Caters Jeannine Harvey with her son Jack (left) and Frankie (right)
A mother-of-four died from cervical cancer after doctors misdiagnosed her malignant tumour 30 times, her devastated family
Jeannine Harvey, 33, was in so much pain that she couldn't get out of bed without assistance – buit doctors put her condition down to 'anxiety' following a suspected torn ligament.
She was eventually diagnosed with cancer just three months before she died in July. Jeannine's family are taking legal action against Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust.
Her sisters Eleanor Sherrington and Marie Donovan claim Jeannine's death may have been prevented with an earlier diagnosis. Her children Paul, 16, Jack, 12, Frankie, five, and Ella, two, are grieving for their mother.
Jeannine, an accountancy student from Rowley Regis in the West Midlands, first complained about pain in her stomach and left leg in December last year.
After a blood test for ovarian cancer came back elevated, her GP arranged for ultrasound scans.
These revealed a mass about 4cm wide on the left side of her pelvic area. Despite this, the family claim medics at Birmingham City Hospital told her it was just nerve pain.
Two months later she was told the mass had gone and she did not have cancer. It was suggested she had a cyst which had burst and Jeannine was referred back to her GP for physiotherapy, who suggested the pain could have been a problem with her back.
But over the next few days she collapsed several times and was rushed to A & E at Sandwell Hospital - where she was told she had a possible torn ligament. Another MRI scan diagnosed protruding discs which would require more physiotherapy.
Marie, 34, said:
No one listened to us and the doctors constantly patronised us by saying it was Jeannine's anxiety making her pain worse.
To prove the agony Jeannine was going through, the family secretly filmed her on her hospital bed crying out in pain 'I'm dying'.
Finally in April, her GP arranged for her to be admitted to the Medical Assessment Unit at Birmingham City Hospital.
It was only then that a nurse, upon seeing her condition and medication, assumed she was a cancer patient and she was finally diagnosed with sarcoma a few days later. These are rare cancers that develop in the supporting or connective tissues of the body such as muscle, bone, nerves, cartilage, blood vessels and fat.
But her family say even this diagnosis turned out to be incorrect. In June, medics realised it was actually uterine cancer of the cervix that Jeannine was suffering from. The mass detected in early January had now grown up to 8cm and was the real root cause of her illness and pain over the previous months.
Further delays in confirming the diagnosis meant that chemotherapy wasn't scheduled to begin until June 2012. By the time Ms Harvey began the treatment, the tumour had become infected and shattered her pelvic bone.
She was admitted to a hospice on July 13 and died 10 days later, leaving behind her four children, the youngest aged only two, and three sisters.
Marie told her local paper: "The whole family are still in shock - the treatment Jeannine received was like something out of the dark ages.
My beautiful sister was in complete agony, she was crippled with pain, but no one listened to her. She was screaming out in pain day and night, telling us that she felt like someone was constantly stabbing her between her legs.
"She barely slept for six months, the pain was so bad. It took two of us to lift her into the car to take her to hospital appointments, but no one there seemed to be able to see how bad she was."
Jill Davies, a medical negligence lawyer with Shoosmiths, representing the family said: "This is one of the most tragic and distressing cases I have ever seen and I believe it has national implications for the diagnosis and timely treatment of cancer.
"Even if Ms Harvey's life could not have been saved, with an earlier correct diagnosis she could have avoided months of intractable pain. She had more than 30 visits and appointments with three major hospitals."
Jessamy Kinghorn, of Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust, said: "We are extremely sorry for any distress caused to the family. We can understand the family's need for answers and an internal investigation has already been held into Jeannine's care."
