When life stopped: doctors did not notice cervical cancer twice, and now Netta Brandt may not live to see her 40th birthday

Twice, the specialists of a private clinic could not detect a cancerous tumor in the analyzes. Now, 36-year-old Netta Brandt goes to therapy as if to work and plans to die.

Netta Brandt has a 60 percent chance of surviving by the end of this year. The probability to live in 2025 is already 20 percent, and to stay alive in 2030 is only 10 percent.

Such data, based on statistics, was taken by a woman from a special medical manual. There she looked for information about cervical cancer. Seeing these sad numbers, Netta stopped googling her illness.

– I realized that I could hardly survive it.

Officially, the doctors did not give her any prediction about life expectancy, but she herself did not I really wanted to know him.

– I try to lead a busy life and live every day.

Unforgivable mistake

36-year-old Netta Brandt learned of her diagnosis – cervical cancer – in the spring of 2020. At that time, the tumor had already grown to a sufficiently large size, so it was not an early stage.

– I have been living with the knowledge of the disease for 14 months. But no one knows how many years the tumor developed in me.

When Netta was 30 years old, she had a cytological smear, also known as a Pap smear. This is a test that can detect precancerous or cancerous cells in the vagina and cervix. Then the test was negative.

In August 2019, a woman consulted a gynecologist at the Mehiläinen Clinic due to vaginal bleeding. Pap smear showed a negative result, and the gynecologist found no abnormalities.

Despite this, the bleeding continued, and Netta again went to the gynecologist last spring. The smear was again negative and the gynecologist found no cause for concern.

A month later, the bleeding was so profuse that she was sent from Mehiläinen to the admission department of the University Hospital of Oulu. They immediately diagnosed cancer.

– I asked if the tumor could have developed in a month. I was told no.

According to the Patient Insurance Center, cervical cancer could have been detected as early as August 2019. This means that the gynecologist and the pathologist made the same mistake twice, which caused the treatment to start eight months later.

– Three pathologists found cancer cells in my samples, and in Mehiläinen not found. I understand that you can make a mistake once, but twice … This is just negligence.

A specialist in the search for pathological changes can be compared to the pilot of an aircraft. Neither one nor the other has the right to make a mistake, because people’s lives are at stake.

Netta decided to share her story publicly to warn those who might be in a similar situation. She even began to blog about how to live with her diagnosis.

– I trusted the doctors and did not understand the importance of protecting my rights and demanding more research.

According to the head of the department Research of the Cancer Registry Ahti Anttila, it is extremely rare for cervical cancer to be missed twice in tests. He says that shouldn’t happen in Finland. The register was created in 1952 to collect data on all cancer cases in Finland for medical and statistical research of various tumors.

Only bad news

After the detection of cancer, Nette immediately began to carry out radiation and chemotherapy. And all the same, the tumor grew. The first metastases were found on ultrasound in the rib bone. The cancer cells cracked the bone and made the rib brittle.

But even then, Netta did not give up hope. These were only the first metastases with which to live. But it soon became clear that it would not be possible to cure the cancer.

– When metastases were found, doctors began to talk not about curing, but about containing the disease. In January, I asked them directly, and they admitted that my tumor was incurable.

And then the bad news came one after another. In April, metastases were already in three ribs, in six vertebrae and in the lungs.

– When I heard that the tumor had reached the lungs, I was scared. After that, I stopped believing that I would live to see my 40th birthday.

Netta is angry with the doctors who did not diagnose her cancer on time. Because of their mistake, the tumor to be treated is now incurable.

– I swear and call them names because I can’t even pronounce their names or titles. They can continue to live a normal life, and my life has stopped.

Due to illness, Netta had to leave her job. She goes to medical research and therapy all the time. The tumor and the procedures led to problems with the intestines, genitourinary system. The young woman is constantly tired, cannot sleep and force herself to eat.

– And the rest of her life will be like this.

Penultimate straw

After learning about the spread of the tumor throughout the body, Netta began to read and learn about the different treatment options herself. Immunobiological drugs are given against some types of oncology, but they have not yet been approved for gynecological cancers. One session of immunotherapy costs 8,700 euros. Netta’s parents are willing to pay for her treatment until the money runs out.

Fortunately, at Oulu University Hospital she was invited to take part in immunotherapy trials, and the first session took place in May.

– I started pneumonia and treatment had to be interrupted.

The pneumonia has now passed and immunotherapy has been continued.

– Good news for the first time in a long time. Judging by the images, the metastases in the lungs have decreased by one to two millimeters. Maybe this is the miracle that will keep me alive.

If immunotherapy does not have the desired effect, cytostatics await the woman ahead of her, which she will have to take all her life. Cytostatic drugs inhibit the growth and development of all cells in the body, primarily affecting malignant ones.

– They may be able to support my life until a new treatment is found.

Small compensation

The Patient Insurance Center paid Nette 12,400 euros in compensation for a medical error. In addition, she is fully covered for the costs of treatment and drugs.

– For me, as a person with a small income, this amount seemed huge, but in fact it is compensation for pain for the rest of my life. I thought that this money would be enough for one year, because officially I am on sick leave.

The only significant purchase she spent some of that money on was an electric scooter. It makes it easier for Nette to move between home and the hospital. When she walks, even a small climb is very difficult for her, and she cannot walk more than two kilometers at all.

Perhaps Netta will be able to receive compensation for the loss of income and permanent injury, but she does not know the exact amount yet. The € 840 she paid to the Mehiläinen clinic for medical appointments was only available to her after a complaint with the Consumer Rights Commission.

Netta is generally unhappy with Mehiläinen’s treatment of her case. She hoped that an apology would come from the doctors who made the mistake and explain what would be done to prevent this happening in the future.

The Yle News Service sent a request to Mehiläinen about Netta Brandt’s case. Medical Director of Clinic Network Kaisla Lahdensuo responded to an inquiry by e-mail.

“In all non-standard situations, we check every stage of our processes. We find out what happened and what led to it. And we correct the order of our actions to prevent this from happening again. ”

Thoughts about cremation

Netta says that she has already mentally reconciled herself to her death and even made some cooking. She is sure that her relatives do not know how seriously she takes thoughts about death.

– After my death, a friend will receive fabrics and a sewing machine, who should help in distributing the inheritance. The apartment will go to my spouse.

Netta wrote down all the passwords separately so that her husband could delete all her social media accounts.

She even thought about the funeral.

– I told my husband that I don’t want to lie in the ground. I want to be cremated and scattered somewhere.

But sometimes Netta just wants to wake up and find that it was all just a nightmare.

– It couldn’t have happened to me. People under forty don’t die, except in movies and magazines.