Thanks to Margaret Dore of Choice is an Illusion for posting the story below about an incorrect diagnosis that fortunately did not lead to a hastened death but easily might have. The story is about a woman who underwent destructive chemotherapy therapy after receiving a diagnosis of Stage 4 terminal cancer. See our recent post about the Italian man who died at the Swiss assisted suicide clinic Dignitas after two doctors incorrectly diagnosed him with a fatal disease (http://truedignityvt.org/?p=1132).
Our legislators heard plenty of testimony about the unreliability of medical prognoses. Along with Governor Shumlin, who had promised in two campaigns to legalize assisted suicide, they chose to disregard warnings from doctors and patients that people will die under this law who might have lived for years. They allowed an inflexible ideological commitment to a purely theoretical concept of autonomy to overcome a commitment to real-life autonomy. Does anyone think the Italian man would have chosen assisted suicide or this woman chemotherapy had their choice been fully informed? This law, which purports to offer patients choice at the end of life, will do exactly the opposite.
Here’s the story, which can also be read at the following link to the Choice is an Illusion website: http://www.choiceillusion.org/2013/07/texas-women-underwent-chemo-after-false.html.
Texas Women Underwent Chemo After False Diagnosis
Herlinda Garcia, 54, was diagnosed with stage 4 terminal breast cancer after she had a benign tumor removed from her left breast. Through the next seven months and eight rounds of chemotherapy, she felt her body and mind deteriorating.
“Everything was swollen,” Garcia told KHOU. “I lost my eyebrows, my eyelashes. It’s really hard. I can’t explain how I felt. It’s like I was in a dream.”
Certain that her life was coming to an end, the part-time civil process worker gave away most of her belongings and wrote a bucket list.
“I just wanted to give up on everything,” Garcia said.
But when she decided to seek help for her growing anxiety at Citizens Medical Center, a series of scans revealed a new reality: Garcia never had cancer.
At MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, a second opinion confirmed what doctors at Citizens Medical Center had discovered.
“I was happy, but at the same time, I had anger,” Garcia said. “The damage had been done.”
For her pain and suffering, a Victoria County jury awarded Garcia $367,000. Garcia said she hopes her experience will lead others to always seek a second opinion.
“I know I’m never going to feel the same because of what I went through,” she said. “It changed my life.”