Despite excellent advances in the medical field, unfortunately, some adults and children experience cancer misdiagnosis. Cancer Research UK also states thataround 115,000 cancer patients in England arediagnosed too late to give them the best chance of survival. Experiencing something as traumatic as a cancer misdiagnosis can have a profound impact on your mental health and those around you.
It’s normal to experience a range of emotions, from anxiety to fear, anger to sadness. If you’ve been through this, or know someone who has, it’s important to be aware of ways to cope with the rollercoaster of emotions that come with this devastating news.
What is a cancer misdiagnosis?
A misdiagnosis generally refers to a missed or late diagnosis of cancer. It happens when the signs of cancer are not spotted by a medical professional.
They may even mistake it for another illness entirely – this would be consideredan incorrect diagnosis. You may have undergone intensive procedures that weren’t required, such as the removal of breast tissue, for example.
It isn’t fair for someone to experience this due to someone else’s negligence, as a cancer misdiagnosis can very quickly impact a patient’s life, both physically and psychologically. The speed at which some cancers develop means that quick access to treatment is crucial – and someone’s life could even depend on it if they have a particularly aggressive form of cancer. The later the diagnosis, the more the chances of survival can diminish.
Ways to cope with a misdiagnosis:
- Accept that your feelings are valid –The whirlwind of emotions you experience after receiving a cancer misdiagnosis isentirely understandable – and it’s important to acknowledge that these won’t go away overnight. Accepting this is the first step to moving forward. Some people may even find it helpful to write down their thoughts and feelings as an outlet for their emotions.
- Get legal advice – When you’re ready, you may decide that you want to pursue legal action. You could be entitled to make a medical negligence compensation claim to help cover any losses or upcoming costs you might face. You could be compensated for ascertainable losses, as well as for intangible factors such as pain or emotional suffering.
- Seek emotional support–Make sure you keep good, open communication with your loved onesduring this stressful time. They will want to do everything they can to support you so that you can lean on them. On top of this, you might find it helpful to join support groups so you can bond with those who are also going through the same diagnosis.
- Get professional guidance – While opening up to friends and family is an important part of your recovery, it can be beneficial to seek help from a mental health professional. Ideally, this will be someone who has experience with helping people get through something as serious as a cancer misdiagnosis. This way, you can receive constructive advice that will help you process everything that has happened.
- Ask your healthcare provider about what to expect – This will depend on your personal situation, however, knowing what to expect in terms of physical changes or upcoming treatments and procedures will give you chance to process and prepare for what’s ahead. This could give you the opportunity to speak with your employer and others about what you are about to go through, so that they can provide additional support.