The women, both residents of the Gold Coast, Phillipa Naismith, 52, and Sandra Harley, 48, explained that they were diagnosed of cancer within months of being given the all clear by BreastScreen Queensland. They have now hired one of Australia's top litigation firms, Maurice Blackburn Cashman, to mount a medical negligence case.
It was explained by the firm that in the case of Ms Naismith the cancer had spread to her bones, and that she has been given two years to live, at most. Their lawyer, Sarah Yellop said, "The best case scenario is two years." Explaining last Monday that both the women do not want the same fate on other women, Ms Yellop said, "They don't want this to happen to someone else and they want women to be aware that they can question doctors."
Ms Harley, who is a mother of three, was diagnosed in 2003 with two tumours in her left breast in spite of having had regular mammograms since 1998. Stating that she is very angry and upset about the negligence when she underwent a mastectomy and was told her life expectancy had been reduced by an unknown timeframe despite previously enjoying good health. Ms Harley said, "When I was diagnosed I had just done my first half marathon."
Explaining that it is her belief that other women should ask their doctors for a reference for an ultrasound examination, which she said should also be subsidised by the government. She also said, "The government needs to step in and revamp the whole system." BreastScreen Queensland, is being funded by the state and federal governments as part of the BreastScreen Australia program, and offers free screening for women over 40 while strongly encouraging women over 50 to have a mammogram every two years.
Jennifer Muller, the senior director of the Cancer Screening Services Unit at Queensland Health, said that there could be many reasons as to why a tumour would not be diagnosed and generally advised women that many a times breast cancers might not be detected at the time of their screening. Explaining that it had been mentioned in the reports of both these women to see their doctor if they notice any change in the time between their screening visits, Ms Muller declined to further comment on the possibility of legal action by Ms Harley and Ms Naismith or any individual cases.