Rita Bradt, Martinez, CA

For five years I went to doctors complaining of digestive blockages, feeling bloated and loss of appetite. The only medication I was taking was synthroid and went to my endocrinologist several times asking if the synthroid in any way could be the problem. Each visit he simply said no it wasn’t related. Even though I told him of my complaints, he never referred me to anyone and at one point said it was all in my head!

After my husband and I moved to Reno I was still having symptoms and saw a gastroenterologist who did an MRI. We met to discuss the results and told me there was a blockage and I suffered from radiation enteritis from receiving radiation for cervical cancer in the late 80′s. He said surgery was not an option since he had no way of knowing where the blockage was and felt the radiation enteritis was giving me the bulk of my problems. He gave me a copy of the report along with the CD of the MRI and told me if I experienced a blockage to get to the ER as soon as I could.

Weeks later I got violently ill. I was vomiting uncontrollably for an hour. The next day I went to a doctor in the small town in which we now live. I told him my story and he ordered blood tests to include a CA125. The CA125 came back high, very high, like around 500. I was referred to a GI surgeon in San Francisco and he took one look at the CD of my scan to inform me that he could see something suspicious and five days later I was in the hospital undergoing a laproscopic exploratory operation. The surgeon called with the news. The biopsy came back positive for ovarian cancer. I wondered how that could be since I no longer had my ovaries. I then went to my OB-GYN physician I have had for years and he in turn referred to me a Gynecologic Oncologist, Dr. Dimitry Lerner. Dr. Lerner read the report from the exploratory surgery and informed me I had primary peritoneal carcinoma, Stage IV. Two weeks later I underwent debunking surgery and 18 rounds of chemo. Dr. Lerner was able to remove all the cancer and I am now cancer free. This particular cancer has a high risk of returning, but I try not to think about it. I live each day to the fullest.

I complained and described my symptoms to three or four doctors. At no time was I referred to anyone, at no time did any of the doctors listen to what I was saying and it took me two years to finally find the right doctor. Two years of the cancer growing and spreading inside me.

My message is: Be your own advocate! Never give up. If things don’t feel right see as many doctors as it takes who will listen. I ultimately ended up with the greatest and best surgeon and oncologist in the Bay Area. I am now in the hands of doctors who care and who listen. Today I am cancer free. I try not to think about the doctors who misdiagnosed me.

During my chemo treatments I was hospitalized six times with severe side effects. It was a battle but I prevailed! Thank you for reading my story.