In 2009, Herlinda Garcia received news that would change her life: She had Stage IV terminal breast cancer.
Garcia had just undergone surgery to remove a benign tumor in her left breast. But a month after her surgery, Garcia’s oncologist, Dr. Ahmad Qadri,gave her the devastating diagnosis, the Houston Chronicle reported.
Getting the news "was like a mourning process - mourning for myself," Garcia, a part time civil process worker in Victoria, Texas, told the Houston Chronicle. "I just lost my dad three years before, and I felt like I was mourning for my family."
After making arrangements for a caregiver and even creating a bucket list, 54-year-old Garcia went through seven months of chemotherapy in an attempt to combat the disease.
Throughout the course of her treatment, she developed severe anxiety and was admitted to Citizens Medical Center. But when a doctor at the center performed some scans on Garcia, he became suspicious about her disease, leading Garcia to seek a second opinion at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. It was there that doctors uncovered the tragic mistake.
Garcia had been cancer-free all along, and all of her treatment had been unnecessary.
"When I first heard the news at M.D. Anderson and was told that 'you don't have it,' I was happy because I was blessed … because my faith is very strong," Garcia told the Houston Chronicle. "At the same time I was angry because all this damage had been done.”
According to the Chronicle, Qadri had misread a PET/CT scan during one of Garcia’s first visits, mistakenly believing she had enlarged lymph nodes.
Though Qadri died in March, a Victoria County jury awarded Garcia $367,500 in damages for mental anguish.
Garcia said she doesn’t hate Qadri, but she hopes other doctors take extra care when reading important scans for their patients.