September 16, 2008
Dying Mum is Suing Health Trust for the ‘Terrible Mistake’ That Said Her Mole Was Not Cancerous
By Madeleine Brindley Health Editor
A YOUNG mother is dying from skin cancer after she was wrongly given the all-clear by doctors.
The mother-of-two had a mole removed three years ago and was told it was not cancerous. But when she began to feel ill new tests revealed she had malignant melanoma.
The disease has now spread into her bones.
Ms Jones, who hopes to see her children Tyler, six, and Lowis, three, open their Christmas presents this year, said: "I will never see them grow up - their first day at comprehensive school, their first boyfriends and girlfriends.
"Because of a basic medical mistake I am dying. I am going to miss it all. It's just too unbearable to think about.
"I am living day-to-day - I just don't know how long I've got.
"But it is too late for me to have treatment because the cancer has spread to my bones.
"I am absolutely terrified to go to sleep in case I don't wake up."
She added: "I am dying because someone made a terrible mistake.
"Now my children will grow up without their mum.
"It's the worst feeling in the world knowing I won't be here for them."
Ms Jones, who lives with partner Chris Davies, 29, in Treherbert, had a mole removed shortly after Lowis was born in 2005.
Doctors at the Royal Glamorgan Hospital in Llantrisant told her the mole was harmless, after it was sent away for a biopsy.
Ms Jones said: "I'd just had our second baby and I was just so relieved that it wasn't cancer.
I had everything in the world to live for.
"But I didn't feel well and started losing weight and passing out."
Her two stone weight loss was initially attributed to anorexia, but a friend, whose mother had just died from cancer, urged her to get a second opinion.
A doctor from the hospital later told her about the misdiagnosis.
Ms Jones said: "He told me there had been a terrible mistake.
The mole I'd had removed in 2005 had been cancerous all along.
"I was screaming and crying and told them they had ruined my life. But it's too late for me, there's nothing anyone can do. I'm determined to enjoy every minute I have left but it's hard.
"It's one thing knowing you are dying of cancer - but it is hard not to be bitter when it could so easily have been stopped from spreading if the test on the mole had been done properly."
A letter from consultant Dr Ian Black to Ms Jones' GP confirmed the blunder. It said: "I have informed her Tara Jones that a review of the histology from a skin biopsy taken in 2005 has revealed a reporting error.
"A review of the histological slides made in 2005 has shown that these did indeed reveal a malignant melanoma.
"At the time, this was reported as a benign lesion. Tara was obviously initially very shocked and angry.
"A full investigation has taken place within the trust and this does appear to be an isolated case."
Mr Davies, who has quit his job as a building contractor to care for Ms Jones and their children, said: "It is beyond belief the way Tara has been treated. I love her so much and I am just staying strong for her and our kids.
"A doctor's mistake has completely shattered my family."
The family has appointed Stephen Webber, of Hugh James Solicitors, to pursue a medical negligence case against Cwm Taf NHS Trust, which runs the Royal Glamorgan Hospital.
A statement from the trust said: "We are able to confirm the trust's involvement in a claim in the delay of diagnosis of cancer.
"But unfortunately the trust is bound by constraints of confidentiality and cannot comment further at this time.
How a malignant melanoma develops
Malignant melanoma is the most serious form of skin cancer and usually starts in a mole or in normal-looking skin.
Almost 500 people in Wales were diagnosed with the disease in 2006, up 11% on 2002.
Melanoma develops from cells in the skin known as melanocytes, which give the skin its colour.
In melanoma, the melanocytes start to grow and divide more quickly than usual and start to spread into the surrounding surface layers of skin.
If the melanoma is found at this early stage, it can be removed with surgery.
If it is not removed, the cells can begin to grow down into the deeper layers of the skin, where they can get into the blood vessels or lymph channels and travel to other parts of the body.
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