AFTER enduring almost two years of pain, a young Opotiki woman has had a 4.4 kilogram growth removed from her stomach.
Keahnee Tioke believes the medications she was prescribed by various Eastern Bay doctors for the pain may have fed the growth, previously misdiagnosed as everything from lupus to constipation.
On being alerted to her case last week, the Bay of Plenty District Health Board has launched a full investigation.
In 2015, a cyst was found on the 24-year-old’s left ovary, but she said there was no indication of cancerous cells or a tumour at the time so a doctor in Whakatane drained the cyst rather than removing it.
Following the procedure, she said she was in constant pain and wanted an ultrasound done to determine the cause.
She visited doctors at GP practices in Opotiki, Kawerau and Whakatane who diagnosed her stomach pain as various conditions including lupus, constipation, fat nodes and celiac disease, for which she was prescribed medications.
These diagnoses came despite her looking nine months pregnant.
Her suffering came to a head on January 25 when she was rushed from Opotiki to Whakatane Hospital by ambulance, only to be released again three hours later.
She said she had again pushed for an ultrasound to be done but was told the hospital did not have the equipment to do a proper examination, there and then.
The hospital phoned her back the following day, Thursday, to say the earliest they could get her in for a CT scan and ultrasound was the next day at 1.15pm.
“Within minutes of the scan, last Friday, everyone leaped into action. It was all on like Donkey Kong,” she said.
The following morning Miss Tioke underwent surgery and a mass, measuring 30 centimetres in diameter and weighing 4.4kg, was removed from her stomach.
She said it was not officially considered a tumour until tests proved it such, but she was expecting to receive the test results soon.
Miss Tioke does not lay blame with anyone for what has happened to her but wants to share her story as widely as possible to ensure others are not left in a similar situation.
“I just want people to know after two years of pushing and pushing, crying and frustrations, no-one believed me. They diagnosed me so wrong and for so long, I could have been dead,” she said.
She encourages others, if they feel there is something wrong with the diagnosis or treatment they are receiving from medical professionals, to push for what they need.
And she believes young women, like herself, know their bodies better than anyone although for many, including her, a lack of money can be inhibiting.
Her mother, Paula Grant, believes the duty of care for her daughter was missing and she should have been given an ultrasound much earlier to accurately diagnose what was wrong.
She said duty of care was paramount for all medical professionals, even if a case like her daughter’s appeared to be, on the surface, one of “the boy that cried wolf” with her continually returning and complaining of pain.
“It is vital for them to stop and think about their duty of care over a particular individual’s circumstances and that they are not viewed as just another person on the appointment book.”
The pain her daughter has had to endure saddens her. “My girl was carrying that [growth] for two years and was still working. It just makes me want to cry.”
Miss Tioke, who was living in Perth with her mother but moved to Opotiki three years ago, works at EastPack in the orchards and is well-known as a high-energy individual in the community.
BOPDHB general manager governance and quality, Gail Bingham, said the matter was being treated very seriously. “A full investigation will be undertaken into it however, because of patient privacy rules, we need the patient’s consent to proceed with this. At the time of writing, that consent has not been received.”
Miss Tioke could not be contacted to obtain this authorisation before the Beacon's press time.