Donna Mercer, 34, said her husband Craig received 'disgusting' treatment after doctors failed to spot his stomach cancer and prescribed him antibiotics over the phone.
The mother-of-seven said the 32-year-old fell unwell in June last year, but even though he'd 'constantly contacted' their GP, South Bank Surgery, in Leeds, he couldn’t get an in-person appointment.
Three months later, Donna said her husband threw up blood that was a 'deep dark reddish colour', but phone-based doctors told him this was due to 'acid reflux'.
More phone consultations followed in early October, when Donna claims doctors diagnosed him with a stomach ulcer and prescribe him antibiotics.
And when Craig was rushed to hospital later that month, Donna said it took her days to convince doctors to check him for the devastating illness, which runs in his family.
Following a series of tests, the couple received the terrible news that Craig’s cancer was terminal, and the dad passed away just 13 weeks later after his diagnosis.
Donna married Craig, the biological father of two of her children, before he died, and described it as one of the 'best days of her life'.
But while preparing for his funeral last Friday (Jan 21), on what would have been his 33 birthday, she claimed he'd be alive today if he’d got an in-person doctor's appointment.
She said: “Craig would still be alive if he’d had a face-to-face appointment. The symptoms were there for five months.”
“I really do think he was let down, and I really think they used Covid a little bit too much as an excuse.
“During that time that Craig had these symptoms, you didn’t have to wear facemasks, you could go back into clubs.
“He had a five-month gap, from June to October – that’s five months’ worth of symptoms, and literally when the surgeon got into him, it had just spread.
“The treatment and everything he received was kind of disgusting.”
The full-time mum, from Leeds, Yorks., said her husband began to feel unwell in June last year but his initial symptoms seemed fairly mild.
Craig admitted himself to A&E in October but after he was sent home, Donna had to call an ambulance as his health rapidly worsened two days later.
She said: “He deteriorated within two days. He looked like someone who had been on heroin all his life after two days of being sick non-stop.
“It took me five days of being constantly sat in hallways for a doctor to come and see me, and when the doctor came to see me, I asked if they’d checked him for stomach cancer.”
Tests finally revealed the crushing news that Craig also had stomach cancer.
Donna said: “The doctor turned around to Craig and said, 'You’ve got cancer, lad'."
Surgeons then examined Craig to see if they could treat his illness, but later discovered that the cancer had spread and his condition was terminal.
Donna, who was due to marry Craig on January 29 this year, moved the date forward to ensure they were wed before his last day.
She said: “That was one of the best days of my life, other than when my kids were born.
“Craig was so nervous, but I’ve never seen that man smile so much in my life, knowing that he was going to be in hospital for his wedding day. He was just so happy.
“Craig had wanted to marry me for years, and he actually asked me and asked me and asked me – and I’d always said, 'yeah, but we’ve got years.'
“Obviously when he found out about the cancer, he then said to me: 'Now will you marry me?' and how could anyone not?
"I always wanted to marry him, I just didn’t know what time was the right time."
Craig died on January 1, just 13 weeks after his stomach cancer was first identified by doctors.
In the weeks before he died, doctors had identified that the dad carried a hereditary cancer gene, meaning his children would now be tested and treated far earlier than he was.
She said: “Thanks to Craig we now know what is actually happening, and soon that will be able to be dealt with.
“I had to lose him, but in order to lose him, he saved his children and his family, and my grandchildren that my two kids will have.”
A spokesperson for NHS Leeds Clinical Commissioning Group said: "We were very sorry to learn of Mr Mercer’s death and offer our sincere condolences to his family.
"Throughout the COVID pandemic all Leeds GP practices have offered face to face appointments where they are deemed clinically necessary following telephone triage with a GP, as was mandated at the start of the pandemic."