Great Britain

Doctors miss mum’s killer cancer for months during coronavirus lockdown – then tell her over a Zoom call


A MUM’s killer cancer was missed for months during the Covid crisis.

Kimberley Eccles then learned via a video call that she may have just six months to live.

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She had three vital appointments cancelled at the start of lockdown. Kimberley, 23, spent six months in agony as a tumour grew in her left cheek before being rushed to hospital when she collapsed at work.

Doctors finally confirmed her worst fears during a Zoom video call — leaving her in tears in front of her seven-year-old daughter.

A cancer specialist advised her to draw up a bucket list and “make memories” with daughter Maya.

Kimberley, a children’s home carer told The Sun yesterday: “My heart is broken — I’m only 23 with a beautiful daughter who needs me. But I have been given a one per cent chance of survival and told I have around six months to live.

“I’m trying to be brave so as not to upset Maya but I just can’t stand the thought of leaving her and never seeing her grow up. I had my daughter at home when I took the video call and was so shocked I couldn’t speak.

“I can’t help thinking how different it might have been if there had been no pandemic and my cancer had been diagnosed earlier. There must be many other cancer patients in the same position as me now.”

'Tragic case'

Kimberley, who lives with bricklayer Darren Aldred, 24, and Maya in Leyland, Lancs, has Rhabdomyosarcoma, a highly aggressive cancer which is extremely rare in adults.

She thought it was a mouth ulcer when it first appeared in June last year and it was later wrongly diagnosed as a blocked saliva gland.

But by February it had grown into a painful tennis ball-sized tumour and she was booked in for a consultation, biopsy and MRI scan.

Her appointments clashed with the start of lockdown and were axed.
Kimberley was rushed to the Royal Preston Hospital in August.

A biopsy failed to detect the malignant cells. But a second confirmed cancer. She then lost her hair after three bouts of failed chemotherapy.

Kimberley is set for a 12-hour operation on Monday at the Wirral’s Clatterbridge Cancer Centre to have the tumour removed, along with her entire left cheek and jawbone. Surgeons hope to rebuild her face using bone and tissue from her back.

She has raised £12,000 towards the £50,000 cost of treatment in the US. A spokeswoman for Lancashire Teaching Hospitals said: “This is a very complex and tragic case and Kimberley and her family have our sincere sympathy. We would strongly encourage her to get in touch so we can explore exactly what happened.

“Despite the pandemic, cancer treatment and diagnostics have remained a priority with appointments cancelled only if absolutely necessary.

"If any one has any concerns they should get in touch with their local hospital.”

What is rhabdomyosarcoma?

Rhabdomyosarcoma is the most common type of soft tissue sarcoma to occur in childhood, accounting for 53 per cent of cases.

There are up to 60 new cases a year in the UK - with it more common in children under the age of ten years.

It arises in muscle or fibrous tissue and can occur in almost any part of the body.

The most common sites are around the head and neck, the bladder or the testes. Sometimes tumours may be found in a muscle or a limb, in the chest, or in the abdominal wall.

Occasionally, if the tumour is in the head or neck region, it can spread into the brain or the fluid around the spinal cord.

The causes of RMS are unknown although children with certain rare genetic disorders, such as Li Fraumeni syndrome, have a higher risk of developing RMS.

The five year survival rate for childhood RMS is 71 per cent.

Children diagnosed at the age of ten-14 years have lower survival, around 50 per cent, than children diagnosed at a younger age.

Symptoms of soft tissue sarcomas depend on the part of the body affected.

The most common sign is a swelling or lump.

A variety of tests and investigations may be carried out to diagnose a soft tissue sarcoma. Blood and bone marrow tests will be taken. A biopsy is usually taken so the tumour cells can be examined under the microscope.

Source: Children with Cancer UK


EXPERTS warn 35,000 will die of cancer within the next year because of Covid disruption.

Separate analysis suggests 50,000 people have cancer that remains undiagnosed. And a further 33,000 should have started treatment but are yet to do so.

It could take a year and a half to clear the backlog, Macmillan Cancer Support says. Grandad Andy Steels, of Hull, died of lung cancer a day after his 54th birthday in August.

He was unable to see a GP during the first Covid wave. Wife Jo said: “The professionals kept saying that if he’d got here quicker there would’ve been more that they could do.”

Today host Al Roker returns to morning show two weeks after surgery for prostate cancer

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