February.
Sawka was finally found to have a rare and aggressive bone cancer called Ewing’s Sarcoma. She would need surgery to remove the tumor immediately, and her case was transferred to CancerCare of Manitoba.
In an 11-hour operation at CancerCare, the tumor was removed, taking affected bone pieces from her skull as well. Doctors used a titanium plate to replace part of Sawka’s skull and skin from her shoulders as replacement for the skin she lost from the back of her head during the surgery, leaving a sizable scar that made it impossible for Sawka to ever grow hair on the back of her head again.
Her family says her suffering could have been avoided.
Had a biopsy been taken early on, as recommended, Sawka would have had an accurate diagnosis earlier and could have avoided more excruciating pain, bleeding, sleepless nights, and extensive surgery.
Sawka could have also been spared agonizing radiation therapy that was required before her surgery to shrink her tumor to a manageable size for removal. The radiation burned her skin to the point of causing heavy bleeding, causing her to need five blood transfusions.
Sawka has since been told that her cancer has a 50% chance of returning, and her case has been brought to the attention of the national health board in Canada.
She used her experience to help others.
It’s been a long and difficult journey for the frustrated Sawka, but the remarkable young woman is using her experience to teach others to fight for their personal health.
“Advocate for yourself. Make sure you’re getting proper care and if you feel something is not right — tell them,” she said, according to Global News. “Do something about it. Speak out, don’t let them just pass you by.”
Had Sawka not continually insisted on answers or sought other opinions, the results could have possibly been more tragic.
Watch the video below:
Source: Woman Told by Four Doctors Not to Worry but Knows They’re Wrong. Then 5th Doctor Confirms Worst Fears from Liftable and Woman with cancerous tumour says she wasn’t taken seriously by CTV News on YouTube.