Dad-of-two, 27, dies of cancer after begging for MRI scan delayed by Covid crisis as widow tells of agony

A DAD-of-two who had to "beg" to get an MRI scan because of the Covid-19 crisis has died of cancer, his family have revealed.

Sherwin Hall, 27, from Leeds, West Yorkshire, went to hospital on March 23 suffering from leg pain – but despite repeated visits, he was initially only given a course of antibiotics.

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After "begging for a scan" and 13 hospital visits in four weeks, Mr Hall was finally given an MRI scan on May 26 which revealed a 14cm malignant tumour in his pelvis and 30 lung tumours

Before his death, Mr Hall said: "I kept begging them in April and May to give me an MRI scan, but no-one would listen.

"Both my GP and my consultant told me that I couldn't get one because scanning services were slowed down because of the coronavirus."

When he found out his cancer diagnosis, the delivery driver had just become a dad to his eight-week-old baby.

At first, doctors brushed off his symptoms and told him it might be a sexually transmitted disease – but multiple blood tests soon refuted this.

Another medic also diagnosed Sherwin's pain as being caused by a condition called prostatitis, in which the prostate gland becomes inflamed.

His widow, LaTroya Hall, who is being supported by the Catch Up With Cancer Campaign, said: "I am devastated. I have lost the love of my life.

"If Sherwin's cancer had been found earlier it is likely he would still be here today. He would want me to do everything I can to prevent other families suffering as we have.

"It worries me that the Government and NHS leaders continue to say cancer services are back to normal; our family's experience has been that, even now, this is simply not the case.

Signs of cancer you shouldn’t ignore

Knowing the early signs is vital to catching cancer early and improving chances of survival.

1. Unusual lumps

Cancerous lumps often tend to be painless so you can’t just wait around for any odd lumps and bumps to start feeling sensitive – as that may not happen.

2. Persistent coughing

While this is also a sign of coronavirus, if you've had a cough for months at a time and it doesn't go away this could be a sign of lung cancer.

3. Changes in poo

Bowel cancer symptoms can include changes to normal bowel habits, including looser poo, pooing more often or constipation.

4. Needing to pee more frequently

Early prostate cancer, unfortunately, often has no symptoms at all but when they do present, one of the first tends to be peeing more than usual, getting up in the night to wee, needing to pee urgently and having difficulty in passing urine.

5. Unexpected bleeding from vagina, penis or bottom

Vaginal bleeding is the most common symptom of cervical and vaginal cancers.

Same with anal passages and penises – neither should bleed and if they do, they could be signs of bowel or penile cancer.

6. Unexplained weight loss

If you haven’t been actively trying to lose weight and find that a couple of stone have suddenly fallen off, that’s not a good sign.

Losing weight when you are not trying to is a very common symptom in people with cancer.

7. Fatigue

Who isn’t tired these days? But there’s a difference between being a bit sleep deprived and having a complete lack of energy.

“Fatigue for people with cancer might not go away even when you rest,” says Cancer Research UK.

8. New or changing moles

You need to be on the lookout for any new moles or any changes in the size, shape or colour of existing ones.

9. A wound, spot or mouth ulcer that won't heal

Ulcers that don’t health within four weeks or a spot or core that doesn’t clear up within a month are also potential symptoms.

10. Unexplained or chronic pain

Having pain that you can’t account for is something that you should get checked for.

It doesn’t necessarily have to mean cancer; fibromyalgia or back pain are chronic conditions but not necessarily life-threatening.

"Even if services were back at pre-pandemic levels, that is not enough. The cancer backlog also needs to be cleared.

"The Government and NHS leaders need to treat this as the crisis it is and urgently boost services so the NHS can Catch Up With Cancer."

Mr Hall's death comes as cancer patients, celebrities and NHS staff have launched a Christmas video as part of a campaign calling on the Government to boost cancer services "devastated" by the Covid-19 crisis.

The Catch Up With Cancer Campaign was launched by the parents of Macclesfield beautician Kelly Smith who died after her treatment for bowel cancer was stopped because of the pandemic.

TV presenter Victoria Derbyshire said in the film: "All I want for Christmas is for people who've noticed changes in their body or noticed unexplained symptoms to go to the doctor's please."

Cancer charity MacMillan says the backlog of cancer patients from the first lockdown is 50,000 while there might be double the number of patients from the second lockdown.

An international study has suggested that for every four-week delay in treatment there is a 6 per cent to 13 per cent reduction in survival which could lead to the death of tens of thousands of cancer patients who could have survived under normal circumstances.

Co-founder of the campaign and chairman of Action Radiotherapy Professor Pat Price said: "It continues to shock and anger the cancer community that it appears there will be no substantial boost to cancer treatments coming from Government.

"For anyone experiencing cancer right now it must be truly frightening.



"Frontline staff are working heroically to catch up with the backlog, but they simply can't do more than the massive effort they are already putting in.

"And without help and investment from Government, we are looking at a national tragedy.

"This campaign cuts to the heart of a very serious issues, we need to super boost cancer services or we risk losing as many as 35,000 patients needlessly."

Craig Russell, father of Kelly Smith, said: "As many of us look to Christmas and the possibility of a vaccine, cancer patients feel like they are being left behind. We started this campaign to make sure no family suffers as we have.

"Frustratingly it feels like the Government is not listening. Cancer patients cannot be the collateral of Covid.

"It will never be enough to just return services to normal levels, the only way we prevent thousands of needless deaths is by giving the NHS the tools to catch up."

A petition launched by the Russell family has nearly 400,000 signees urging for further action from the Government.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokeswoman said: "Cancer diagnosis and treatment has remained a priority throughout the pandemic and we urge people to come forward if they have symptoms.

"The NHS is working hard so as many people as possible get the help they need and more than 870,000 people were referred for cancer checks between March and August.

"We've given £3 billion to support the NHS in tackling the impact of Covid, including £1 billion to provide extra checks, scans and operations."

 

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