United Kingdom

Mum, 23, who had three appointments cancelled due to Covid is told over ZOOM she has cancer

A care worker who had three vital medical appoointments cancelled due to Covid was told by doctors she had cancer over Zoom. 

Kimberley Eccles's aggressive cancer has now spread and the mum-of-one has been told she only has six months to live.

The 23-year-old has been diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare tissue disease her doctors tell her is found in only 1% of the adult population.  

She was told the devastating news in August over an online video call with her doctors.

Kimberley is one of thousands of Brits who have missed vital operations and medical treatment as a result of the Covid crisis after a government report predicted up to 25,000 deaths would have come in the first six months of the pandemic because of healthcare delays.  

Kimberley Eccles, 23, (pictured left with bricklayer partner Darren Aldred, 24) was told she had cancer over a Zoom call with her doctor in August after three appointments were cancelled due to Covid

Her aggressive cancer has now spread from the tumour in her cheek and the mum-of-one, from Leyland, Lancashire, has been told she only has six months to live

'I have been given a one per cent chance of survival and told I have around six months to live,' Kimberley told The Sun.

'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.'

Kimberley from Leyland, Lancashire, has been told by her doctors that she should 'make memories' with her seven-year-old daughter Maya and bricklayer partner Darren Aldred, 24, and draw up a bucket list as her cancer is a 'ticking timebomb'. 

But she intends to keep on fighting and is raising money to travel to America for alternative treatment.

Kimberley from Leyland, Lancashire, has been told by her doctors that she should 'make memories' with her daughter Maya and draw up a bucket list as her cancer is a 'ticking timebomb'

But instead she is fundraising to go to America to get alternative treatments not available in the UK. She is also undergoing major surgery in the UK on Monday to remove the tumour from her cheek and reconstruct her face using bones from her leg

Rhabdomyosarcoma: A rare form of cancer that develops in soft tissues

Rhabdomyosarcoma is a rare type of sarcoma cancer. It is an aggressive and highly malignant form of cancer.

Sarcomas are cancers that develop in the  connective tissues of the body, such as muscle, fat, nerves, blood vessels, bone and cartilage.

The face is a common place to find this type of cancer, as is the soft tissue in the bladder, arms and legs. 

Rhabdomyosarcoma is more common in children and teenagers than in adults. 

And also, for unknown reasons, is more common in men than women. 

Up to 60 new Rhabdomyosarcoma cases are dianogsed each year in the UK. 

The treatment for rhabdomyosarcoma depends on the patient, and treatment usually startes with a course of chemotherpay. 

But as sarcomas are rare cancers, patients are typically referred to a specialist unit for treatment. 

Source: Macmillan Cancer Support 

'But I can't stop at this, I can't just accept that,' she wrote on her fundraising page. 

'I don't want to write a bucket list, I want to be around to watch my girl grow up, marry the man of my dreams and live a healthy life.'

Kimberley initially thought she was suffering from a mouth ulcer after noticing a small growth on her cheek in June last year. 

But when it grew she was booked in for a consultation, biopsy and MRI scan earlier this year. But her appoinments coincided with the start of lockdown and were cancelled amid the growing coronavirus threat.   

She spent six months in agony while the tumour grew in her left cheek.  

'I was a normal typical mum, working full time as a carer, taking care of family life at home and suddenly everything just completely changed for me and my family,' she recalls. 

Children's home carer Kimberley collapsed at work and was rushed to hospital.  

'My tumour was/is aggressive and once spread will be completely incurable. The Doctor described this as a ticking bomb and once it goes off there isn't any going back,' she adds. 

Kimberley is due to have an operation to remove the tumour in her cheek on Monday after chemotherapy sessions at the Royal Preston hospital and Blackburn hospital failed to shrink it.

Her cheek will be rebuilt during 12 hour reconstructive surgery using bones and tissue from her leg.

Once she has recovered, she hopes to travel to America for treatments not available in the UK. 

Kimberleys cheek will be rebuilt during 12 hour reconstructive surgery using bones and tissue from her leg after chemotherapy sessions at the Royal Preston hospital and Blackburn hospital failed to shrink the tumour

She said: 'So it’s clear that surgery has to happen regardless, we simply cannot risk waiting any longer on getting this tumour out of me. 

'My whole cheek will be removed, along with the bones surrounding which will then be replaced by bone and tissue out of my leg. My face will be left paralysed. 

'The surgeon has made it very clear to us that he cannot and will not give us even a 1% chance of this actually working but he says this is our best shot.

'The doctor tells us that my cancer is unique in many ways and, where a personalised treatment plan would usually be put into place, this just cannot be done for me. It is all trial and error.

'The doctors that I am being assessed by have never dealt with a patient like me in their whole work experience. 

'Knowing there are people out there that can help me and the only thing in the way is money knocks me sick.'

The tragic casualties of the pandemic but NOT the virus itself

Kelly Smith, 31, was told by her doctors in March that that her chemotherapy was being paused for three months - but her cancer spread and she died on June 13

At the start of the pandemic it was predicted in a report by the experts at the Department of Health and Social Care, Office for National Statistics, Government Actuary's Department and the Home Office that  up to 25,000 deaths would have come in the first six months because of healthcare delays. 

Among these are thousands of cancer patients who were not able to access the treatment they needed at the height of the virus' spread. 

Kelly Smith, a 31-year-old beautician, also died after her course of chemotherapy to treat her bowel cancer was paused for three months. Her cancer spread and she died on June 13. 

Beth Purvis is another victim of the pandemic. The mother-of-two's lung cancer spread to her brain after her operation was cancelled.

Mother-of-two Beth Purvis's lung cancer (pictured with husband Richard and children Joseph, 12, and Abigail, 10) spread to her brain after her operation was cancelled

Beth , 41, said: 'My prognosis is not good. I've likely got four months to a year left to live.'

Mrs Purvis had been scheduled to have a tumour removed from her right lung on March 25. But it was cancelled with only a week's notice amid the pandemic.

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

Jennifer Eldridge, 40, has also recieved a terminal cancer diagnosis after she was unable to see a doctor. 

At Easter the active, healthy-living mother-of-two began experiencing back pain.

It was impossible to get a face-to-face appointment at the local surgery, and it took a month even to secure an online consultation. She was prescribed painkillers.

Jennifer Eldridge, who has stage 4 colorectal cancer, is pictured with her daughters Lina, five, and Jasmine, two

Four months later, concerns raised by a blood test she eventually had finally saw Mrs Eldridge referred for a colonoscopy – and a consultant said he had seen what seemed to be a tumour.

Specialists told her she had stage 4 colorectal cancer which appeared to have spread to her lungs, and she was left coming to terms with a terminal diagnosis. 

She believes that had it not been for the pandemic, she could have been diagnosed sooner – boosting her chances of seeing daughters Lina, five, and Jasmine, two, at least reach their teens.

Mrs Eldridge, of Bristol, said: 'I've been told my cancer has likely spread to my lungs, meaning it is incurable and I could have just two years to live.

'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.'

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