Nikita - client image

Medical negligence

Cervical cancer failure causes debilitating health conditions for young woman

Our client, Nikita Nicholls, a 31 year old woman, has been left with string of debilitating health conditions after doctors unnecessarily removed her womb, less than two years after failing to spot her cervical cancer. Read more about Nikita's story.

22 June 2021

Our client

Nikita was told her first cervical cancer screening in 2013 had come back clear so when she started to experience abdominal pain and unusual bleeding eight months later, she had no idea that she had a cancerous tumour.

Doctors suggested that the pain was being caused by an UTI or STI before putting her on anti-depressants and eventually removing her appendix. Within ten days she was back in hospital in agony when a gynaecologist finally discovered that in fact she had Stage 2 cervical cancer.

Just six weeks after enduring radio-chemotherapy, Nikita, who was 26 at the time, was advised to have a radical hysterectomy, the most extreme deterrent towards the cancer spreading. The extensive surgery removes the cervix, ovaries, fallopian tubes and pelvic lymph nodes.

The high-risk operation saw Nikita’s ureter cut during the procedure, which although corrected at the time, added to a list of on-going health problems which have reduced her life expectancy, placed her in early menopause and resulted in 37 agonising hospital stays.

The young mum was then dealt a further blow after her lawyers discovered that the radical hysterectomy was carried out unnecessarily as no traces of cancer were found in the removed organs.

The Case

Nikita said: “I put my trust completely in that surgeon. If he had told me that I needed to have my arms and legs amputated then I would have said fine, do it, because I truly believed that he was advising me correctly. But not only did he not provide me with any other options, he pressurised me into having an operation before checking if the cancer was still present and that the operation was necessary.

“I could have had my cervix removed and kept on regular surveillance. This is what should have happened but instead I consented to something without knowing the real facts. They stripped me of my whole female reproductive organs in my 20’s. I have been on HRT patches ever since, lost my relationship and some days I am in so much pain I can’t even do simple mum-tasks, like wash my children’s hair.”

Correct protocol says there should be a 12-week wait after a patient has had chemo-radiotherapy before carrying out this type of operation. This allows for MRI scans and biopsies to be taken to provide doctors with clear evidence as to whether the cancer is still present. Had protocol been followed, it would have shown that the cancer had gone and the surgery was not needed.

As a result of the complications of the invasive surgery, Nikita has been left with obstructions and infections of the kidneys and bowel, recurrent sepsis, premature menopause and osteoporosis. It is believed that she will have kidney failure within her 50’s and need to be on dialysis.

She also battles debilitating pelvic pain caused by the chemo-radiotherapy, anxiety and depression and lives with two stoma bags after having her bowel and bladder removed.

Nikita says: “I was admitted to hospital 37 times. When I was at my worst, I truly believed I was going to die. There were times my children witnessed me in absolute agony, rolling around on my living room floor, screaming in pain. My little girls were seven, four and one when this all started, and have really had to grow up fast.

"For a long period of time my children couldn’t hug me because I had tubes going into my kidneys and I was utterly terrified of infections. I feel guilty for not being able to be a proper mother to my girls.”

Despite the complications threatening to cut her life short by decades, the mum-of-three young girls, now aged 13, 11 and 8, believes it’s her children that really suffer from her bleak diagnoses.

Nikita said: “My children do not have the fond memories of me spending time with them, organising birthdays, watching school concerts or dropping them to their first days of school. I have the broken body of an elderly woman. I can’t go walking, running, biking or exploring in nature with them like we used to. I can’t make up for these lost memories and I know there will be even more lost going forward because my prognosis is so bleak.”

Before she was diagnosed with cervical cancer, Nikita was running her own ice cream business about to embark on a training course to become a teaching assistant. It is now unlikely that she will ever work again.

The hospital have since settled this medical negligence claim for a seven figure.

How can Slater and Gordon help?

Rosaline Wong, a medical negligence lawyer at Slater and Gordon, who represented Nikita, said: “Nikita’s case shows that mistakes in diagnosing cervical cancer can have horrendous and life changing consequences once the window of opportunity for early treatment is lost.

“Nikita was let down at multiple points and has been left with horrific, life-shortening consequences. The lack of an MRI scan prior to surgery was important to this case as Nikita would have made a different decision if her MRI scan was negative. She was also terribly let down by not being advised that radical hysterectomy carries a 25-50% risk of severe complications.

“Nothing will make up for these incompetent errors and the devastating impact on Nikita’s life but we are pleased that this settlement will provide Nikita and her children with financial security to still have the best possible chance of improving the quality of her life and family life.”

Nikita added: “We had a really nice life before this and a truly promising future but all of this has been taken away from me and my family. I don’t want this to happen to anyone else. I don’t want cervical smear testing centres to act as if they can drop the ball and it will go unnoticed. Had multiple people I trusted done the correct thing, all of this could have been avoided. This can’t happen to anyone else.”

If you've suffered medical negligence like Nikita, contact our medical negligence specialists today for expert advice.

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