25-Year-Old Woman With Rare Cancer Was Told by Doctor She Had Piles

A 25-year-old woman who was diagnosed with a rare and advanced cancer has spoken out about how the disease was missed by several doctors, including one who reportedly dismissed her health issues as piles (hemorrhoids).

San Diego resident Kasey Altman, who works for Google, was diagnosed with a rare cancer that affects soft tissue—called rhabdomyosarcoma—in October 2020 and was told by doctors that she did not have much time left.

The cancer was diagnosed as "stage 4"—meaning one that has spread from its original location to distant parts of the body. These cancers are the most difficult to treat.

Rhabdomyosarcoma usually affects children and has a five-year survival rate of around 20 percent.

Altman said that prior to her rhabdomyosarcoma diagnosis, three doctors had failed to take her concerns seriously.

"I was perfectly healthy, exercising daily, eating well, I'm a former college athlete so I take my health very seriously," Altman told the Caters News Agency. "Then I had these tumors pop up on my body, which was close to my anus, and no one would listen to me because I was young, healthy, and looked fine.

"The first doctor I saw didn't give me an exam at all, she just refused to look at it. I walked in and said, 'This is what I think is a tumor on my body.' She dismissed me within two minutes and sent me on my way with a suppository, which would help a hemorrhoid."

A third doctor—an obstetrician-gynecologist—also assessed the 25-year-old, but she also assured her that "it couldn't be anything serious" because Altman was young and healthy.

"I started to get emotional because no one was hearing me, and this was the third time it happened in three weeks," Altman said. "She was reluctant but did order a CT scan, which then led to my diagnosis. So, I'm grateful for that but it was still considered an issue to get her to take me seriously."

Altman has taken to TikTok to share her experiences, with her account currently boasting more than 35,000 followers and more than 1.7 million likes. The 25-year-old said she wanted to raise awareness of what she perceived to be gender bias in the medical field.

"I honestly didn't really know until after posting on TikTok how many people had a similar story to me," Altman said.

@kaseyaltman

And that’s on being a woman and being disbelieved 🤦‍♀️ #fyp #cancer

♬ original sound - ♡Alex Blake♡

The video can also be seen here.

Altman has undergone chemotherapy to treat her cancer, only for the disease to return.

In October 2021, Altman wrote in a blog post: "Within a measly four weeks of finishing 10 months of treatment, it was already shattered. As I collect the shards, I am reminded that this is not the end. This is simply on the continuum of healing.

"I expected a few months of disease-free Nirvana, but my cells had a different plan. That's the thing, though—I never fooled myself into thinking I'd 'beaten' an incurable, rare, late-stage cancer upon completion of frontline treatment. I knew my cancer was 70–80 percent likely to recur."

Altman told Caters that the "hardest pill to swallow emotionally" after being diagnosed with advanced cancer in her 20s was thinking about and planning for the future.

"When you're told you probably don't have much time left, you have to make a pivot," she said.

"For me, that was to try to find my purpose in this world because I had this sense of urgency that didn't exist before. I'm at the point now where I'm advocating for myself now and taking an active role in my treatment. We're pursuing every option under the sun."

A woman with cancer
Stock image showing a female cancer patient. A 25-year-old woman who was diagnosed with rare and advanced cancer has spoken out about how the disease was missed by several doctors. iStock