This year, according to Ovarian Cancer Canada, 730 women in Quebec will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Maureen Dore-Parent is one of them.
The 57-year-old nurse felt like something was wrong this summer, in late August, when she started bleeding.
But after an initial appointment, where the doctor felt a mass in her abdomen, Dore-Parent said she had to fight to get a diagnosis and treatment.
“I was able to see a doctor in three days. It’s good,” she said. “And then I had my ultrasound three days later. It’s good. And then I waited. And I waited. And I waited .
Like many Quebecers, Dore-Parent does not have a general practitioner.
Nurse practitioners to the rescue
The doctor at the clinic she visited ordered blood tests, an ultrasound and a referral to a gynecologist within 28 days.
Rather than wait for her results, Dore-Parent decided to access her files at work.
“I checked my records and the ultrasound,” she said. “What it showed was a very, very large mass, like the size of a mango or a grapefruit, on one ovary and another on the other ovary, the size of a lime.”
Based on the ultrasound, the radiologist recommended follow-up with a gynecologic oncologist, an MRI of the tumors and blood tests to look for tumor markers.
It was at this point that Dore-Parent called the radiology clinic, but being unable to write references, they were unable to help her.
They suggested she go to the emergency room, but Dore-Parent felt she didn’t need to be there.
“I just needed to see a gynecologist,” she says. “So I called the clinic again and they said, ‘Well, just wait your 28 days.’”
Instead, Dore-Parent took matters into his own hands.
“I’m not that patient,” she said, adding that she ultimately decided to go to the emergency room where one of her friends works.
Blood tests and a CT scan of her abdomen showed it was likely ovarian cancer.
“The tumor markers were very high,” Dore-Parent said of the blood tests. “They must have been between zero and 35 and there were 1,255. You don’t have to be a nurse or a doctor to know that’s not right.
She was able to consult a gynecologist and was referred to the MUHC hospital where she was seen 10 days later.
Then things finally started to move.
Dore-Parent underwent surgery and is expected to begin chemotherapy in the coming weeks.
Meanwhile, 72 days later, she finally received a call to make an appointment with a gynecologist based on the recommendations from the initial consultation.
These kinds of delays can mean the difference between life and death and that’s why Dore-Parent is speaking out.
Because of her experience as a nurse, Dore-Parent said she knows how to pressure and has connections that others don’t have. Other people, who don’t know to press, would still wait for answers and fall through the cracks, she said.
“It makes me very angry because I have the ability to get things checked and stamp my foot, but other people don’t.”
According to Tania Vrionis, executive director of Ovarian Cancer Canada, the Dore-Parent story is all too common.
A recent study by the organization shows the province has the highest rate of ovarian cancer patients going to emergency rooms for emergency care.
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“At this point, you most likely have stage 3 or 4 cancer because your symptoms have escalated to the point where you’re going to the emergency room,” Vrionis said, adding that ovarian cancer is the deadliest of female cancers.
“The reality is that 3,100 Canadian women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year. And as things stand, more than half of them will not live five years.”
World Ovarian Cancer Day
While the organization works to raise awareness about the disease, its symptoms and the importance of early detection, Vrionis said there is still much work to be done.
Ovarian cancer symptoms like bloating, abdominal pain, feeling full quickly, or changes in bowel movements or bowel movements are reminiscent of symptoms women experience in daily life.
“It’s really hard to help other people understand that they shouldn’t be laid off,” Vrionis said.
Her advice to women is to trust themselves and their instincts, know their body and document their symptoms and not take no for an answer.
“Evidence matters,” she said, adding that Ovarian Cancer Canada has developed several tools in this regard to help women talk to their doctors and advocate for themselves.
Dore-Parent, for his part, asks the government to improve the current health system.
“It’s so broken,” she said.
In an email to Global News, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Health said that while it could not comment on specific cases, its mandate was clear.
“Surgical interventions and urgent treatments must be given priority,” wrote Marie-Claude Lacasse in French. “Moreover, doctors have an ethical obligation regarding the monitoring of their patients. »
Lacasse indicated that the patient can file a complaint with the complaints commissioner and/or the College of Physicians if she believes that there has been a breach in her file.
— with files from Gloria Henriquez and Kalina Laframboise of Global News
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