• 9 Investigates another claim of poor breast cancer treatment by VA


    ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - Channel 9 is hearing from more veterans who are upset about the treatment they are or are not receiving from the Orlando Department of Veterans Affairs for breast cancer.
    Channel 9's Lori Brown talked with one woman who believes her cancer case would have been much worse had she not gotten private care.
    Retired U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Rochelle Coronado is the third veteran to come to 9 Investigates with concern about treatment received for breast cancer by the Orlando VA.
    "I went for a mammogram (and) they found something suspicious. I was sent out for a biopsy. I received a phone call while I was at lunch, and the person said, 'This isn't good, this isn't good at all. You have cancer. A doctor will call you,'" Coronado said.
    Coronado said she left work for the day and waited for the phone call.
    "(A) couple of days went by; nobody called," she said.
    Coronado got her medical records from the VA and went to an outside doctor using her private insurance.
    "I went and had my surgery. Afterwards my case manager calls and says, 'The VA didn't approve your surgery,'" Coronado said.
    She said it took four more months until she finally received a call that the VA did approve her surgery.
    Coronado said she was thankful she had not waited.
    "We did serve our country. If the VA is there to serve our veterans, we deserve the same kind of treatment we could get on the outside," Coronado said.
    Coronado, who served in the Army from 1984 to 2009, including a tour of duty in Iraq, said she believes if she had waited for the VA to approve her surgery, it could have been too late.
    Coronado contacted Brown after seeing Brown's reports on U.S. Army Spc. Dawn George and Vietnam War veteran Pamela Paddock.
    Both women were cancer patients who said they were denied certain treatments or not given enough tests.
    "We women veterans are not getting the best service," Coronado said.
    Friday afternoon Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert A. McDonald was in Orlando.
    Brown asked McDonald about breast cancer treatment for veterans.
    "Will you investigate how breast cancer patients are being treated?" Brown asked McDonald.
    "I had read some of those reports. Let me ask Tim (Liezert) to comment. Certainly we're concerned about every veteran," McDonald said.
    Liezert is the Orlando VA Medical Center director.
    "Our concern is to go to every veteran and review the care plan," said McDonald.
    McDonald said the number of female veterans is growing, and a better environment is needed for taking care of them.

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