A young Gold Coast woman diagnosed with terminal cancer is suing two doctors, alleging they failed to provide medical care to the standard expected.
- Ashleigh Simrajh went to see a GP about an usual lump when she was 20 years old
- The GP and the general surgeon she was referred to did not take a biopsy
- She now has melanoma that has spread and is no longer treatable
Three years ago, Ashleigh Simrajh went to see a GP about a lump on her thigh.
“It was like a little ant bite, not even a pimple measurement yet, just like a small abrasion on my leg,” Ms Simrajh said.
Ms Simrajh, now 23, said the doctor told her he thought it was a cyst and did not take a biopsy, but referred her to a general surgeon.
When she saw the surgeon, he told her it would cost $2,500 to remove it in the private system as a “cosmetic procedure” or she would face a two-year wait in the public system.
“Being a 20-year-old girl working at McDonalds, I didn’t really have a lot of savings at all,” Ms Simrajh said.
“So that kind of really scared me off and I thought I’m not going to do anything about it.”
Ms Simrajh said over the next 12 months the lump became more painful and started to bleed when knocked.
“It was really, extremely painful, I couldn’t sleep on it, I couldn’t wear clothes over the top of it,” she said.
A ‘race against time’
Ms Simrajh said she booked in to see another specialist at a skin clinic, who took a biopsy within five minutes of the appointment.
“Two days later I got a call saying it was a melanoma,” she said.
Further tests confirmed the cancer had spread into her lungs and lymph nodes and was no longer treatable.
Lawyers acting on behalf of Ms Simrajh and her family have launched legal action against two practitioners, seeking compensation for her pain and suffering.
Shine Lawyers medical law expert Clare Eves said Ms Simrajh’s ultimate outcome could have been avoided.
“In the grand scheme of things, there’s no real compensation which can really compensate Ashleigh or the family for what they’ve lost or what they’ve gone through,” Ms Eves said.
“Ashleigh is also deteriorating very quickly so it’s now a real race against time to make sure all the evidence is preserved and we are able to commence a claim and get justice for Ashleigh and her family.
“In Queensland melanoma is not that uncommon.
She was concerned, Ashleigh did all the right things, and she was really let down by the system in this particular case.”
‘They failed her’
Ashleigh’s father, Tony Simrajh, said his family would like to see someone held to account.
“I’m sure if that was those doctors’ own daughter they would have [performed] every single test and done everything in their power, but they didn’t for my beautiful daughter,” Mr Simrajh said.
“Ashleigh relied upon these two doctors in particular and they failed her.
“As soon as she found the right doctors it all happened.
Ms Simrajh said she hoped her story was a warning for others.
“Any bump, go get checked,” she said.
Ms Simrajh and her fiance Jason Hale are now quickly planning a wedding.
“Just a small get-together, nothing major, especially with everything going on right now a lot of people can’t afford it,” she said.
“I love him and I want to be with him forever.”