doctor looking stressed at computer
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Woman Who Doctors Dismissed Discovers She Had Ovarian Cancer All Along

Considering how much time, education, and dedication it takes to become a doctor, it's natural that most people would defer to what these experts have to tell them when they face a health problem.

However, the unfortunate fact is that even the most learned and skilled doctor is only human. And while we all know that humans make mistakes, it can be easy to forget that they also have their own biases and egos.

For that reason, it's sadly not uncommon for women and people of color to report facing dismissive attitudes from doctors when they've come to them with serious medical issues.

When this happens, not only does that problem go untreated, but it can give way to potentially life-threatening bodily responses like sepsis.

Unfortunately, this phenomenon would have painful, long-term consequences for one woman who is now hoping she can shine enough light on her situation to prevent others from having to go through something similar.

In 2019, veterinary nurse Hannah Catton's life went through some major changes.

woman smiling while on nature hike
GoFundMe | Luce Tissot and Shelby Dow

As she told Today, this was not only because she would move from Kent, England to Melbourne, Australia, but also because she started developing a persistent series of urinary tract infections.

Although doctors in both nations prescribed antibiotics, these infections kept returning and by the next year, they were accompanied by painful and irregular periods that also caused bloating, constipation, hot flashes, and diarrhea.

When Catton sought medical attention for these new problems, she was told her menstrual changes were the result of stress and to come back in three months.

woman sitting in bed while wincing in pain
Pexels | Andrea Piacquadio

And while she got a second opinion from another doctor, their diagnosis was essentially the same with the added instruction to lose weight.

This second aspect of her diagnosis would also come up in the last appointment she set before she found out what was actually wrong with her, which never made sense to her.

As she told the BBC, "She told me to lose weight which was hard to hear, and I definitely wasn't overweight... I'm pretty physically fit."

In retrospect, she also maintains that if that doctor had palpated her abdomen, she would have noticed something was amiss.

Finally, she found some clue as to her condition when she went to a gynecologist, who found a four-inch tumor near her uterus.

doctor looking stressed at computer
Getty Images | Moyo Studio

According to People, after a simple horseback riding trip suddenly put Catton in excruciating pain, she went to the emergency room at her boyfriend's insistence.

Although doctors there initially thought she had an ectopic pregnancy, they learned through a battery of ultrasounds, MRI and CT scans and blood tests that she actually had stage 1 ovarian cancer.

As for her sudden and debilitating pain, that was the result of her tumor rupturing.

After Catton underwent surgery to get this tumor removed, she quickly started the treatment process.

woman taking selfie with chemotherapy machine at hospital
GoFundMe | Luce Tissot and Shelby Dow

As she put it, "My wonderful oncologist wanted to hit me hard and fast with chemo."

Although she said it felt hard to tell her family back in England about her cancer from so far away, she's reportedly responding well to the chemotherapy she's receiving.

And once she shared her story, Catton received a "shocking" number of messages from other women who faced similarly dismissive attitudes from doctors.

In her words, "The stigma attached to complaining about period pain/issues and all the symptoms that includes needs to stop. So many lives are affected by it."

h/t: People