Local breast cancer survivor vows to educate others following misdiagnosis

Taneisha Gist

Local breast cancer survivor vows to educate others following misdiagnosis
July 07
09:10 2022

As if battling stage 4 breast cancer isn’t stressful enough, imagine having the cancer surgically removed from your body and being told you are cancer free, only to learn you were misdiagnosed a few weeks later. That is the reality for Winston-Salem native Taneisha Gist, who thought she was cancer free, then was told that there were still cancerous cells in her body – not once, but twice.

Gist, who is better known throughout the community as “NeishaStrong,” was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer in 2018 shortly after losing her father to cancer. Because it was determined by physicians at Novant Healthcare that the cancer was stage 3, Gist started chemotherapy immediately. Things were going smoothly with Novant for nearly three years according to Gist, then the relationship started to sour. 

Gist recalled one incident where she requested some fluids, but was ignored by doctors and nurses. A few days later Gist passed out and had to be rushed to the hospital due to dehydration. “I was trying to get some fluids from my doctor and they gave me a hard time, so I ended up leaving and passing out,” Gist said.

After discussing her issues on social media a few weeks later, Gist said she received a call from Novant’s Cancer Center telling her they would no longer treat her because of a comment left by someone else. 

“Someone on social media reported the post .. and I get the call saying I can’t come there anymore because my doctor feels threatened,” Gist explained. “It’s not the fact that they dismissed me, they didn’t even give me an opportunity to see any other oncologist there.”

Because by this time she was battling stage 4 breast cancer and the cancer had traveled to her liver, Gist said she didn’t have time to continue going back and forth because she needed a doctor..And in 2021, she started going to the Duke Cancer Center in Durham. 

After the initial appointment at Duke didn’t go as planned, Gist returned a month later to give the center another chance. During that second visit, Gist received the news she had been waiting five years to hear: that her cancer was in full remission. 

“I got home and the doctor calls me and says, ‘Ms. Gist, I want to tell you that you’re cancer free, we don’t see any cancer on your scans,’” Gist recalled. “I put the phone on speaker phone so my family could hear the good news and everything. And I’m just crying … I don’t think I’ve ever cried that much.”

Gist said she waited a week before she told anyone else the news. She said she wanted to make sure it was true. “I took my sister with me to the next visit and I just kept asking the nurses and doctors if they were sure and they confirmed the results,” Gist said. 

A few more days passed and Gist was scrolling through her medical records when she stumbled upon an addendum that said the cancer was still in her liver. 

“I stay in MyChart so I’m reading and see the addendum that says the findings were wrong and that it’s cancer still in my liver,” Gist said. “I didn’t get a call, didn’t get a message, nothing. I found it in MyChart on a Friday so I had to wait until Monday to call and the nurse said the doctor was supposed to call, but she was on vacation. And the excuse was your cancer was so tiny we could see it on the scan.”

Once again Gist was faced with a tough decision, continue seeing the doctors and staff at Duke or find another oncologist. She decided to try her chances with Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist Comprehensive Cancer Center. 

In February of this year Gist had the last remaining cancer cells removed from her liver and things were starting to look up. But then she was hit with more bad news. “Everything isn’t perfect as far as my health, but everything is better. I definitely was on the road to some good things until I had this mishap,” Gist said. 

While doing a routine checkup for pilonidal cyst at Novant Health, Gist was told that the cancer in her liver was worsening. “As soon as I got to the car, I started crying, I don’t even know how I was able to drive,” said Gist while replaying that day in her mind. 

Gist followed up with her oncologist two days later and that’s when she was told that her cancer was still in remission and that the doctors at Novant had read the scans wrong. According to Gist, the doctor at Novant was looking at an old scan. When Gist  tried to reach out to the doctor who misdiagnosed her, she couldn’t find him. She said the name of the doctor listed on her records isn’t the doctor she saw that day. 

“For a whole week I’m going to doctors double checking, going to appointments, verifying everything, and they’re like, he’s wrong,” Gist continued. “So I’m reaching out to the hospital trying to figure out what happened, but the thing is the doctor they have on my after-visit summary in my MyChart, I never even saw that doctor. So it’s not a trace of the other doctor who checked my scan.”

Since being misdiagnosed for the second time, Gist has filed a complaint with Novant’s medical board and talked to several malpractice lawyers. The lawyers she has talked to have told Gist she has a case, but it could be very expensive. 

“They tell me I have a case but they said it’s so expensive because I don’t have any physical injuries,” Gist continued. “So it’s like now I have to go out here and speak for myself to make people aware that this is not right and doctors are getting away with it because they know they can.“

While she understands it may take some time before any action is taken in her own case, Gist said she will continue to use social media and other outlets to encourage people to ask questions when they go to the doctor and seek a second or third opinion if needed. 

“I hate seeming like the difficult patient, but I hate seeing what happens to patients who don’t say anything. This is the second time this has happened to me. I can’t lay down and just let that be the case,” Gist said. “As a Black woman, I’m tired of us being at a disadvantage … these people have been failing me since I was diagnosed and they keep getting away with it. 

“And I may not get millions of dollars from this or anything, but I’m going to let people know.” 


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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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