Cervical cancer: Expert discusses 'main symptoms' of condition
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A nurse manager has been given just months to live after medics dismissed her cancer symptoms as side-effects of having the Covid jab. Katie Pritchard, 37, was twice misdiagnosed before finding out she had cervical cancer. Now the mum-of-two is aiming to crowdfund £200,000 for private treatment.
Katie initially went to her GP after finding a lump but was told there was “nothing to worry about” as her symptoms may have been down to the Pfizer vaccine.
She was also told that it may be a prolapsed bladder from childbirth as well as the suggestion it was caused by a sexually transmitted infection despite 17 years with her partner.
Unconvinced Katie independently scheduled an appointment with a gynaecologist and was diagnosed with cervical cancer later that same month but she was then forced to wait an agonising three months for her treatment to begin – by which point the cancer had spread.
Finally she began five weeks of gruelling radiotherapy, chemotherapy and brachytherapy in April last year and was told the treatment was a success.
However, in December, after undergoing further scans, she received the heartbreaking news that her cancer had returned and was later diagnosed with lung, shoulder, spine, and pelvic cancer and given three months to live. She started palliative chemotherapy three weeks ago.
Katie, from Stratford-upon-Avon, said: “When I first went to the doctors with my symptoms, I knew something wasn’t right.
“I had to really push for the nurse practitioner to examine me for the second time in my appointment and she told me there was nothing to worry about.
“I knew it was more than a bladder prolapse and I had been with my soon-to-be husband for 17 years, so I knew it wasn’t an STI.
“I was left with no faith, and it didn’t make any sense so that is when I booked myself in to see a gynaecologist. I was seen urgently within 10 days after making my appointment.
“After examining me, he asked if I had come to the appointment alone and from this moment, I knew what he was going to say – I knew it was cancer.
“My gynaecologist was astonished that this hadn’t been picked up by the nurse practitioner and rang them to tell them he was very angry about my misdiagnosis. I work in healthcare myself, so I knew it was something more than a bladder prolapse or an STI.”
Throughout her five weeks of intense chemotherapy Katie was sick almost every day and lost two stone in weight.
She had to make multiple trips to the hospital for IV fluids and had two blood transfusions but in June was told the cancer had gone.
Katie, who works at Horton General Hospital in Banbury, recalled the moment she learnt the cancer was back later that year. “At the time, I had been suffering from a nasty chest infection, so doctors thought it was just some of the infection showing up on the scan,” she said.
“They conducted a biopsy called a bronchoscopy which looked at the issue with a camera and again reassured me it was still just an infection.
“It wasn’t until I started getting excruciating pain in my shoulder that they decided to examine further. In this time, the growth in my lung, which was wrongly suggested as an infection, had grown considerably.”
It is planned Katie will marry her long term partner Tom Cronin, 35, a teacher, in an emotional ceremony next week (February 27).
The couple are also trying to raise money to fund a potentially life-prolonging drug not available on the NHS so they can spend more time together as a family.
The drug named pembrolizumab costs a staggering £6,000 every three weeks and so far, the fundraising page has racked up more than £107,000 in donations.
Shipston Medical Centre, where Katie says she was misdiagnosed, said they could not comment on individual cases. A spokesman for the practice said: “We are unable to comment on an individual’s care and treatment, but we would encourage Ms Pritchard to get in touch with us so we can investigate her concerns.”
To make a donation towards Katie’s treatment, visit gofundme.com/f/please-help-fund-katies-cancer-treatment.
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