Report: Cancer Patients Decry Deadly Delays and Cancellations Due to Focus on Covid

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Cancer patients in Britain report their lives are being cut short by delayed diagnoses and treatment pauses due to the “obsession” with COVID-19.

Sharing their stories with the Daily Mail, several patients facing dramatically shortened lifespans — many the parents of young children — said that ‘The NHS should be for everybody, not just Covid patients.”

“My prognosis is not good. I’ve likely got four months to a year left to live,” reported 42-year-old Beth Purvis, who said she had an operation to remove a tumour from her lung cancelled on just a week’s notice in March.

The mother-of-two said the she “burst into tears” when she received the “devastating” news that her operation had been cancelled.

devastated, I just burst into tears. It is a critical operation because it could help buy me time.

“I will never know if that operation could have saved my life. It might have done. But it was cancelled, and then I found out at the end of May it had spread to my brain,” she told the newspaper.

Similarly, 40-year-old Jennifer Eldridge, also a mother-of-two, found herself completely unable to secure a face-to-face appointment with a doctor when she began experiencing symptoms, and it took a full month to organise an online consultation — which ended with a prescription for painkillers.

Four months later, a belated blood test and colonoscopy revealed she had terminal colorectal cancer.

“If I could have seen my GP earlier, if those supposedly ‘non-urgent’ tests had been carried out… the cancer might not have had the chance to spread. To suddenly have your future as a family ripped from your hands is the worst part. I won’t be there with Jonathan to guide Lina and Jasmine through their childhoods,” said Jennifer, who says she “could have just two years to live” — although she is attempting to beat the odds with a GoFundMe to raise money for treatment not provided by Britain’s socialised National Health Service.

For 31-year-old mother-of-one Kelly Smith, however, the book has already closed, with step-father Craig Russell reporting that she died in late June after doctors paused her chemotherapy for three months in March.

“I’m angry at Covid and that I got put on this break because I don’t think I should have,” Kelly had said before she passed away.

“I’m terrified – absolutely terrified. I don’t want to die. I feel like I’ve got so much more to do.”

“Cancer is a far bigger threat than Covid ever could be. Every day 500 people die from cancer and those numbers are starting to increase because there is no treatment. Sadly, it is too late for Kelly, but there is still time to save others,” said her step-father, who has set up a petition “urg[ing] Matt Hancock to boost cancer services, at all stages of the cancer pathway, to stop tens of thousands of cancer patients dying unnecessarily.”

Over 316,000 people have signed as of the time of publication.

University of Buckingham oncologist Karol Sikora responded to Kelly’s story by warning that “Cancer is not a disease where you can put people on the shelf for three months. It’s not like hip replacements or cataract surgery where patients on the waiting list face immense discomfort – if cancer isn’t diagnosed and treated promptly, it can spread, and more people will die.”

Sikora’s sentiments echoed those of leading cancer researcher Angus Dalgleish, who earlier this month wrote that “in my work as an oncologist, I see daily how the relentless focus on Covid is distorting healthcare priorities and undermining treatment.”

“Vital consultations are delayed, operations deferred. The effect of coronavirus means rationing has now been imposed on an epic scale,” he said, noting that “110,000 patients have now been waiting for more than a year — the highest total since records began — to begin treatment”.

“This obsession with one issue — Covid — is disastrous,” commented Sir Iain Duncan Smith MP, a former Conservative Party leader and Cabinet minister.

“A second lockdown would be an unmitigated disaster in health terms: fewer cancer patients will get treatment, and there will be more deaths,” he cautioned.

Cancer Research UK has warned that there is now a backlog of three million people awaiting screening –and that they fear “this will mean poor survival for cancer patients.”

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