Three years ago, Roger Mollison was preparing to get his affairs in order. He never would have believed that he'd still be around today -- not only alive but healthy and strong, enjoying life as a 66-year-old grandpa. Because three years ago, he went into the hospital when he was having trouble breathing. And doctors told him he was dying.
The hospital porter from Dundee, Scotland, was told that in a previous job as an insulation engineer he had been exposed to asbestos. As a result, he now suffered from mesothelioma, a form of lung cancer that is fatal in most cases. Only about 10 percent of patients with this form of cancer survive five years. Typically, mesothelioma patients survive anywhere from eight to 14 months after being diagnosed.
"I prepared to not be around for much longer and went through the awful feelings that go with that," said Mollison, who hoped only to survive long enough to attend his son's wedding.
But he wasn't willing to give up the fight. He quit his job and devoted himself to six months of grueling chemotherapy sessions. But in-between sessions, he was often out riding his bike, and his overall health never took a turn for the worse, leaving his doctors scratching their heads.
And then, when he began putting together a case against his former employers to try to win some financial help for his family after he passed away, his lawyers sent him to a different doctor for a second opinion. The new doctor gave him the surprise of his life -- namely, that his life was not coming to an end after all.
Roger Mollison did not have mesothelioma. He never did. Not today, and not three years ago. Even with a biopsy and lab tests, the original team of physicians got his diagnosis wrong.
Turns out, Mollison's breathing problems were connected to his earlier asbestos exposure, but they were not caused by cancer. Rather, he had a completely different asbestos-related condition that is not life-threatening.
"I've spent almost three years fearing I'd die any time and my family have suffered horribly," Mollison said. "I was shocked to the core when they told me the original lab results were wrong. It is wonderful to know that I am not dying but I have lost all confidence in doctors."
"We are hugely relieved Roger is not desperately ill but devastated about what we all went through," said his wife, Liz. "Surely these hospital tests should always be checked and rechecked."
Happily, even though he wrongly believed he was dying, Roger Mollison did attend his son's wedding. He also became a grandfather two more times in those three years. Now he has his lawyers working to get him some compensation for what doctors put him through by causing him to live for three years with a cancer that he never had.