A young mum who died of cervical cancer after suffering the symptoms for almost three years should have been diagnosed and treated earlier, her family claim.
Keely Devine, 23, died on 7 September 2013 on the Teenage Cancer Ward at St James’ Hospital in Leeds, where she had spent the last four months fighting for her life as her condition rapidly declined.
Keely’s health problems started just after the birth of her son Jayden in September 2010 when she had pain in the left side of her hip, heavy bleeding, abdominal pain and discharge.
However, despite visiting her GP on more than six occasions to discuss her symptoms and attending hospital up to four times over two-and-a-half years,
by the time she was diagnosed with cervical cancer in January 2013, Keely had a large tumour measuring 5cm x 6cm x 3cm which was obstructing her cervix and had spread into her pelvis.
Keely of Armley, Leeds, was diagnosed with cervical cancer on 4 January 2013 and began a six week course of radiotherapy and chemotherapy on February 19 last year which caused her to suffer side effects such as severe sickness, vomiting and weight loss.
By May 2013, the cancer had begun to affect her bowel and bladder and Keely was admitted to Hospital because of extreme constipation.
On 13 June 2013, Keely’s family were informed that it had been too late to treat the cancer and that Keely’s condition was terminal. She remained in hospital until she died on September 7 2013.
Now her distraught mum Alexandra Dickinson has instructed specialist medical lawyers to investigate if more could have been done by her GP surgery and staff at the Accident and Emergency department to diagnose Keely earlier and
potentially treat her cervical cancer.
Alexandra, who is now looking after Keeley’s three-year-old son Jayden, said: “As a family we are still coming to terms with losing Keely and in such tragic circumstances.
“She had her whole life ahead of her and was looking forward to watching Jayden grow up. Instead her life was cut short and now I hope we can find answers as to why this could happen to my daughter and find out why, after she repeatedly
complained to doctors about the pain and discomfort she was experiencing, that she was not diagnosed sooner.
“It was heartbreaking to see her struggling with her illness as it took hold in the last few months of her life. She was incredibly frightened and in a great amount of pain.
“She began to struggle to communicate with us and was finding it increasingly difficult to cope with her deterioration. She became wheelchair bound and extremely weak. She wanted to spend time with Jayden, but she didn’t want him to see and remember her in so much pain and distress.
“Before she died, Keely was studying for a qualification in health and social care as she wanted to become a social worker. She was determined to gain this qualification so that she could give Jayden the best life possible.
“I hope that with the help from my legal team at Irwin Mitchell that we will be able to find out if more could have been done to diagnose her cervical cancer earlier so that the NHS can learn any lessons from her care. No other young
girls or mothers should have to go through what she did.”
Rachelle Mahapatra, Partner and medical law expert at Irwin Mitchell’s Leeds office, representing Alexandra, said: “This is a heartbreaking situation as Keely was only 23-years-old when she died and also leaves behind a young son.
In the couple of years before her death Keely had made multiple visits to her GP and the hospital and we are investigating if more could have been done to spot the cervical cancer earlier.
“Although cervical cancer in young women is rare our specialist medical law team has dealt with a number of cases involving women in their twenties from across the country whose cervical cancer was initially missed by doctors.
“Delays in promptly diagnosing and treating cervical cancer can have devastating consequences and it is vital that doctors focus on the symptoms rather than the age of a woman when deciding whether or not it might be cancer.
“In this case we are still in the early stages of our investigation as her devastated family just want answers as to what happened during her care.
“They know nothing can turn back the clock but, this case is about highlighting any potential issues and lessons that can be learnt to hopefully prevent other young women from suffering as Keely did.”
An NHS spokesman said that no comment would be offered while there was ongoing legal action.