Anna Sadaka, a 32 year-old mother of two, knows the power of a second opinion when a diagnosis doesn’t feel right.
Ms Sadaka credits Hawkesbury Hospital’s Dr Shadi Faraj with saving her life. His was the second opinion.
It was her mother who first alerted her that something wasn’t right.
“We were at dinner at my brother’s house and my mum said to me, ‘turn your head for me,’ and I did,” the Dean Park resident said.
“Mum said, ‘you have a lump on your throat,’ and sure enough I did, which I had no knowledge about.
“Mum made me promise to get it checked out.”
She did, and the biopsy which came back showed a one-inch benign stage-two tumour in her throat.
She was told she would be sent for regular scans to keep a close eye on the tumour.
“However my gut was telling me that something wasn’t right, and given that my dad had recently passed away with lung cancer, I went for a second opinion,” she said.
“That second opinion was Dr Shadi Faraj, who advised me that he didn’t like the look of my lump either and recommended that it be removed.”
Dr Faraj got her into surgery and removed the lump and half her thyroid on August 1 last year at Hawkesbury Hospital.
“Soon after the surgery, he contacted me and told me he wanted to see me in his office,’ Ms Sadaka said. “This is when he told me I had thyroid cancer.
“Dr Faraj was so fantastic and so on the ball, explaining what was going to happen and when, but more importantly he was so caring.
“My husband was doing all the talking and Dr Faraj stopped him to ask me if I was OK. I had gone very quiet, trying to process the fact that I had thyroid cancer.
“All I could think of was how I wanted the cancer out of me.”
Dr Faraj performed a follow-up operation on August 29.
“With both surgeries I was in hospital for two days and one night. I was back at work a week after both surgeries. After the first surgery I was in the high dependency unit for short time as a precaution and then moved onto a ward.
“I couldn’t believe how lucky I was because the endocrinologist had told me that my tumour had only just started to spread. Dr Faraj said that sometimes a biopsy is done in the part of a tumour that isn’t cancerous, but in actual fact the tumour had become cancerous.
“I felt great, I had no pain or symptoms that you would expect with thyroid issues, let alone thyroid cancer.”
She said it was so lucky she’d decided to act on her gut feeling. “Always get a second medical opinion, and trust your gut, especially if you think that something isn’t right.”