HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The wife of a former Kaneohe Marine who's battling terminal breast cancer is suing the U.S. government because doctors failed to diagnose her for years.
Danielle Goddard, 29, said she went to the doctor four years ago for a mammogram and ultrasound when a painful lump in her left breast wouldn't go away.
"They told me it was dense fatty tissue. It was fibrocystic changes. It wasn't cancer," said Goddard, from her home in Manassas, Virginia.
Only 25 at the time but with a family history of breast cancer, Goddard said doctors told her not to worry.
Nearly three years later, her symptoms were worse and she discovered another lump.
After tests, she learned she had cancer not from a doctor, but from an automated message.
"I wasn't told by a doctor. I was told by Tripler (Army Medical Center's) automatic appointment line. That you have appointments with oncology, radiation, general surgery, nutrition," she said.
The cancer had been confirmed by a biopsy, but it was too late. Doctors told her she would likely die by the end of this year.
"I know what terminal means so to drill it in and tell me that I'm not going to be able to see my kid graduate was devastating," said Goddard, whose son Asher is 7.
Judith Pavey, Goddard's attorney, said the situation is simply "not right."
She said doctors should have ordered a biopsy in the beginning.
"Just because you are young doesn't mean that you don't have breast cancer and the only way to rule out breast cancer is to get a biopsy," said Pavey.
Pavey will ask the U.S. government for millions in damages and hope to reach a settlement.
If not, the case could go to federal court in Honolulu.
Named in the lawsuit are Tripler Army Medical Center, a medical clinic at the Kaneohe Marine Corps Base and the Naval Hospital Camp LeJeune in North Carolina.
Goddard is hoping a settlement will provide for her young son.
She also hopes that other women, especially military dependents, will hear her message about advocating for their health.
"I want other women, especially in Hawaii who are dependents like I was, to question their doctors, to push," she said.
The U.S. Attorney did not respond to our request for comment.