Woman, 25, Learns She Was Misdiagnosed with Breast Cancer after Undergoing Double Mastectomy
Doctors told her she had triple-negative breast cancer after she experienced problems breastfeeding her son.
A woman has been left “unnecessarily traumatized” after she was misdiagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer that forced her to undergo a grueling amount of treatments and surgery.
Sarah Boyle is still struggling to come to grips with the fact that because of a “human error” she underwent an unnecessary double mastectomy and chemotherapy nearly three years ago, BBC News reported.
“Being told I had cancer was awful, but then to go through all of the treatment and surgery, to then be told it was unnecessary was traumatizing,” the Stoke-on-Trent, England native told the outlet.
The heartbreaking experience began at the end of 2016 when Boyle, then a 25-year-old mother of one, started having difficulty breastfeeding her son.
At the time, Boyle said she noticed her son Teddy, then six-months-old, appearing “very distressed” as she attempted to feed him from her right breast, according to the BBC.
After going to Royal Stoke Hospital in England, Boyle underwent a biopsy and scan. Doctors then diagnosed her with triple-negative breast cancer and immediately sent her for chemotherapy treatment.
Boyle eventually underwent a double mastectomy and later, reconstructive surgery, according to the outlet. She was also told that the aggressive cancer treatments could potentially harm her fertility.
It wasn’t until July 2017, however, that Boyle’s doctor told the mother of one she was misdiagnosed and did not actually have cancer, according to The Telegraph.
Boyle’s lawyers told the local newspaper that the mistake occurred because a biopsy sample had been incorrectly recorded.
In a statement to The Telegraph, a spokesperson from the University Hospital of North Midlands NHS Trust, the company that owns Royal Stokes Hospital, apologized and revealed that the misdiagnosis was due to a “human error.”
They also said that all cancer diagnoses are now checked by a second pathologist before a determination is made.
“A misdiagnosis of this kind is exceptionally rare and we understand how devastating this has been for Sarah and her family,” the rep said. “Ultimately the misreporting of the biopsy was a human error so as an extra safeguard all invasive cancer diagnoses are now reviewed by a second pathologist.”
Representatives at University Hospital of North Midlands NHS Trust did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
Since the misdiagnosis, Boyle, now 28, has welcomed another child, a son named Louis, with her husband Stephen, 31. The family of four is working on moving forward after the traumatic experience.
“The past few years have been incredibly difficult for me and my family,” Boyle told The Telegraph. “While I was delighted when I gave birth to Louis [born Dec. 2018], it was really heartbreaking when I couldn’t breastfeed him.”
Though she doesn’t currently have cancer, the mother of two also said she’s anxious about her future because of the treatment and surgery she has already endured.
“As if [being unable to breastfeed] wasn’t bad enough, I am now worried about the possibility of actually developing cancer in the future because of the type of implants I have,” she explained to the newspaper. “I am also worried about complications that I may face because of my chemotherapy.”
Boyle and her attorneys are now pursuing legal action against University Hospital of North Midlands NHS Trust, which has admitted liability, BBC News reports.
Sarah Sharples, an attorney from Irwin Mitchell Solicitors representing Boyle, said in a statement to The Telegraph that they hope the experience will prevent another similar situation from happening again.
“This is a truly shocking case in which a young mother has faced heartbreaking news and a grueling period of extensive treatment, only to be told that it was not necessary,” Sharples told the outlet. “The entire experience has had a huge impact on Sarah in many ways.”
“While we welcome that the NHS Trust has admitted to the clear failings, we are yet to hear if any improvements have been put in place to prevent something like this happening again,” Sharples continued.
“We are also deeply concerned following reports surrounding the type of implants Sarah has, with suspicions over their potential link to a rare form of cancer,” she added.
Sharples and the legal team at Irwin Mitchell Solicitors did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
To get our top stories delivered to your inbox, sign up for the Healthy Living newsletter