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rightly so). He said, `It's your breast. Don't you check
yourself on a regular basis?' All I could say was, `No, I
don't.' But from that moment on I knew, instinctive-
ly, that I had breast cancer."
While Chiqeeta was confident of that fact,
no treatment can start until a doctor recognizes it,
right? One of the most memorable and personally
distressing stories I have encountered as a patient
advocate, Chiqeeta's story is a great example of a
test result giving wrong information.
"Every day, we patients are given medical
tests and we trust that they are accurate. The results
determine whatever happens next. We may be di-
agnosed with something new or prescribed a new
treatment. A treatment may be changed, or may-
be we'll be declared cured of whatever our medi-
cal problem was. The results might suggest we just
keep doing what we've been doing. What most of
us don't realize is that not all test results are correct
or accurate. Incorrect or inaccurate test results may
lead to a misdiagnosis, a missed diagnosis, or a fail-
ure to diagnose. We may have something wrong
and not get treated for it, or we may suffer through
treatment for something we didn't really have." ~Tri-
sha Torrey, www.verywell.com, How Accurate Are
Your Medical Test Results?, March 2017
Next, Chiqeeta went to see her OBGYN. He
knew she had had lumpy fibrocystic breasts and
several cysts removed, so assumed this also had to
be a cyst. "He then reminded me that six months
earlier I had my first mammogram with negative re-
sults. He told me that I was under stress because I
was getting married soon and not to worry. And be-
sides, he said, I was 41 and too young to have breast
cancer. I left his office thinking that my sister was 51
when she had breast cancer, so I had ten more years
to worry about it. I moved on. At least I tried."
The lump got bigger. Chiqeeta was still
plagued with the nagging thought that she had
breast cancer. Like many of us, she probably told
herself that she was being a hypochondriac, but
Chiqeeta persisted anyway. She met with a 2nd
OBGYN who sent her for another mammogram. Six
weeks later, the mystery continued when Chiqee-
ta received what she refers to as her second `Happy
Gram' letter saying that her results were negative
and to come back next year.
Many people would have simply gone on
with their life, but Chiqeeta is a great example of a
patient advocate. "A dear friend recommended that
I see a breast surgeon for yet another opinion. He
had to know more, right? Breasts are what he works
on all day. The surgeon looked at my mammo-
gram, did a CBE (Clinical Breast Examination), and
read my reports. He supported what the other two
doctors were telling me; the lump is a cyst. He said,
`Nothing showed up on either mammogram. And
besides, you are too young to have breast cancer.
Stop second-guessing your diagnosis.' Well, there
you have it. They were the doctors with the experi-
ence. They should know. So, I put the issue behind
me...for a minute. The nagging thought that I had
breast cancer kept coming back. I could not stop
thinking about my sister who was diagnosed with
breast cancer at 51 and had a double mastectomy.
Why could I not let go, and why was no one else
worried about this lump that seemed to be getting
bigger?"
Nine months after she discovered the lump
in her breast, Chiqeeta made an appointment with
Dr. Kevin Kelly, a Radiologist and head of the breast
imaging department at The Hill Breast Center in
Pasadena, CA. "I took my mammograms and re-
ports, with me. Again, I thought that he had to know
more. All he did all day was look at mammogram
images. I thought that maybe he could see some-
thing in my mammograms that the others missed.
I told him my entire story. He listened and before
he did an examination he told me, `I learned a long
time ago to trust the instincts of a woman.'" Dr. Kel-
ly ordered another mammogram. But this time, he
told Chiqeeta to "stay put" because they would look
at them together.
"A little later Dr. Kelly came into the room
and shoved the films on the light board and
showed me my mammogram images. He told me,
`You could hide a Mack truck in there.You have ex-
tremely dense-breast tissue (DBT). That means that
your tissue shows up white on the mammogram.