Leeds man's cancer scans campaign nears 150k signatures after promise to late friend Gemma Sisson

A petition to change NHS practice to give cancer patients a full body scan before the 'all clear' is nearing 150,000 signatures.

Wednesday, 31st March 2021, 6:00 am
Daniel Clark-Bland set up the campaign in 2019 after his best friend was diagnosed with incurable secondary cancer

Daniel Clark-Bland set up the campaign in 2019 after his best friend Gemma Sisson-Moore was diagnosed with incurable secondary cancer.

Gemma, from Leeds got the devastating diagnosis just months after being given a verdict that there was 'no evidence of active disease'.

After marrying her fiance in the care of Sue Ryder Wheatfields Hospice, Gemma sadly died in July 2020 aged 39.

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Gemma Sisson-Moore, who died after a battle with secondary cancer aged 39

Daniel vowed to Gemma that he would campaign for a review of NHS practice to include a full body scan for most cancer patients before an 'all clear' or 'no evidence of active disease' verdict.

The petition has now reached more than 149,000 signatures from people across the country and Daniel has been contacted by other families who have lost loved ones in similar circumstances to Gemma.

Daniel, who lives in west Leeds, said: “The campaign hasn’t gone away, but we gave it a break to allow the country and Matt Hancock to focus on Covid.

“However, it’s still very much needed and it’s probably even more important now given the huge backlog Covid has caused for cancer care.”

Backed by Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves, Daniel is now building his campaign.

He is asking health secretary Matt Hancock to initiate an urgent review of the NHS standard practice, including updating NICE guidelines and the NHS's Long Term Plan ambitions to prioritise full body scans.

“We’re clear that the full body scan wouldn’t have stopped Gemma from dying," Daniel said.

"But it would have limited the suffering that she went through. Had they done the scans earlier, it’s likely that she wouldn’t have needed spinal reconstruction surgery, she would likely have had longer with us as they would have been able to attempt to fight the tumours while they were still small.”

Daniel's campaign has been backed by the family of Emma Hoult, a mum-of-two from Leeds who died after a battle with secondary cancer.

Emma's husband Tony believes the secondary cancer could have been spotted sooner if Emma was given a full body scan along with the regular mammograms that she received.

It is hearing stories like Emma's, and the vow he made to Gemma, that keeps Daniel going with the campaign.

“I owe it to Gemma and her parents," Daniel said.

"I wanted to do it while she was alive so that she’d have something she could focus on, something that was positive and bigger than just her.

“And it’s fundamentally the right thing to do. It’s such a prevalent disease and it will shape a lot of people’s future healthcare requirements.

"What keeps us going is that it’s the right thing for the community."

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “Cancer diagnosis and treatment has remained a top priority throughout the pandemic, with 1.86 million urgent referrals and over 477,000 people receiving cancer treatment between March 2020 and January 2021.

“We continue to urge people to come forward to their GP if they have symptoms.

"As part of our additional investment in the NHS, an extra £1 billion is being used to boost diagnosis and treatment across all areas of elective care in the year ahead.”

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