The global obsession with the coronavirus — and only the coronavirus — has cost countless lives over the last 18 months. One mother is lashing out at the U.K. health system after her daughter died of cancer after being refused an in-person doctor’s appointment for months.
According to her family, Jessica Brady might still be alive today if only doctors had seen her face-to-face last year.
But Jessica didn’t have COVID-19, so she was left to languish at home, according to reports and one online petition. She died at the age of 27 after doctors failed to spot her tumor in virtual appointments.
Now, her family is speaking out.
“Our precious daughter, Jessica, died on the 20th December 2020. She was 27 years old,” wrote Jessica’s mother, Andrea Brady, in an online petition aimed at Britain’s Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Sajid Javid.
“She had been ill for 6 months, but the spring/summer lockdown meant face to face consultations with her GP were restricted and numerous antibiotics were prescribed, even in the absence of a physical examination. Jessica was told for months she was suffering from Long Covid despite two negative coronavirus tests.”
Andrea Brady went on to plead for changes to the way cancer screenings and treatment are handled for young people, citing the tragic manner in which her daughter allegedly fell through the cracks.
The Daily Mail reported that Jessica’s liver cancer went unnoticed despite worsening symptoms and fatigue and even concerning test results. By the time she got an in-person visit with a private doctor, the disease had spread to her lungs, bones and spine, and it was too late.
“She was finally diagnosed with cancer on the 26th November,” her grieving mother wrote. “Her dependency upon oxygen from this date meant she did not leave the hospital or ever return home.”
Jessica died weeks later.
“We are obviously devastated. Our world has been shattered.”
The Mail reported that Andrea Brady had a chance to share her daughter’s story with British lawmakers this week.
“I think the most important thing is we feel and Jess felt that no one listened, no one took it seriously and more than anything, she needed a permitted face-to-face appointment really early on, with people making notes,” Andrea Brady told the country’s Health and Social Care Committee.
“And also, during all that time, she wasn’t seen by one designated doctor. Four different doctors spoke to Jess and prescribed her medication. And we think that was really key.”
“No one person was looking at the whole picture and putting the pieces of the jigsaw together. That didn’t happen until two days before Jess received her diagnosis, when I think there was an element of panic.”
Andrea Brady concluded that her daughter’s cancer probably wouldn’t have spread so aggressively had she been given a chance to see a doctor sooner.
According to the Mail, Javid said more will be done to prevent deaths like Jessica’s.
“I think everyone can understand why during the height of the pandemic that GPs couldn’t provide access in the normal way,” Javid said.
“But we are way past that now, life is starting to return almost back to completely normal and as that is happening it should be happening in our GP surgeries too, and more GPs should be offering face-to-face access. We intend to do a lot more about it.”
Perhaps doctors in the U.K. will remember Jessica’s case during the next surge of COVID-19. Just maybe, doctors in this country will remove their coronavirus blinders as well.
The rest of us would do well to remember that, just as people have died of COVID-19 throughout the last year and a half, so too have many died of cancer, preventable diseases, suicide and drug overdoses.