A woman has spoken of her shock at having to have both her breasts removed – despite doctors telling her two years earlier she had nothing to worry about.
Mum Zina Merry is claiming that if doctors had monitored her more closely after a breast cancer scare when she turned 50 the operation may have been avoided.
Zina, now 52, had small metallic markers injected into her left breast after concerns were raised following a routine mammogram two years ago.
She also has a family history of the illness with her aunt, grandma and great gran all dying as a result of breast cancer.
But despite the initial concerns, she says she was not monitored and has now been diagnosed with advanced breast cancer.
In February this year she was told she had three tumours in her left breast and one in her right.
Further tests, after having a double mastectomy, also revealed she has cancerous lymph nodes.
The ward clerk, from Spalding, Lincs., is currently undergoing a course of chemotherapy after her operation and may require further treatment in the future.
For the moment, the married mum-of-one has taken legal advice as she struggles to find answers as to why as she wasn’t made a priority case.
Zina said: “Nobody has told me whether what happened to me is right. I’m not sure whether it was okay that I was put back into the system to have standard routine checks every three years.
“Or whether, as a potential future problem was flagged up and I have a family history of breast cancer, I should have been recalled in a year.
“Either way, something needs to be addressed, either women are being failed or an error has occurred.”
When Zina went for a routine check at a mobile unit back in March 2016, she got a letter days later telling her she had to be recalled to hospital.
While at Lincoln Hospital in Easter 2016 she underwent three hours of tests, for them to inform her they had found a lump on her left breast and her nipple was slightly misshapen.
Doctors at Lincoln Hospital gave her a biopsy and inserted tiny metal markers into her breast, which would alert nurses conducting future mammograms to keep an eye on a particular lump that could be cause for concern, to make sure it has not grown or altered.
Markers are pieces of metal the size of a grain of rice that are injected next to a problem area so they can be monitored – the metal shows up well on X-rays.
When Zina returned to hospital for her results the next month she was delighted to be told she did not have cancer and continued on with her life.
Zina said: “I am bright and breezy. I don’t dwell on things. When they said I was fine, I accepted that and carried on with my life. I never gave it a moment’s thought.
“I am always fit and active and had suffered no symptoms whatsoever.”
That was, until the December 2017, when she started with a bad cough.
By January Zina was suffering with pain in her left arm and couldn’t sleep on her left side and had a burning sensation in her left breast.”
Zina went to her GP and was quickly referred to the Pilgrim Hospital in Boston, Lincs.
Within weeks she was diagnosed with stage two cancer.
It was shocking news for Zina, her husband, Paul, a 55-year-old brick laying lecturer, daughter, Harlee, 12 and step-daughters Chelsea, 25, and Jade Harrison, 22.
Zina said: “It turns out that I have lubular breast cancer, a type of breast cancer that starts in the milk-producing glands of the breast.
“My consultant, Mr Dinesh Thekkinkattil recommended a mastectomy, but as I also had a tumour in my right breast I opted to have them both removed, just to rest easy.
“The care I have had at the Pilgrim Hospital is second-to-none.
“I am coping with my illness as best I can, I am getting on with things, but I feel angry.
“I feel like I have been failed by Lincoln Hospital. I am sure that I should have been monitored more closely.
“If any women out there have any worries at all then I urge them to get a second opinion. Other women could have been missed too.
“I do get that mistakes can happen and that it is possible I got missed, but what I don’t accept is not having an explanation as to what happened to me.
“This cancer could have been detected earlier and I could have survived without a double mastectomy.
“Now, with my family history, I have my young daughter worried and asking me if this will happen to her.
“I hope by getting answers I can assure her that this won’t be her story too.”
United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust have been contacted for comment.