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Mother's warning after cancer was undiagnosed for three years

PUBLISHED: 15:59 07 January 2018 | UPDATED: 08:38 08 January 2018

Lisa Neal of Poringland, who has MS, warns others about insisting on the right care by the NHS, as only after several appointments was her cancer diagnosed. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Lisa Neal of Poringland, who has MS, warns others about insisting on the right care by the NHS, as only after several appointments was her cancer diagnosed. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Copyright: Archant 2018

"Don't be afraid to ask questions and look after yourself" is the warning from a mother whose cancer went undiagnosed for three years.

The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH). Picture: NNUHThe Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH). Picture: NNUH

Lisa Neal, 44, of Shotesham Road in Poringland, first visited her GP after finding a lump in 2014 but it wasn’t until 2017 that she was eventually given a diagnosis.

“Once they discovered it was cancer the staff at [Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital] were wonderful,” said Mrs Neal.

“However I had to keep pushing for everything and if I hadn’t I would still be sitting here.”

Mrs Neal, who is a district councillor for her home ward of Poringland and the Framlinghams, was initially told she had a sebaceous cyst which did not require removing.

However, after a couple of years the lump had grown from the size of a pea to a 50 pence piece.

She said: “They thought I was being vain by wanting it removed but it was uncomfortable, though I had no symptoms.

“When they finally did a biopsy I had to chase them for the results and then I was told it was cancer which had spread to my lymph nodes.”

Mrs Neal had surgery within weeks of discovering her diagnosis and has since undergone chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

A spokesperson at NNUH said: “Two of our clinical specialists thoroughly investigated the complaint made by Mrs Neal in April 2017 and explained that this cancer was exceptionally rare with medical literature showing only 50 or so known cases.

“This very rare cancer has the clinical appearance of a completely benign and extremely common condition; sebaceous cyst.

“Sebaceous cysts are not routinely removed as long as they are small and not particularly symptomatic.

“This led to an unavoidable delay in diagnosis.”

Due to her existing multiple sclerosis, Mrs Neal has also been left with limited mobility following treatment, which has constrained her to a wheelchair when leaving the house.

She said: “It can be hard because they make you feel like a pain but if you’re not happy keep pushing it until you get results, because only you know your own body and when something isn’t right with your health.”

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