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After Marlande Lazard moved from Haiti to Miami 26 years ago, she began traveling back to the Caribbean island on medical missions, determined to teach women there how to check themselves for breast cancer. So, four years ago when she felt a lump on her chest, she knew that she needed to go to the hospital to get the abnormality checked out. After a misdiagnosis and the alleged negligence of Signet Diagnosis Imaging Services and Dr. James Domesek, her radiologist, Lazard was diagnosed with incurable breast cancer. Last month, after her malpractice lawsuit was heard in court, Lazard was awarded $21.6 million.

After being told that she did not have breast cancer Lazard was at first relieved. But less than a year later, in July 2014, the lump had not gone away and she decided to get a second opinion. It was then that she learned, not only did she have breast cancer, but it had become Stage 3 cancer, meaning that there was little that could be done to save her life. Despite the odds, Lazard opted for a bilateral mastectomy, an operation that removed both of her breasts. Lazard is currently being treated with radiation therapy to fight the cancer, which has spread to other parts of her body.

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“If a woman finds a lump or any breast abnormalities, she needs to find a doctor who really cares and questions everything,” said Lazard. “Careless mistakes can be made.”

According to Lazard’s lawyers, after her initial ultrasound, which showed a mass in her breast, a biopsy was not taken. The initial ultrasound results were not conclusive, and although she asked for a second ultrasound, the lawsuit alleges that the technician in the Signet radiologist department did not properly place the transducer over the lump in her breast.  The additional testing would have shown that she had breast cancer almost a year earlier then when she found out, which would have given her a better chance of beating the life threatening disease.

“She is still getting radiation therapy. The radiation has burned everything; skin, soft tissue, and her ribs are crumbling,” said one of her lawyers. “She has two children and she is trying to survive just another day for them.”

The Miami-Dade jury found in favor of Lazard and awarded her $18 million for pain and suffering and $3.6 million for future and past economic losses. Dr. James Domesek was assigned 15 percent of the culpability while the other 85 percent rests with Signet Diagnosis Imaging Services. Domesek’s lawyers told reporters that they will appeal the ruling.

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