Woman feels like ‘ticking time bomb’ since brain cancer diagnosis

Christine Rossiter (37) has taken case against doctor alleging negligence in her treatment

Christine Rossiter, from Howth, Co Dublin, leaving the Four Courts on Wednesday after the opening day of her High Court action for damages. Photograph: Collins Courts.

Christine Rossiter, from Howth, Co Dublin, leaving the Four Courts on Wednesday after the opening day of her High Court action for damages. Photograph: Collins Courts.

 

A woman who has terminal cancer has taken a High Court action against a GP in which she claims there was negligence in her treatment.

Mr Justice Anothony Barr heard that Christine Rossiter (37) has only months to live after a tumour was found in her breast in 2016.

Ms Rossiter, a mother of two from Ceanchor Road, Howth, Co Dublin, told the court the cancer has since spread and she feels like a “ticking time bomb” since a tumour was found in her brain last year.

She has sued Dr Norma Donlon who was working at Hilltop Surgery, Station Road, Raheny, at the time of the 2014 consultation .

John Gordon SC, for Ms Rossiter, said his client contends that Dr Donlon did not examine her breasts. However, the claims are denied and the court heard a doctor’s note stated Ms Rossiter had ‘declined breast exam’.

Counsel said the visit lasted 12 minutes and Ms Rossiter would say she was made to feel she was a “little bit of a hypochondriac”.

Foolish

Mr Gordon said Ms Rossiter felt embarrassed and the doctor told her she had nothing to worry about given her age. He said Ms Rossiter left feeling a little foolish but very relieved after the 2014 visit.

In August 2016, Ms Rossiter felt a little lump on her left breast and went to another doctor who referred her for further examination. It turned out she had a cancerous tumor.

Counsel said the cancer found was Stage 2 and while it was significant, it was not life threatening but would require chemotherapy. Ms Rossiter sought further treatment and scans showed she had secondary cancer in various parts of her body.

“What was a dreadful situation unfolded as absolutely calamitous,” Mr Gordon said. “The secondaries in her lungs she was told ‘lit up like a Christmas tree’ on the scan. It was Stage 4 breast cancer and it was terminal.”

Prognosis

He said Ms Rossiter was devastated, was told she was unlikely to live for more than five years and that the cancer had since proven to be relentless . The prognosis at this stage was that she had a number of months to live, counsel said.

“The tragedy here is the missing of the opportunity to detect the problem in September 2014,” counsel added.

He said Ms Rossiter would say Dr Donlon did not ask to examine her breasts and his side will contend it is highly unlikely Ms Rossiter would have refused a breast exam if offered one.

“If the examination occurred it would have identified a tumour in the left breast. That sadly did not happen,” Mr Gordon said.

In the case, Ms Rossiter claims an alleged failure to perform an adequate examination of her arm pit and an alleged failure to recommend examination of her breast. It is further claimed there was a failure to adhere to the HSE National Breast Cancer GP referral guidelines and that Ms Rossiter was allegedly exposed to a risk of developing serious illness and injury. The claims are denied.

The case continues.