I am the product of cancer three-times over (in prison.) Being a non-recipient of adequate care, as well as normal human decency, from all involved, including medical professionals. So, in all reality, I was given a life sentence of over and over.
I am only 65 years old. This letter is regarding my medical treatment since being incarcerated at Perryville Prison Department of Corrections, Arizona, and how medical could have prevented me from now having metastatic stage 4 terminal breast cancer. I now take Ibrance® and Arimidex® chemo pills daily for the remainder of my life to keep and maintain the cancer from spreading. I was told there’s nothing else they can do for me. The oncologist stated my life expectancy is 10-years or less.
They have taken my life and given me a death sentence, twice over
The public defender who defended me, Mr. L.V., forced me to go to trial when the State had offered me a plea in which I could have gone home by now, or be going home in 6 years. This was my first offense, I was 47 years old, and was sentenced to 135 years! My public defender was disbarred in 2013.
When I arrived at Perryville, I became aware that many of the women with the same crime as mine received sentences of 5, 10, and 24 years with 85% while I received flat time running each sentence consecutively. I take full responsibility for my actions, which my attorney did not allow me to do at trial. Tell the truth – I deserve to be in here. But not for the time I received – 135 years. That’s a story in itself (not murder.)
In October of 2005 the Women’s Cancer Society came to Lumley Unit to speak with us about breast cancer; how to examine ourselves, and how to look for signs. That evening, while showering, I found a lump in my left breast. I submitted a Health Needs Request (HNR) to medical stating “I have a lump on my left breast the size of a golf ball.” There was no reply from medical
In November of 2005, I submitted a second request regarding the first HNR. The HNR is a 4-part form; the top white copy for inmate files, and the other 3 parts for the inmates’ plan of action from the provider. In December I received the Plan of Action back from the provider as “This matter has been resolved.” No explanation included.
In June 2006, six months later, I was sent to Maricopa County Hospital for a biopsy on my left breast. An Intern, being supervised by an attending physician, was to perform the biopsy. The intern numbed the bottom right area of the left breast (lump is on the left), then inserted the needle to aspirate a sample of tissue. The needle was not inserted on the left side where the mass was located. The attending physician instructed the intern to “Rotate the needle upwards.” I began to cry out with pain for them to stop. The intern stopped and stated that she had enough tissue and pulled the needle out. She did not reinsert it into the correct area where the lump was located. Months later I received the diagnosis that the tissue was benign.
The latter part of 2006 I submitted an inmate letter (a kite) requesting to view my medical records. I became aware of an entry date 12-16-2005 stated: “A mass on the left breast of 2.3 cm, repeat mammogram consult to C.C. biopsy was recommended.” Medical never followed through from the time I became aware of 2.3 cm mass on my left breast.
The golf ball lump was now getting bigger. I continually complained to Medical that it was getting bigger, but they ignored my requests.
In 2007, during my chronic care visit, I complained to the provider that the lump was getting bigger. She didn’t have a measuring tape, so she took her pen to measure it. She drew dots on my breast representing the size of the lump. But she said or did nothing to resolve the matter,
At the beginning of 2008, I was coming from my yard and encountered the female Deputy Warden (more about her later.) I cried out to the Deputy Warden (D.W.) as I clutched my left breast now the size of a grapefruit. The D.W. quickly took out her Blackberry phone and called Medical. I was finally sent in for a second biopsy at the Maricopa County Hospital.
On June 12, 2008, I was called to Medical. Upon my arrival at <Medical a Nigerian provider asked me to sit. As I sat down the provider sat, and the nurse stood at the doorway. The provider began to rub my arm and proceeded to tell me “You have stage 3 breast cancer.” He began to rub my arm again and said: “Don’t worry Honey, we will still make love to you whether you have one breast or none.” I was flabbergasted. I looked at the nurse to see if she would reprimand the provider, but she did nothing. So I got up with tears running down my face and ran out of there.
The Assistant Deputy Warden came to our yard (24) on Lumley yard. I reported the provider’s comments and all he said, as he laughed, “It’s just like him,” and left.
They sent me to the Cancer Treatment Center at the Maricopa County Hospital. I began chemo treatments and on my first (of 36) treatment I lost all my hair. I was bald. When the officers would do count, they would stare at me through the window. I would sit and cry, hit my head as they looked at me a laugh.
