"It's barbaric and something our medical system needs to change," the woman said, commenting on the doctor's attitude
28-year-old Amanda Lee knew something was wrong with her when she experienced intense stomach pain and gastrointestinal distress for months. She began to find it difficult to eat, causing her to rapidly lose 35 lbs. When she approached a gastroenterologist, he brushed off her symptoms and body-shamed her. On consulting with another doctor, she was diagnosed with Stage 3A colon cancer, which had spread to her lymph nodes.
The Los Angeles-based actress, singer, and photographer recalled what happened at the time and said, "He said, 'Maybe that's not such a bad thing' that I couldn't eat because of my pain. He was praising the fact that I was not eating." He went on to call her ability to only eat easily digestible foods like apple purées a "blessing," and told her that she "doesn't look malnourished". He even refused to run diagnostic tests on her. Lee left the appointment crying and shared the experience in a TikTok video. "I've been dealing with abdominal cramping for months now and no doctor will listen to me, so I thought I'd go to this new GI doctor that I had to fight for, and I told him that I hadn't been eating because it causes pain and I have pain when I eat. He looked at me and had the audacity to say, 'Maybe that's not such a bad thing,' "I'm so upset. I'm so upset," she explained in the clip, according to PEOPLE.
The video went viral and many users asked her to approach another doctor which she did. She was diagnosed with Stage 3A colon cancer, which had spread to her lymph nodes. Lee is now undergoing chemotherapy, and has a few more months to go, but "everything seems to be going as planned," she said. "I still have a lot of hair, so I still look pretty normal. Chemo is hard, but I can do it. It's a small price to pay for a long life. I am so grateful ... to everyone who reached out and said, 'Please go find another doctor,' " she added.
Lee then encouraged others to advocate for themselves if they think something is wrong. "I'm not saying the cancer outcome is normal. That's not normal. But the way he handled the situation is normal, and it is way too common. It's barbaric and something our medical system needs to change," Lee said. "If one woman wakes up tomorrow and hears my story and decides to find another doctor after a doctor had treated her poorly, then I have done my job," she added, according to PEOPLE.