‘I’m dying after doctors missed cancer’
A DEVASTATED 39-year-old mother of three has spoken of the “betrayal” she feels by the Whittington Hospital and her local GP after they missed her terminal bone cancer despite NINE visits over the course of a year.
Fiona Zitouni has now been given a year and half to live after stage four cancer was finally diagnosed ten months after she says she first reported pains in her arm to her GP.
She will leave behind six-year-old Ahmed, Louis, 15, Leon, 17, and husband Fouzi.
Speaking exclusively to the Ham&High, Mrs Zitouni, of Ferme Park Road, Crouch End, said that in March 2008 she found a lump in her breast. Despite asking for a mastectomy, a lumpectomy was performed at the Whittington which was thought to be a success.
The cancer was only at stage one and she was given radiotherapy and a 98 per cent chance of being cancer free.
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But in October 2009 she visited her GP at Allenson House Medical Centre on Weston Park after getting pains in her right arm.
She was prescribed painkillers but the pain became so bad she rushed to the Whittington’s A&E in January last year where X-rays were carried out. She says she was told the pain was thought to be muscular.
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Mrs Zitouni visited her GP on five further occasions and had another set of X-rays at the Whittington. Painkillers, painful physiotherapy and even a collagen injection were prescribed.
“I was in so much pain I just wanted them to cut my arm off,” she said. “I kept asking at the hospital and at my GP surgery if it was possible that the cancer had come back in my arm but they kept saying it was muscular.
“In all that time not one of them referred me to see my oncologist.”
Finally, Mrs Zitouni’s regular check came around with an oncologist, a different doctor from the one who had performed the lumpectomy. He immediately sent her for a bone scan.
In July 2010 she went back to see her regular doctor who had no knowledge of the bone scan.
After he had examined her and given the all-clear Mrs Zitouni demanded the results of the scan. It was positive for cancer.
“I burst into floods of tears,” she said. “My sister was crying too. It was stage four and I knew that it would be terminal but he said it could be treated. He said, ‘Put it this way, you’ll be here in six months.’ And that was all I had to go on when I went home.”
Mrs Zitouni says that she has had no offers of counselling since the day of her diagnosis. Since July, she has been through five months of punishing chemotherapy – losing her hair and gaining 30 kilos due to powerful steroids.
“I feel betrayed by the GP. I feel let down by the A&E department at the Whittington hospital. I feel let down by the doctor at the hospital himself,” she said.
“I’m totally and utterly devastated – the thing I would want most in the world is to hold my first grandchild and that is probably not going to happen.”
Mrs Zitouni is planning memory boxes for her children and fears for their financial future as she does not have life insurance.
In the next year, she hopes to go on a glamorous trip to the ballet with her sister and take her son on his dream visit to Disneyland Paris before she becomes too ill.
“I want him to have some good memories with me because he is going to lose his mum,” she said.
The Whittington could not comment on the specifics of the case due to patient confidentiality and neither could the GP surgery.
A hospital spokeswoman said: “She says she will be writing a formal complaint to the chief executive.”