Childrearing

They Told Me My Child Might Have Cancer And It Nearly Killed Me

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But the thing was that after our initial freakout about what we were testing for, my husband and I were fairly confident that our daughter was fine. You know how you do that thing where you spend 15 minutes on WebMD to look up some symptom and you end up wondering if you have a fatal brain tumor? Well, this was the opposite. Our daughter had literally no symptoms other the swollen node.

I won’t bore you with the tales of the battery of tests she went through but after a few weeks of drama, we met with a pediatric surgeon who put an end to the madness. He reviewed the tests and looked over our daughter and explained to us that she was fine. He told us that there are thousands of reasons why nodes might become swollen and that it can take a very long time for them to return to their more appropriate size. He said that the presence of swollen nodes alone was no reason to react so dramatically and that it was clear from her general health that she would be fine. To be sure, we have to go back in six months for review, but my husband and I aren’t worried.

We are worried, however, about a couple of things. One is that the bedside manner of countless medical professionals could use serious improvement. It may be daily work for you to deal with sick children, but at no point in the process did any medical professional reassure us about our daughter’s condition — and frequently they did the opposite. That’s just inappropriate, whether or not our daughter was sick.

The other thing is that we kind of realize that the dramatic overreaction and check for cancer probably had something to do with how litigious things are in the States. These doctors are so worried about being sued and losing their practice that they had to have our daughter checked for cancer even though even a halfway good pediatrician would have known she was fine and didn’t need expensive tests. It’s worth thinking about some of the waste, inefficiency and unintended consequences of medical malpractice suits.

But the good news is that our daughter is fine and we learned a bit about navigating the medical community.

(Photo: Sherrie Smith/Shutterstock)

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