When all 36 chemo treatments were completed, I was given a mastectomy on my left breast only. The hospital was to place a blood-bag to drain the excessive blood, but Medical never followed through. Instead of using stitches to close the incision they used tape as a suture. Two of the tapes fell off and my left breast became inflamed. It looked as if I had a Double-E breast. The officer called Medical. I was running a high fever. The nurse came to my room (cell). She said, “Take these IBs (ibuprofen), drink lots of water, and rest.” I did as she said. I woke up that evening to my bed drenched with blood. My roommate began to pound on the door. It was after midnight. No officers were around doing their security checks. My pod was in the middle. As my roommate began to pound on the door, other women woke up and began to pound on their doors. The pounding traveled from C-Pod where I was to B-pod next to the Control Box. The girls (inmates) got the officers’ attention and finally, they came to my cell. When the officers saw I was bleeding and saw my bed drenched in blood, they called 911 immediately. The ambulance came to the yard and took me to the hospital.
The nurses noticed I had lost a lot of blood. I was given a blood transfusion of two to three bags of blood. That was followed by surgery. I was told I had a hematoma that occurred due to the hospital’s negligence not placing the blood-bag after the mastectomy and, once again, Medical never following through. They released me the day after surgery; the Department of Corrections policy does not like for us as inmates to stay at a hospital more than one day.
A week later two of the incisions opened and became infected. I began to run a high fever. The officers called Medical. The nurse came to my cell. Once again, the nurse gave me IBs and said, “Drink lots of water and rest.” Their method of solving problems, crossing their “T’s” and dotting their “I’s”, but not taking care of us.
The following day I could not get out of bed. I was very weak and running a high fever. The gals had to carry me and place me in a wheelchair. I was wheeled down to Medical. The provider saw my condition and called 911. The ambulance came to Lumley and took me to the hospital. I was taken to surgery. And told I had “MRSA.” After surgery, I was moved to hospice where I stayed for seven weeks.
While I was in hospice the nurses assigned to me stated “You are not allowed to shower. You are an inmate.” I asked to speak with the Director in regard to what the nurses stated. The nurses lied, I was able to take a shower. The nurses assigned to me gave me a hallucinogen. As I began to hallucinate spiders, I told the officer assigned to watch over me, but she did nothing. The nurses came in a placed a bag of saline to flush me out knowing the doctor was coming in to see me.
Every other day I was hooked up to a suction machine. They would insert a tube in the hole in my chest/breast where the MRSA attacked the skin then suck out the mucus that would build up. I asked questions about how it worked and learned how to operate it and remove the mucus.
After seven weeks I was released from hospice I was sent to Inpatient Care (IPC) at Perryville. The nurses there were given the suction machine to continue aspirating the mucus. I was told they didn’t know how to use it, so I had to remove the mucus myself. I was also told I had to make my own bed and change my linen.
When released back to my unit om 24 Yard in Lumley I called to Medical to report in. When I walked in the sitting officer at Medical asked, “You are my name? I said: “Yes and why?” The office said, “We had you on the board at the yard office as dying.” I said, well, here I am.
Months later, as I was going to the shower, one of the gals asked me: “Who hit you?”. I answered: “Nobody, why?” She pointed to my right lower leg, my calf. There was a big bruise. I went to Medical and was told I had a vein which burst. They sent me out for an MRI and found clot which had traveled up through my heart, and into my left lung. I was put on injectable Warfarin, a blood thinner. The provider said I would have to take it for the rest of my life.
In 2012 DOC move us to Santa Maria, another unit. I went to see the provider and asked when would I be able to get off the Warfarin? I told them that the provider at Lumley said I would be on it for the rest of my life. The provider at Santa Maria looked at my chart and said I was only supposed to take it for 6-months. “You have been on this medication for over 2 years. As of today, I am removing you from this medication.” I’d been going to medical once a week for this and felt like a pin cushion. I’d been lied to (again.)
Rather than being honest with us about our medical issues, the medical staff lies to is to save their butts.
For those with mental issues, Medical over medicates them. Some move like the walking dead, talking to themselves, making sounds, twitching, with their hands flying all around. Not helping them/us.
What happened to the word “rehabilitate?” For some who can’t afford to buy clothing, we walk around with clothes that are ripped, stained, too big, too small, and dingy gray underclothes that should be white. Let’s just say, you wouldn’t let your family pet lay on them, or any animal for that matter.
In 2014 I saw the provider at Santa Maria to discuss a breast implant. A mammogram performed in December came back as negative for cancer. He told me I was in remission.
Then I was moved to Santa Cruz in February of 2015 per my request. When I saw the Santa Cruz provider, I informed him about my mammogram for an implant just 2 months earlier. He sent me to have another one. This one also came back negative for a re-occurrence of cancer.