• Jeannine's family have now set up a website: Justice4Jeannine.com
More on Parentdish:
Toddler died from meningitis after she was misdiagnosed with swine flu
Mum calls for smear tests for under 20s after her daughter dies from cervical cancer
- Mum-to-be refuses lung cancer operation to save unborn baby
Daniella Jackson was advised to abort her baby at five months when doctors <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2012/05/15/mum-to-be-refuses-lung-cancer-operation-to-save-unborn-baby/" target="_blank">found a cancerous tumour growing in her lung</a>. Doctors refused to operate while she was pregnant, and advised her to terminate her pregnancy to save her own life. But abortion was never an option for brave Daniella, and she was determined to wait until she gave birth to start treatment. Her daughter, Rennae was born four weeks prematurely, but fit and healthy, weighing 6lb, 3oz. A month later, the new mum underwent a four hour operation to cut out the tumour and remove half of her lung. She is now on her way to full recovery. </p>
- Mum expecting twins refused to consider abortion after being told she had breast cancer
Mum-to-be Zoila Leiva was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was four and a half months pregnant with twins. <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2012/02/13/mum-expecting-twins-refused-to-consider-abortion-after-being-told-she-had-breast-cancer-zoila-leiva/" target="_blank">She refused an abortion</a> and went on to have two healthy boys, Julian and Joel. She had four rounds of chemotherapy over 12 weeks, and by the time she was ready to give birth at the recommended 32 weeks, the tumour had shrunk to almost nothing.</p>
- Mum of healthy girl advised to abort her baby three times after doctor misread her scan
A doctor told Carrie Chilvers, 28, from Colchester, there was only a one in five chance that her baby would survive when she had her three-month scan at Colchester General Hospital, Essex. She was told even if her baby did survive, he or she would have Down's syndrome, Turner's syndrome or a chromosome deficiency. Carrie refused to give up on her unborn child but had to endure five weeks of anxiety as she refused to have an immediate termination without a second opinion. <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2012/07/13/mum-of-healthy-girl-was-advised-to-abort-her-baby-three-times-after-scan-results-misread/" target="_blank">She was then told the doctor had misread her scan</a> and gave birth to a healthy baby girl, Elizabeth, in January. The hospital dismissed the clinician who misread the scan.</p>
- Miracle baby survived six months of chemotherapy in his mum's womb after she refused to abort him
Stephanie Papworth was just 12 weeks pregnant when she was diagnosed with <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/tag/breast+cancer/" target="_blank">breast cancer</a>. Doctors <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/pregnancy-and-birth/the-miracle-baby-who-survived-six-months-of-chemotherapy-in-his-mother-womb-after-she-refused-abortion/" target="_blank">offered to terminate the baby </a>as they didn't think he would be able to survive the aggressive treatment. But Stephanie was determined to give her baby a fighting chance - and refused the termination. Baby Gabriel was born healthy and Stephanie has now been given the all-clear following a year of treatment. </p>
- Cancer-battle mum refused to abort her unborn child
Mum Lyndsey Crowder had already lost three babies when she fell pregnant with her daughter, Sidney Rose. Went she was told she had <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2012/08/02/cancer-battle-mum-refused-to-abort-her-unborn-child/" target="_blank">Hodgkin's Lymphoma when she was in the early stages of her pregnancy</a>, doctors advised a termination. But the brave mum refused to give up on her daughter, and went through eight rounds of chemotherapy before Sidney Rose was safely delivered by Caesarean at 34 weeks. Lyndsey has now been in remission for 30 months and Sidney Rose is everything a parent could wish for.</p>
- Doctors said baby's tumour was a birth mark
When her daughter Isabel was born with a <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2012/07/15/doctors-insisted-my-baby-had-a-birthmark-but-it-was-a-tumour/" target="_blank">purple mark on the side of her face</a>, Yvonne Bull was told it was simply a <a href="http://www.bupa.co.uk/individuals/health-information/directory/b/birthmarks" target="_blank">strawberry birth mark</a> and 'nothing to worry' about. But the mark - originally the size of a golf ball on the left hand side of Isabel's face - trebled in size within a month and covered her left ear. As the mark began to grow and bleed, Yvonne, a nurse herself and mother-of-four, repeatedly took Isabel back to hospital but doctors only prescribed medication to shrink birthmarks. After demanding more tests, Yvonne and her partner Anthony were told Isabel had am extremely rare <a href="http://www.sarcoma.org.uk/" target="_blank">sarcoma tumour</a> and the cancer had spread to her bone marrow. She went through months of chemotherapy and is now on the road to recovery, all thanks to her mum and dad. </p>
- Baby baptised at birth and given hours to live makes miracle recovery
Baby Logan was <a href="http://www.parentdish.co.uk/2012/07/11/baby-baptised-at-birth-and-given-hours-to-live-makes-miracle-recovery/" target="_blank">baptised at birth</a> after doctors gave her zero chance of survival at birth. Her mum and dad, Kellie and Callum, refused to give up on their little girl, and four months on, Logan has confounded medical opinion and her parents believe she will live a normal life.</p>