- For months, doctors dismissed Georgia Ford’s pain, discomfort, weight loss, and vomiting.
- She was told she was drinking too much and had back spasms, but she really had stage-4 cancer.
- The 20-year-old is sharing her story of medical gaslighting to encourage others to speak up.
When Georgia Ford went to the doctor with what felt like heartburn, she was honest about her drinking habits. “Yeah, obviously I do” drink a lot, Ford, a 20-year-old law student at the University of Exeter, said she told the clinicians.
So Ford left with pills that help protect the stomach lining, but they didn’t seem to work even when she took a break from booze, multiple news outlets reported.
Next, doctors misdiagnosed Ford’s discomfort as muscle spasms. Months later, her back pain was so intense she could barely lie down, according to the New York Post. She also experienced a severe cough that led to vomiting and weight loss, but clinicians remained unconcerned.
‘They basically said that this was all in my head and I wasn’t ill at all,” Ford said, according to Metro UK. “I said, ‘I fail to believe that I’m having this many severe symptoms and it’s all in my head.'”
Even when Ford went to the ER coughing up blood and “cloudy patches” on her lungs, doctors told her it was “nothing life-threatening.”
They were wrong. After booking an appointment with a private practitioner more than six months after her symptoms began, Ford learned she had papillary renal cell carcinoma type 2. The rare type of kidney cancer had spread to her lungs, liver, lymph nodes, and bones. At that stage, the 5-year survival rate is 8%, according to Healthline.
Ford, who started a GoFundMe to help pay for her treatment, said she’s spent two weeks in an inpatient oncology unit, undergone two types of treatment including immunotherapy, and sees a specialist consultant in London.
She said she doesn’t know if her story would be different had her diagnosis come earlier. “It’s one of those questions that I’ll never know, but always wonder,” she said. “If you think that something’s wrong, you need to push and push.”