Next, I was sent to see the plastic surgeon, who explained the procedure, i.e. the expander, saline once a week to stretch the skin to take the implant, then inserting the implant. After that, then I would have my right breast lifted for symmetry as required by the American Cancer Society for Breast Cancer. It’s the law.
On March 27, 2015, during the process of placing the expander, the doctor became aware that the tissue didn’t look right. He took a scraping and sent it to the pathologist. It came back “positive for re-occurrence of cancer.”
I was sent to another surgeon to remove the expander and the tissue cells/cancer. After surgery, he told me the cancer was all gone. Medical did not send me to an oncologist to test and verify this. They didn’t follow through.
In September I was sent back to the surgeon to place another expander and began the implant process again. The areola and nipple were removed, and I was told they would create a new nipple. This never happened. Even though it had been approved by DOC, it was denied by the Director. I got the run around when I approached to have the right breast lifted for symmetry. I submitted numerous Inmate Letters and grievances.
To this day, the left breast is truly deformed and very ugly (for lack of better words) and the “matching” right breast is a completely different size and shape., Not symmetric or aesthetic in appearance, and not soft to the touch,
Not even 2 months later I noticed these dark, tiny, pea-sized lumps protruding around the outside of the left breast (implant) and spreading to my lower ribs. I complained to numerous nurses, and they looked at the lumps. Not once did they report the lumps. The response was “Don’t worry, it’s from the implant.” Over and over.
During a chronic care visit with the provider, I complained to her about the lumps on my left breast and ribs. Instead of sending me to an oncologist, she sent me back to the plastic surgeon. He performed two biopsies in his office. The results came back positive for Stage 4 Metastatic Terminal Caner – no curable.
When I saw the provider, I asked her what kind of cancer I had. She raised her voice and said: “I don’t know. I don’t know anything about cancer!”. The provider doesn’t know anything. She Googles on everything that pertains to our health to get information. A nurse practitioner how knows nothing about medical
On June 26th, 2017 I was seen by an oncologist for the first time. She confirmed I had a recurrence of cancer. But now it’s Stage 4, terminal, not curable. I asked what that means, and she told me that it’s not curable and my life expectancy is 10-years or less. She prescribed Ibrance® and Arimidex® chemo medications.
I was called, with no warning, to Medical to have a Pap smear. No chance to take a shower. When speaking to the provider I stated that I was refusing the Pap smear because I have Stage 4 cancer and haven’t showered. He said; “you’re right. There’s nothing we can do for you anymore. If you decide to have a Pap smear, put in an H.N.R.
The Medical’s state of mine, their compassion is basically arrogant. It’s all about power upon power. We are worthless in their eyes and hearts. If you could only hear how they speak to us.
If Medical had addressed this issue back in 2005; had sent me for the biopsy on the 2.3cm mass as requested by the “MOM” mammogram truck that comes to do x-rays for breast cancer; had removed the mass, I would not be going through what I am now. Facing Stage 4 terminal metastatic cancer, not curable. I would not have lost my left breast. I would not have gone through the hematoma, blood transfusion, MRSA and recurrence of cancer. I would not have lost my hair.
I’ve gone through a lot. They put my life in jeopardy being in their care, being a ward of the state, and using tax-payer money to only benefit themselves.
I’ve seen so many deaths in here which could have been prevented. Women not allowed to go home to die in peace with their families. All because it’s about power upon power
I’ll leave it to your imagination, thoughts, and feelings. If these walls, wires, and cells could talk, the things that happen here, your hearts would go out to us. We all make bad choices in our lives, but to treat a human being the way they do is not right.
I just found another lump on my left breast. I may be dying, but I have found myself again. I am not who I was. The drugs, the mental abuse, the physical abuse I endured from the time I was conceived through my second marriage made me a person who was looking for someone to just love me. I know now that I must love myself first. My God that loves me and doesn’t judge me is the only person I have to please. It’s okay if nobody else loves me. I love myself and have taken full responsibility for all my actions. I need someone to believe in me.
Here’s what happened to the D.W that helped me at the start of 2008. An inmate who had a mental illness (there are many women with mental illness in here) was placed in segregation (the hole), a unit fenced enclosure for confining inmates. She was placed outside in the barb wire enclosure with temperatures reaching over 120 degrees F. She laid on the concrete during the hottest part of the summer. She was not offered water of medical attention. The inmate died of cruelty: mental, emotional, and physical abuse by medical. Despite the Deputy Warden having nothing to do with the inmate’s death, she was fired from her position.