A local veteran has stage four throat cancer, but said it was more than a year before he was told by VA doctors.
Monday the VA held a meeting to update the public on the unreviewed cases following the firing of pathologist, Dr. Robert Morris Levy. He was found to be impaired on the job.
Since June the VA has dedicated its monthly town halls to discuss the pathology reports.
At this point the VA said its reviewed almost 22,000 cases, with about 12,000 still to go.
But some attendees Monday said they were never notified about the initial changes to their life threatening cases.
In 2015 veteran Kelly Copelin went to the Fayetteville VA for a biopsy of his throat. He was told it was just an infection.
For 13 months he continued to see the VA for ongoing pain. After a second biopsy, he was told he had stage four cancer.
“How much time have I lost in my life now because of 13 months of this, of being misdiagnosed. That hurts. That’s frustrating,” said local veteran Kelly Copelin.
After looking into his own records, Copelin said he discovered the original biopsy did find the cancer, and that the VA never told him about it.
“Had we, my wife and I, not gone forward and pushed the administration here to talk to us, I don’t think we’d have ever gotten notice at least up to this point,” said Copelin.
Following the firing of Pathologist, Dr. Robert Levy, Copelin said he asked the VA how this happened, and said he hasn’t gotten an answer.
The VA said it’s reviewing all cases and will notify those who had a change in their original diagnosis.
“We have offered all veterans who were affected to have a second opinion in the community and we have had some take us up on that,” said Fayetteville VA Public Affairs Officer Wanda Shull.
12,000 cases remain unreviewed, and Copelin said he hopes the VA is telling the truth when it makes that promise.
“I feel good to be alive and here. What scares me is how many people are being affected by this and not know what’s going on,” said Copelin.
I reached out to Senator Boozman to see what change they are trying to make on a larger level, he said he encourages anyone who believes they were affected by the pathologist or the Fayetteville VA to call his office so he can work on getting answers on their behalf.