Valley veteran dying of cancer files $50 million lawsuit against Phoenix VA

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U.S. Army Veteran Steven Cooper and his girlfriend, Rima Follman U.S. Army Veteran Steven Cooper and his girlfriend, Rima Follman
MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

A U.S. Army veteran dying of cancer has just filed a $50 million lawsuit, alleging medical negligence.

It is the latest in a string of lawsuits targeting the Phoenix Veterans' Affairs Medical Center.

Rima Follman is making the most of the time she has left with her boyfriend, U.S. Army veteran Steven Cooper.

"I love him more than anything in this world," said Follman.  "One day you're OK, and the next, somebody says to you, you have stage 4 prostate cancer, and you have 6-12 months to live, and there's really nothing you can do about it. Hospice will call you Monday."

Cooper is doing the best he can to stay positive, but it's not easy.

The 44-year-old Valley veteran is convinced that his illness would not have become a death sentence, if only he had received basic medical care from Phoenix VA Medical Center.

Cooper's attorney Gregory Patton filed the $50 million lawsuit against the VA for medical negligence, claiming that Cooper tried for more than a year to get an appointment at the hospital, and when he was finally examined, a nurse practitioner disregarded an abnormality in his prostate.

The lawsuit states that the nurse practitioner, "Did not order any further testing... refer Mr. Cooper to a urologist or schedule follow-up appointments."

"She tells him that he's fine and that there isn't any required testing and isn't anything to worry about," said Patton. "He believes her - he trusts her - and unfortunately that cost him his life."

According to the lawsuit, when Cooper finally saw a doctor a year later, his cancer was so far advanced, there was only so much doctors could do.

His girlfriend said this is not how we should treat someone who spent 18 years serving our country.

"It is unfair," said Follman. "We live in a country with some of the best hospitals and doctors. Something like this shouldn't happen.

Copyright 2015 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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