A Stage Four Cancer Diagnosis after Years of Pain
- Paul Franks was just 67 when he was diagnosed with stage four cancer. Now, his family is lodging an official complaint after years of pain and a questionable scan was put down to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
- Advocating for your health is extremely important. You never know when speaking up about issues with your body can make a world of difference for health outcomes. One of our experts says that there should be a plan for what the doctor is going to do for you after your leave every appointment.
- Handling a stage four cancer diagnosis can seem like an insurmountable hill to climb, but it’s important to remember that finding a strong support system can make all the difference.
Paul Franks was 67 when he was diagnosed with stage four cancer in his liver, lymph nodes, lungs and spine. But Franks had been struggling long before he received his correct diagnosis. In fact, he started to complain of back pain in 2018. But doctors repeatedly claimed his pain was due to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) – a chronic inflammatory lung disease that causes obstructed airflow from the lungs.Read More
His pain worsened in October 2021. He even started feeling “pins and needles” in his legs, and doctors then considered the possibility of muscle pain – but still not cancer. By the time he got to December, Franks was faced with “agony in his chest, shoulder, round his back and down his side.” That’s when his wife, Maureen, got him a different doctor. This one took issue with the X-ray read by his previous doctor.
“In January, our [doctor] rang him up and said: ‘Paul I’m going through your file, I’m not liking what I’m seeing,'” Hill said. “He told him his scans were showing shadows.
“He said: ‘We need to rule out that it’s not cancer, but it’s not looking good, did you know about this?'”
Following another chest X-ray, he was immediately referred for a CT scan and blood tests. That’s when he was finally given his correct diagnosis.
“Doctors said it could be two, three, four, five months. And with that, I stood up, threw the piece of paper and punched a wall with temper,” Hill said. “From that day he just went downhill. There was no treatment by then.”
Franks passed away on February 15 – just two weeks after doctors finally figured out what was wrong. Now, his family is still grieving but also lodging a formal complaint against the doctor’s office he originally went to,
“It’s not going to bring him back but I just feel that he needs a bit of justice. It’s knocked me for six,” Hill said. “He was the best grandad ever to his granddaughter Faith who is five-years-old. They had the best bond ever, so much love between them and as they saw each other most days their days were always filled with cuddles and kisses and endless amounts of fun together.”
The Importance of Advocating for Your Health
Whether you are currently battling cancer or worried that you might have it, it’s always important to advocate for your health. Doctors can be wrong, and your voice should always be heard.
Cancer is an incredibly serious disease, and you have every right to insist that your doctors investigate any possible signs of the disease. And even if you simply have no idea what’s causing issues with your body, you should still seek professional help. You never know when speaking up about a seemingly unimportant issue can lead to a very important diagnosis – cancer or otherwise.
“Every appointment you leave as a patient, there should be a plan for what the doc is going to do for you, and if that doesn’t work, what the next plan is,” Dr. Zuri Murell, director of the Cedars-Sinai Colorectal Cancer Center, told SurvivorNet in a previous interview. “And I think that that’s totally fair. And me as a health professional – that’s what I do for all of my patients.”
In a previous interview with SurvivorNet, April Knowles explained how she became a breast cancer advocate after her doctor dismissed the lump in her breast as a side effect of her menstrual period.
Unfortunately, that dismissal was a mistake. Knowles was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer at age 39. She said the experience taught her the importance of listening to her body and speaking up when something doesn’t feel right.
“I wanted my doctor to like me,” she said. “I think women, especially young women, are really used to being dismissed by their doctors.”
Figuring out whether or not you actually have cancer based on possible symptoms is critical because early detection may help with treatment and outcomes. Seeking multiple opinions is one way to ensure you’re getting the care and attention you need.
One thing to remember is that not all doctors are in agreement. Recommendations for further testing or treatment options can vary, and sometimes it’s essential to talk with multiple medical professionals.
Handling a Stage Four Cancer Diagnosis
It’s important to try to find a strong support system when you’re faced with cancer – perhaps especially so when it comes to a stage four diagnosis meaning your cancer is more advanced and has spread from its original site. Some people, like Millie Torchia, can find that support from their children.
Torchia, a non-smoking mother to three young daughters and a stage four lung cancer warrior, previously shared with SurvivorNet how her daughters helped her through her battle with lung cancer after she decided to be up front with them about her disease and what it can lead to.
“I felt so relieved sharing,” Millie previously told SurvivorNet. “My 10-year-old was the one that understood the most. And I felt much more comfortable, because sometimes I would just sit at home and cry for no reason, but they would come and comfort me. They would come and give me a hug. My 10 year old would say, ‘Think happy thoughts, Mommy.’ My daughters are my strength.”
Like many survivors, Millie says cancer has changed her. Still, it’s her support system that has kept her fighting — no matter how horrible her diagnosis seems.
“This experience has taught me that there are many good people out there,” she said. “I try to live for this moment. I try to enjoy the moment that I am in. Everyone has been so supportive, I sometimes can’t believe it.”