A desperate teen, 19-year-old Bronte Doyne, begged doctors to listen to her concerns as she thought she may be dying from a rare form of liver cancer called fibrolamellar hepatocellular carcinoma (FBC). However, instead of taking her concerns seriously, doctors told her to “stop googling” the rare cancer as her liver cancer had been fully removed and she was expected make a full recovery. Despite doctors claiming the cancer had been removed and would not return, Bronte knew something was wrong. In the days leading up to her death, the teen sent a number of desperate messages to friends and family noting that doctors wouldn’t listen to her concerns and she feared her cancer had returned. The teen was correct about her “Google diagnosis,” and the young woman would die as doctors continued to tell the young girl that it was all in her head. Now, Bronte’s mother is speaking out in hopes that her daughter’s story will encourage doctors to take patient concerns more seriously.
The Daily Mail reports that 19-year-old Bronte Doyne was diagnosed with liver cancer and had a portion of her liver removed as a treatment. Doctors told the teen that she was cured and that she was expected to make a full recovery. However, despite the doctors’ insistence that she was fine, Doyne knew something wasn’t right in her body. Therefore, the teen began Googling her symptoms and came across the Fibrolamellar Cancer Foundation. After reading more about the rare cancer, the teen felt that her doctors were wrong and that her cancer would return.
Bronte presented her research to doctors who immediately dismissed her concerns noting that she should “stop Googling” the cancer. Bronte’s mother, Lorraine Doyne, says that the research the family presented to the doctors was from a highly recognized organization, not just some random website. However, doctors refused to look at the information they had gathered. Instead, they stuck with their original prognosis that the teen would fully recover.
“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.’ “
After doctors refused to listen, the troubled teen sent a series of social media messages discussing her plight and kept a diary of her journey. Numerous entries note that doctors didn’t seem to take her concerns seriously and played off many of her symptoms as non-cancer related. In one diary entry, the teen notes that she was told her weight loss was due to being from a “skinny family.”
“Finally my 6 monthly MRI scan today, wish it had been sooner, I know something’s not right. I’m getting thinner by the second but like the doctor said I’m part of a skinny family! “
Another diary entry written just two weeks before Bronte would pass away from her aggressive cancer shows the teen’s frustration with having to tell her oncologist that she thought he was wrong.
“Words can’t explain yesterday, meeting my oncologist for the first time in a cold room she asked me how I was feeling!!! Told me I look better than she expected. Then said FHC is really rare in young people. I can’t begin to tell you how it feels to have to tell an oncologist they are wrong, it’s a young person’s cancer. I had to, I’m fed up of trusting them.”
The BBC notes that Lorraine has made the messages public in a bid to encourage doctors to take patient concerns more seriously. The doctors treating Bronte Doyne have responded to the claims that they did not adequately listen to the teen’s concerns regarding her cancer. The doctors say that they “did not listen with sufficient attention” and should have referred the teen to the Teenage Cancer Trust much sooner.
“We apologise 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.”
Do you think doctors should listen more closely to patients concerns, even if the information is from Google?
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