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Breast cancer patient speaks out after misread mammograms: 'I was lied to'

Posted at 10:42 AM, Aug 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-12 00:10:56-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Taleshia Chandler describes her five-year battle with stage four breast cancer through a song she wrote and performs: "I'm more than a conqueror, I'm a survivor, I win."

"I was diagnosed in August of 2015," Chandler said in an interview at Cedar Street Baptist Church of God in Church Hill where she is first lady. "I've taken more medicine than I ever thought I would before I turned 50."

The cancer started in Chandler's right breast and it spread to her bones, her liver, and in, 2018, her brain.

"That's when I become more frightened," Chandler said. "I had four holes drilled in my head and radiation treatment."

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Chandler's cancer is currently "stable," but she has chemo every three weeks, and oral chemo every two weeks for seven days at a time.

"I don't want to die, I want to be able to see my children get married, I want to be able to play with my grandchildren, I want to grow old with my husband," Chandler said.

To cope, she wrote two books about her journey, stayed strong in her faith, and even wrote a song.

Looking back, Chandler said she thought getting that cancer diagnosis would be the worst news she would ever receive, that is, until three months ago, when a friend sent her a link to a CBS 6 Problem Solvers investigation.

"I looked at the article and as soon as I saw the picture my heart dropped, I said that's who I went to," Chandler said.

Chandler was a former patient of Dr. Michael Bigg at the Allison Breast Center on Forest Avenue.

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She said she always had trouble reconciling the fact that she got mammograms in 2013, 2014, and 2015 at the Allison Breast Center in the West End, and Dr. Bigg repeatedly told her everything was fine.

"I was told it was calcification. I had no reason to question or doubt it," Chandler said. "Three months later I was told I had stage four breast cancer. I couldn't understand it."

Our report prompted Chandler to take her old mammograms from the Allison Breast Center to another radiologist.

"He was like no, it wasn't just there in 2015, it was also there in 2013," Chandler said. "That means that in 2013 somebody looked me in my eye, looked me in my face and said you're good to go we'll see you next year, and then I came back the following year the cancer was still there, and I was told you're good to go, year after year I was lied to.

"He even told me that had it been caught in 2013, like it should have, I most likely could have had surgery and moved on with my life because it was at a very early stage at that point."

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Taleshia Chandler

Chandler has since filed a complaint with the Virginia Department of Health Professions.

"I wish that I could go back in time, but I can't," Chandler said.

Two Richmond-area lawyers said since the news broke that Bigg's license was suspended, at least seven more patients have found out their mammograms were misread or under-read by Bigg leading to costly delays in diagnosis.

Chandler believes there may be even more in the future, so she wants to make sure Bigg is held accountable for his alleged life-altering mistakes.

"I want to make sure this doesn't happen to any other woman that is my main goal. I don't want any other woman to go through this," Chandler said.

In previous stories, we reported patients of the Allison Breast Center were having trouble getting their medical records, but in the last few weeks, a lawyer representing some of the women said things have improved.

The new email to send your request for records to is: allisonbreastcenter@gmail.com.

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