British teen Bronte Doyne died just 16 months after doctors told her that surgery had prevented a rare liver cancer from taking her life. She was just 19 years old.
In the time before her death, Bronte was hysteric with fear. Online research lead her to believe that her cancer — fibrolamellar hepatocellular carcinoma — was more likely to recur than she was being told at the hospital. Doyne’s mother recalls pleading with doctors to take information from websites like the Fibrolamellar Cancer Foundation seriously, reported the Telegraph.
“It’s not just some pathetic website on Google, it’s been endorsed by the White House in publications, and was the only contact we had to get some awareness about this disease… But that information was dismissed here. I told the clinician that I knew what was happening to my daughter and something needed to be done but I was just told to ‘stop Googling’.”
Despite the Bronte’s pleas, physicians at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust ignored information that pointed to a high recurrence rate for the cancer. Once Doyne was finally taken seriously, the cancer had already significantly progressed. Bronte died 10 days after being admitted.
In the months leading up to Doyne’s death, she wrote extensive diary entries, text messages, and social media posts that her mother has compiled in hopes of preventing another young woman dying like Bronte. In the material that Doyne left behind, she complains of stomach pains and impatient doctors. In other messages, Bronte just expresses fear and confusion.
“I have cancer. I’m scared. Mum rang keyworker. Need to know what this is. He doesn’t know much. Help me.”
Partially because of Bronte’s documentation of her slow death, NUH is now admitting that they made an error in judgment when it came to giving Doyne the proper treatment. NUH medical director Dr. Stephen Fowlie expressed that although “all potential treatments” were explored, new measures would be taken to prevent similar situations in the future.
“Sadly, there were no further surgical, chemotherapy or radiotherapy treatment options for Bronte’s very aggressive cancer… We apologize that our communication with Bronte and her family fell short. We did not listen with sufficient attention. We should have referred Bronte to the expert support available from the Teenage Cancer Trust much sooner. We are sharing the learning from Bronte’s experience. Lorraine is assisting us to improve how we help patients.”
What changes do you think should come from Bronte Doyne’s death?
[Images via Facebook and Justin Sullivan / Getty Images]