Woman Backs Major Campaign After Legal Team Secured Interim Payments To Help Fund Recovery
A Bradford mum who charted her cervical cancer journey in a book has revealed her positive attitude is key to ‘living life to the full’ as she enters her final year of midwifery studies.
Sarah McDonald, originally from Allerton and now Ilkley, was diagnosed with cancer in May 2016. Three years later, she was made aware of an error in the reporting of a 2013 cervical screening result. At the time she had been incorrectly told it was ‘normal’ when it was in fact ‘borderline.’
Following the news in August 2019, Sarah now 37, instructed medical negligence experts at Irwin Mitchell to investigate her care under the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust and whether more could have been done to diagnose her condition sooner.
The Trust admitted that Sarah’s smear test had been incorrectly interpreted in 2013. It further admitted that had it been correctly recorded, Sarah would have been referred for further treatment to remove cells likely to become cancerous and wouldn’t have developed invasive cervical cancer. She would also have avoided a subsequent hysterectomy, early menopause as well as undergoing chemotherapy and radiotherapy as well as a colostomy that was necessary when it was found the cancer had returned and spread to her bowel.
The Trust apologised to Sarah for care that “fell short of expectations.” Sarah’s legal team have also secured interim payments from the Trust which has helped support Sarah and her family.
Sarah, who is now entering her final year of midwifery studies with the University of Bradford, is joining her legal team and Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust in marking Cervical Cancer Prevention Week by speaking out on her positive outlook on life, how her new career path is her way of “giving back to others” and encouraging everyone to engage with the cervical cancer screening program.
Four years after Sarah wrote her book – ‘The Spider In Mummy’s Tummy: My Family’s Cervical Cancer Journey’ – she has joined with Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust and Irwin Mitchell to record a podcast aimed at raising awareness of cervical cancer and the support available to anyone through Jo’s Trust.
Expert Opinion“The last few years, coming to terms with her diagnosis and its life-changing consequences , have been incredibly difficult for Sarah.
However, she’s shown courage to come through the other side with such positivity. Sarah’s ordeal has made her all the more determined to help others which she hopes to do as a midwife.
Through our work, we sadly see the devastating effects that cervical cancer can have. Sarah’s story is a stark reminder of that and she’s keen to raise awareness of the symptoms of the disease while also sharing how she is maximising life after cancer.
We join Sarah in supporting Cervical Cancer Prevention Week, which highlights the importance of early detection and treatment to beating the disease.”
Samuel Hill, Partner and Medical Negligence Lawyer
Sarah went to see her GP in August 2015 with abnormal bleeding and abdominal pain. She was referred to a gynaecologist and underwent a biopsy which found cancerous cells.
She subsequently underwent a hysterectomy in August 2016 to remove the cancer.
However, in early 2017, Sarah was told the cancer had returned and had spread to her bowel. She had chemotherapy and radiotherapy. She also had a colostomy fitted and went into early menopause due to her treatment. She was given the ‘all clear’ that August.
Sarah, who lives with her husband Karl, and three young children Meadow, Phoebe and Joseph, is now in her final year of midwifery studies. Prior to her illness, she was training and qualified as a teacher but made the career change in part to help care for others and do her bit for the NHS.
She credits support from her loved ones and her positive attitude with getting her through her illness.
She said: “Being diagnosed with cervical cancer was a huge shock and completely turned my life upside down. But I was determined to win the battle, and with the help of my family and friends I did that.
“I also approached my recovery with as much positivity as I could muster together, which led to me writing my book.
“I’m so excited to be nearing the end of my studies. I can’t change what I’ve been through but I’m now living life to the full and have a job that allows me to give back to others.”
She added: “Hearing the word cancer doesn’t need to be a death sentence, and while it’s a journey nobody wants to go on, I’m proof that you can get through the other side.
“I know the Hospital Trust admitted errors in my care, but the NHS as a whole does a great job and I would urge women to continue to undergo their cervical screening. Also be aware of the symptoms of cancer. We all know our own bodies and see your GP if you think something isn’t right.”
Cervical Cancer Prevention Weeks runs from 23-29 January and is organised by the charity Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust. For more information visit Jo's Trust.
Find out more information about Sarah’s book ‘The Spider In Mummy’s Tummy: My Family’s Cervical Cancer Journey’
Find out more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in handling medical negligence cases