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Difficult surgery experience/No resources, solutions or compassion post-op

Please see a copy of my review below that I have posted across social media regarding my deeply regrettable thyroid surgery experience with Dr. Michael J Campbell II at UC Davis in Sacramento, California.  I’m reaching out to see if there are any resources for a patient in my difficult circumstances.  I just saw and endocrinologist (Dr. Kearnon Welch) at UC Davis who told me that I had the "good" kind of cancer.  I sit here on my computer at midnight unable to sleep feeling so broken and invalidated.

My review is as follows:

I regret that my surgeon, Dr. Michael Campbell, did not put as much time and effort into my post-op care as he put into selling his skills and UCD's merits at my pre-op. I now have to go to elsewhere for cancer-care (including routine ultrasounds) because UCD lacks the resources and, frankly, the desire to help me further. I've also had to spend an exorbitant amount of time amending my inaccurate and biased medical records. My records depict conversations that never took place, statements that were taken out of context, and appointments with specialists that I never had.

When I chose UCD for my cancer treatment, I thought I had found an ally in my battle against cancer. I thought UCD would have my best interests at heart and would provide me with compassionate and comprehensive care. I couldn't have been more wrong. I've spent more time and energy battling UCD (and trying to recover from my treatment here) than battling the cancer itself.

On the morning of my surgery when I was having second thoughts, rather than respecting my wishes or calling a time-out to regroup, my medical team coerced me into the procedure anyway. No one noticed that I hadn't signed an advanced directive after I had requested it. They couldn't keep the oxygen mask on my face on the operating table because I was hyperventilating. The anesthesiology resident disconnected the tube from the mask and tried to push it into my mouth. I thought she was going to break my teeth and I told her that she was hurting me. That was the last thing I recall.

When I awoke from anesthesia, the nursing staff chose to tell me the results of my surgery right away while I was still disoriented and then they proceeded to criticize me for crying. I couldn't get water, pain meds, or assistance with the restroom the day after my surgery because the hospital was reportedly understaffed.

Other than one brief post-op appointment with Dr. Campbell, I had little to no other care, resources, or contact from UCD in the weeks after my surgery. Once I was out of sight, I was out of mind. Dr. Campbell never informed me of my cancer stage and he denied my request for a referral for radiation treatment right after he told me that I should consider radioactive iodine.

As for emotional support, keep your expectations low. UCD does not practice integrative whole patient care. Dr. Campbell acted as though I was asking for something unreasonable or excessive when I requested additional time off from work at my post-op appointment to psychologically process the final pathology (lymph node metastasis) and to get a game plan for radiation treatment. At the time of my surgery, UCD's Cancer Resource Center (a tiny self-serve room located inside the Cancer Center) didn't have any information on my type of cancer/endocrine disorders. The Resource Center is staffed with part time volunteers and not trained medical professionals. UCD doesn't have cancer nurse navigators or counselors of any kind. Their social worker, Jena Cooreman, will refer you back to the Resource Center if you reach out for support. UCD's Cancer Center website makes it look like they offer more resources for their cancer patients than they do.

Three years after my surgery, I'm now left on my own trying to figure out what to do with the cancerous lymph nodes I still have that can't be easily treated with surgery or radiation. Dr. Campbell told me that potential complications from further lymph node surgery could leave me disabled. He admitted that he does very few of these types of procedures, yet he couldn't (or wouldn't) refer me to another surgeon with more expertise (not even for a basic consult) and he was unapologetic about it. I have no choice but to look for cancer-care outside of the UC Davis health system and I'm left wondering exactly what part of my experience here at the Comprehensive Cancer Center was supposed to have been, "comprehensive."







1 Responses
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Avatar universal
Wow! That’s not right! It’s a tough enough surgery as itvis then you to have to go through this??? So sorry!!
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