Posted on Oct 13, 2019
“I was thousands of miles away from my home country and completely confused by my results. I had no idea if this meant I had cancer... if I should jump on the next flight home. It was absolutely frightening.”
A US native, Lindsey Murff had been living abroad for several years. Due for her annual mammogram, she got her screening done but was met with confusing results. Nervous, anxious, and far from home Lindsey reached out to DocPanel for a second opinion. Here is her story.
I have a history of breast cancer in my family - the closest being my mother. She had breast cancer four times. The first time she was diagnosed, I was in second grade. She had to have a mastectomy, but fortunately, she responded to treatment and survived. A few years later, it returned. The cancer was more advanced this time, so she had to have radiation. The two times after that, she had to have chemotherapy. And, in between all that, she had to have a hysterectomy. I’ve seen the devastation of breast cancer. So I know the importance of getting screened.
Most of the women in my family who developed breast cancer did so after the age of 40. Now that I’m 41, my annual screenings have become an even more crucial part of my health care routine. However, I’ve been living abroad for a few years now, and finding places to get screened is not always easy or convenient.
Last year a friend of mine in Kazakhstan, where I was living at the time, was diagnosed with breast cancer. Finding a place to get screened outside the country is an adventure in and of itself, but my friend helped urge me to get it done.
When I got my results back, about a week later, the entire report was in Cyrillic. So I got in touch with friends who spoke fluent Russian to help me translate the letter. I noticed that on my results, there was something that said BI-RADS 2. Completely clueless as to what BI-RADS even means I, of course, turn to Google. But that only makes me more concerned. So by now, I’m starting to panic. I’m thinking - is this heading in a scary direction? Is this cancer? Is there something going on? I’m freaking out.
That’s when I started searching for other ways to get answers. Thankfully, I came across DocPanel’s website and immediately sent my results to them for a second opinion. Within just 24 hours, I had my second opinion results.
In my new report, the radiologist thoroughly explained what he saw. He said that, for lack of a better word, I had lumpy breasts. He told me the reason the other radiologist indicated a BI-RADS 2 was an ‘abnormal benign finding.’ He reassured me that this was nothing to be worried about.
The second opinion instantly put my mind at ease. I was beyond relieved to know that it wasn’t an emergency.. that I didn’t need to jump on a plane to go back to America!
The experience was invaluable. I submitted my second opinion request before going to bed - which was daytime in America. By the morning, I had my interpretation waiting for me.
A few days later, the doctor even followed up with me to see if I had any questions or concerns. When you’re sitting with important information like that - questions are never instant. It usually takes a couple of days to come up with them. So the fact that the radiologist allowed me time to process, and then followed up personally, was truly special.
Seeing what my mom went through, I can’t stress the importance of breast screening enough. Ladies, please get your scans! And not only that but make sure you get your scans interpreted by a radiologist you feel comfortable with and trust. I’ve lived in China and Kazakhstan, and in both places, the doctors are trained differently. So it comes down to trust. What may alarm a doctor in one country may not necessarily be alarming in another.
My biggest advice is to take advantage of the resources you have. If you need an X-ray MRI or mammogram in another country, get your scans done there and have them read through DocPanel. This can save you from booking a ticket home. (And it might even be easier and cheaper to get your scans done in some countries.)
Nothing is more unsettling than feeling uncertain about your health. Wondering if something could potentially be life-threatening - it can easily throw you into a state of panic. I feel a lot more comfortable living abroad knowing that, through DocPanel, I have access to care I can trust.