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Mum underwent chemo for terminal cancer — only to find she wasn’t sick

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Lisa was diagnosed with a rare form of blood vessel cancer (Picture: Kennedy News/ Lisa Monk)

A mum-of-two has been left reeling after being given just 15 months to live and enduring aggressive chemotherapy, only to discover she didn’t actually have cancer at all.

Lisa Monk, 39, claims she was diagnosed with angiosarcoma, a rare form of blood vessel cancer, in early 2023 after a mass was found on her spleen.

She’d been experiencing stomach pains and a scan revealed the mass, as well as kidney stones. And after several tests, doctors confirmed her worst fears.

‘When the doctor told me it was cancer I went into shock. The diagnosis was horrible and [they] told me it was terminal,’ recalls Lisa, a higher education worker. 

‘I had to go home and tell my two kids. I didn’t tell them at this point that it was terminal or that I only had 15 months, I just told them it was bad but I was going to try to fight it.’

Understandably, the news was hard on her children, as well as her husband and Lisa struggled to wrap her head around having to say goodbye to them.

Lisa began writing letters to say goodbye to her children (Picture: Kennedy News/Lisa Monk)

The mum, from College Station, Texas, began writing letters for them all with messages for the future — thinking of the weddings she would miss, and the grandchildren she would never meet.

She was then referred to a cancer hospital and by March she had started her first round of chemotherapy. The treatment was incredibly hard on the mum, who lost all her hair, was left with ‘silvery skin’, and couldn’t stop vomiting. 

However, just a few weeks after suffering through her second round of chemo, Lisa discovered that it had all been for nothing. Her pathology report had been wrong — she didn’t have cancer at all. 

‘I saw the nurse practitioner first and she just asked me about my symptoms and she was scrolling on the computer while she was talking to me. All of sudden she just stops talking and has this look on her face.

‘She turned to me and looked completely horrified and told me she needed to get the doctor and then ran out of the room,’ Lisa said.

The mum before her diagnosis (Picture: Kennedy News/Lisa Monk)

‘She left me alone for about 15 minutes and the doctor came back in. He said a lot of medical lingo to me and then told me I didn’t have cancer.

‘I was confused as they were acting like it was a bad thing. I just thought [if I didn’t have cancer] it meant the chemotherapy was working.

‘The doctor then told me that I never had cancer. [At that moment] I looked like I had cancer and I felt like I had cancer as I was vomiting, I was sick and my skin was silvery because of the chemotherapy.

‘The doctor then congratulated me, which really bothered me. At the time I was in shock but now I feel the more appropriate response would be “I’m sorry”.’

As well as the original pathology tests, the hospital had done their own tests on her spleen, which had found no evidence of cancer.

Lisa requested a copy of the reports and after looking through it all, she soon became furious.

Lisa lost her hair after enduring two rounds of aggressive chemo (Picture: Kennedy News/Lisa Monk)

‘When I got home, I listened back to the recording of my doctor’s appointment as I was able to record them in case I missed any information and it dawned on me about the date they got their [the hospital] pathology report back. I looked at it and it was dated a month prior to my appointment.

‘I had had chemotherapy during this time and they could have told me a month earlier and I would have avoided the second round of chemotherapy if they had bothered to read their own pathology report.

‘In the end they determined that my spleen was going to rupture which is why it had the mass on it. It was just blood vessel activity and no cancer in it.’

The mum’s chemotherapy was stopped immediately after this, and despite being relieved that she isn’t sick, a year on Lisa is still ‘angry’ about what she and her family were put through.

She’s angry her family was put through such an ordeal. (Picture: Kennedy News/Lisa Monk)

‘Financially we’re still paying medical bills. Cancer is expensive and I couldn’t get any of my bills dismissed,’ she explains.

‘And there’s the emotional trauma too. It was a very dark time. I was writing goodbye letters and letters to the grandchildren I would never meet.’

She added: ‘A year on from what happened to me, I’m angry. They ruined my health and my insides are cooked.

‘I grieve for my kids for having to even go through something like this in their lives where they thought they were going to lose their mum. I can’t take this away from them.

‘I know on paper it only looks like a few months of my life but it felt like a lifetime.’

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