0370 1500 100

Heartbroken Mother Demands Answers After 23-Year-Old Daughter Dies From Cervical Cancer

Expert Medical Lawyers Investigating Young Girl’s Treatment


The devastated mum of a young cervical cancer victim, who tragically died aged just 23 leaving her young son behind, has instructed the help of expert medical lawyers to investigate her diagnosis and treatment after she suffered for almost three years with symptoms.

Keely Devine, from Armley, in Leeds, died on 7 September 2013 on the Teenage Cancer Ward at St James’ Hospital where she had spent the last four months fighting for her life as her condition rapidly declined.

Her distraught mum Alexandra Dickinson instructed specialist medical lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate if more could have been done by her GP surgery and staff at the Accident and Emergency department of her local hospital to diagnose Keely earlier and potentially treat her cervical cancer as she suffered for years with symptoms of the illness. 

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 three or 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.

Throughout her appointments at her GP surgery and hospital, the young mum was repeatedly told that she had an infection and given antibiotics and Keely was also fitted with the contraceptive coil to try and alleviate the heavy bleeding and discharge she was experiencing. But despite her repeatedly raising concerns about the pain she was experiencing, she had no physical examinations and was refused a smear test on the grounds that she was too young to have this.
Expert Opinion
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.”
Rachelle Mahapatra, Partner
Keely was diagnosed with cervical cancer on 4 January 2013 and began a six week course of radiotherapy and chemotherapy on 19 February 2013 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 St James’ Hospital in Leeds 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 7 September 2013.

Keely’s devastated mum, who is now looking after her 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.”

© 2017 Irwin Mitchell LLP is Authorised & Regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. Our Regulatory Information.