- Lois Walker said she made 20 calls and multiple visits to the emergency room due to pain, swelling and bowel issues.
- Doctors told her she had health fears, even when her pregnancy became so painful that she threatened suicide.
- During a caesarean section, the doctors found tumors in several organs. She doesn’t know how long she will live.
Content warning: This article mentions suicide.
When Lois Walker began experiencing strange toilet habits and a swollen stomach in June 2020, doctors suspected irritable bowel syndrome.
As her symptoms worsened, the 37-year-old British mother said her GP thought it was “health anxiety” and prescribed her anti-anxiety medication, according to multiple media reports from British media group SWNS.
Even when she asked her doctor if it could be cancer, he dismissed her symptoms as age-related based on her history of skin cancer, she said.
It took 20 calls to her doctor, multiple emergency room visits, and an agonizing pregnancy that resulted in a cesarean more than a year after her symptoms began, before Walker, who is now a mother of three, learned she had terminal cancer 4 suffers. She is now speaking out against the UK healthcare system and is urging doctors to believe patients’ pain.
“If there’s just one medical professional reading this and thinking, ‘We have to do better,’ then that’s all I want,” she told the BBC. “I don’t want anyone to go through what I’m going through.”
Walker’s pregnancy was so painful that she told doctors she was going to kill herself and her unborn baby
Walker’s extreme symptoms during pregnancy didn’t prompt further investigation until it was too late, she said.
At 14 weeks pregnant, she said she could not walk or eat because of the pain. It only got worse.
Nine months pregnant, she said she weighed the same as before pregnancy, but doctors weren’t concerned.
“Then the last straw was when they had to involve the mental health team because I said it had reached the point where I would have to end both of our lives and I’m ashamed to say that,” she said. reported SWNS. Walker was hospitalized and given morphine, but the cause of her symptoms remained unexplored.
Eventually, after pushing her doctor further, clinicians found a mass behind her uterus that led to a cesarean in September 2021, she said. There they found tumors in her ovaries, abdomen and lymph nodes. The cancer had also spread to her intestines and liver.
“They basically just said that my stomach was so sick that they had to send in some biopsies and I would have to wait. But I knew it anyway,” Walker said. “The doctor actually grabbed my hand and he cried, and he actually said he was going to let me down.”
Walker has undergone chemotherapy and surgeries, including a hysterectomy. She is also planning a double mastectomy, according to a fundraising page started by her sister. The family thinks baby Ray is a miracle.
“It was really, really hard,” Walker told the BBC. “I didn’t want to commit to him, but he’s my sunshine. My children are my goal. I want to focus on creating memories. If love could save me, I would never die.”
Young women are more likely to be victims of “medical gaslighting”
Research shows women are more likely to be victims of medical gaslighting, or when medical professionals dismiss a person’s symptoms, refuse tests or treatment, and ultimately misdiagnose them.
More and more are speaking up. It took 23-year-old Chloe Girardier five months and seven doctor’s appointments to get serious about her persistent cough and weight loss, The Sun reported. She had Hodgkin lymphoma, a rare cancer that required intensive chemotherapy.
Amanda Lee, a 28-year-old actress and wedding photographer, said her doctor said her severe abdominal pain was “not that bad” because it led to it
, according to Today Health. She was later diagnosed with stage 3A colon cancer.
Georgia Ford, 20, said her pain, cramps, vomiting and weight loss were dismissed as “all on her mind”. She had stage four kidney cancer.
Women “are not believed, and this leads to significant delays in treatment, misdiagnosis, late diagnosis, ineffective treatment and ineffective triage,” said Dr. Garima Sharma, an internist and cardiologist at Johns Hopkins University, told Insider. “Women pay a very high price.”