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Cancer survivor owes life to doctors in Spain

PUBLISHED: January 28, 2013 at 2:18 pm  •  LAST EDITED: February 9, 2013 at 9:48 am
Andalucia, Health, Malaga  •  5 Comments

Cancer survivor owes life to doctors in Spain

• Spanish doctors diagnosed Elaine's condition almost immediately

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By Frances Leate

A WOMAN who went to her doctor in the UK with a lump in her breast was only diagnosed with cancer three years later after visiting Spanish doctors.

Elaine Wheeler, 63, originally from London, has been living in Torremolinos since 1999.

She had been going back to the UK every year to see family and get an annual health check.

When she visited her UK doctor in 2005 with a lump in her breast she was told there was nothing wrong with her despite not having had a mammogram.

According to Mrs Wheeler, her doctor instead told her to go home and ‘get on with your life’.

After being given the all clear she put it out of her mind until 2007 when she went to the pharmacy in Coin to get painkillers for a headache.

Because of her very high blood pressure the pharmacist recommended she went to Coin Hospital for a thorough check up and it was there she showed a Spanish doctor the lump in her breast, which had now grown to three and a half inches long.

She said: “The doctor was taken aback by what she saw and I was immediately rushed to Malaga Hospital for further tests.

“I had a number of biopsies which confirmed by worst nightmares, I had breast cancer.

“My whole world fell apart.”

Mrs Wheeler had an operation to remove two tumours from her right breast and had 16 sessions of radiotherapy.

She is now in remission and hopes to get the all clear in April.

She said: “I am lucky to be alive. Thank god I was finally diagnosed.

“The doctors in Spain were fantastic and very thorough, they have been phenomenal and I can never thank them enough.

“They were so astute in realising there was something seriously wrong and my doctor in the UK didn’t even check my blood pressure.”

She added: “I spent all those years thinking it was just a cyst because I had been told there was nothing wrong with me, you should be able to trust your doctor but I could have died.”

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julie james

January 28th, 2013 2:57 pm

We have lived in Spain for many years now, and have always wanted to do things ‘the Spanish way’.We just don’t see the point in moving our whole life here, only to keep rushing back and forth to England for hospital treatment.I understand some people are not as lucky though, and have no choice,as they are not entitled to treament here etc.But we have many friends who tend to rush off to England, and do not recieve better treatment, far from it!We have spoken to our Spanish friends about the hospital bugs etc too, and we realise they are in all hospitals etc, but not it seems as serious a problem in the Spanish hospitals.julie


January 28th, 2013 8:54 pm

gps in the uk are useless

diana stinchcombe

January 31st, 2013 4:38 pm

My husband, who sadly died last year, received wonderful treatment in spain for brain cancer and was under carlos haya in malaga for nearly one year, i could not fault them .


January 31st, 2013 6:01 pm

As this lady has lived in Torremolinos since 1999 she is obviously not entitled to UK medicine except as a visitor (E111 or EHIC) which is for emergencies. Perhaps the UK doctor thought she was going ‘home’ after her holiday and would be treated properly there.


February 1st, 2013 8:22 am

First, I am glad this lady’s cancer has been picked up, but I wonder if it would have been picked up earlier had she done things properly. If she has been living in Spain for 14 years or so, why was she going back to UK for checkups? She wouldn’t be entitled to NHS care unless she had been trying to fiddle the system by not declaring she was non-UK resident, thus making her illegal in UK and Spain. Too many people try to get out of paying for private health insurance but eventually it comes back to bite them. It isn’t clever!

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