Dad, 27, ‘fighting for life’ with aggressive cancer after coronavirus crisis delayed NHS scan

A DAD is fighting for his life with an aggressive cancer – after the coronavirus crisis delayed a vital NHS scan.

Sherwin Hall, 27, made 13 visits to hospital during the Covid-19 lockdown before getting a proper diagnosis for the agonising pain in his groin.

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And Sherwin says his consultant has since confirmed the delay in diagnosis and therefore cancer treatment may have severe consequences on his chances of survival.

He told ITV News: "I am very angry at the way I have been treated due to Covid-19 and the delay on my cancer treatment and now I am fighting for my life.

"I have an eight-week-old baby that I might not be able to see soon…. you know…. it just devastates me."

The delivery driver, from Leeds, first began seeking care at Leeds General Infirmary and the city’s St James’s hospital days before before the lockdown began on 23 March.

I have an eight-week-old baby that I might not be able to see soon

At first, doctors brushed off his symptoms and told him it might be a sexually transmitted disease – but multiple blood tests soon refuted this.

Another medic also diagnosed Sherwin's pain as being caused by a condition called prostatitis, in which the prostate gland becomes inflamed.

“I didn’t believe them. I did my own research and knew it was something else," Sherwin told The Guardian.

As Sherwin's pain persisted he begged for an MRI scan – only to be told no scans would be available because of the Covid-19 emergency.

Finally after a month in which he made 13 visits to hospital, Sherwin was able to get a scan last week.

The scan revealed Sherwin had a tumour measuring 14cm in his pelvis and 30 small tumours in his lungs, which he believes developed during the time he could not get a scan.

Doctors say the dad's cancer is particularly aggressive and fast-growing.

Sherwin added: "The doctor said if they would have caught it sooner, if they had given me imagery sooner, they would have been able to tackle it sooner and they would have been confident in the growth size as well."

The doctor said if they would have caught it sooner, they would have been able to tackle it sooner

Sherwin has instructed Mary Smith, a lawyer at Novum Law solicitors, to investigate his care and the possibility of him suing the NHS.

He is also trying to crowdfund the cost of seeking medical treatment in the US, and is finally starting chemotherapy later this week in Leeds.

Ms Smith said: "This is a fairly widespread problem.

"The concern at the moment is that for non-Covid patients, the healthcare system in parts of the UK has entered a state of paralysis and this really cannot be allowed to continue because people are suffering harm."

NHS in 'state of paralysis'

Vital cancer care was put on hold across the country at the start of the pandemic – with a postcode lottery developing whether a patient's chemotherapy, radiotherapy or surgery is delayed or even cancelled by their NHS trust.

And some cancer patients were even told chemotherapy was no longer an option because it would weaken their immune system, making them more susceptible to falling seriously ill if they contract Covid-19.

Leading oncologist Professor Karol Sikora previously claimed a surge in deaths from cancer will be "the next big crisis" the NHS will have to face.

And he warned that cutbacks to cancer treatment amid the coronavirus pandemic could cause 60,000 premature deaths.

Signs of cancer you shouldn't ignore

Knowing the early signs is vital to catching cancer early and improving chances of survival.

1. Unusual lumps

Cancerous lumps often tend to be painless so you can’t just wait around for any odd lumps and bumps to start feeling sensitive – as that may not happen.

2. Persistent coughing

While this is also a sign of coronavirus, if you've had a cough for months at a time and it doesn't go away this could be a sign of lung cancer.

3. Changes in poo

Bowel cancer symptoms can include changes to normal bowel habits, including looser poo, pooing more often or constipation.

4. Needing to pee more frequently

Early prostate cancer, unfortunately, often has no symptoms at all but when they do present, one of the first tends to be peeing more than usual, getting up in the night to wee, needing to pee urgently and having difficulty in passing urine.

5. Unexpected bleeding from vagina, penis or bottom

Vaginal bleeding is the most common symptom of cervical and vaginal cancers.

Same with anal passages and penises – neither should bleed and if they do, they could be signs of bowel or penile cancer.

6. Unexplained weight loss

If you haven’t been actively trying to lose weight and find that a couple of stone have suddenly fallen off, that’s not a good sign.

Losing weight when you are not trying to is a very common symptom in people with cancer.

7. Fatigue

Who isn’t tired these days? But there’s a difference between being a bit sleep deprived and having a complete lack of energy.

“Fatigue for people with cancer might not go away even when you rest,” says Cancer Research UK.

8. New or changing moles

You need to be on the lookout for any new moles or any changes in the size, shape or colour of existing ones.

9. A wound, spot or mouth ulcer that won't heal

Ulcers that don’t health within four weeks or a spot or core that doesn’t clear up within a month are also potential symptoms.

10. Unexplained or chronic pain

Having pain that you can’t account for is something that you should get checked for.

It doesn’t necessarily have to mean cancer; fibromyalgia or back pain are chronic conditions but not necessarily life-threatening.

Prof Sikora, chief medical officer at Rutherford Health and former head of the World Health Organisation's cancer programme, wrote on Twitter: "Coronavirus is an awful disease, but we can't forget that cancer has taken more loved ones than this virus ever will.

"Tens of thousands of people could have their lives cut short because of a reduction in cancer services. We have to get ahead of this – it's the next big crisis."

Cancer Research UK even estimated that 2,300 cancers are now being missed a week amid the coronavirus outbreak.


Leading cancer charities also say they have seen a dramatic rise in calls from cancer patients concerned about delays to their treatment amid the pandemic.

Breast Cancer Now say they saw a 60 per cent increase in enquiries in March 2020 compared to March 2019 – with patients concerned about Covid-19 and breast cancer.

And more than 50 per cent of enquiries to its specialist nurses for support in April were about the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

Meanwhile, Prostate Cancer UK said Covid-19 related calls made up at least 36 per cent of all calls to its specialist nurses since the lockdown was announced in mid-March.

Surge in calls

The majority of these were from men who were concerned about their risk of contracting Covid-19 and the need to self-isolate.

The NHS re-opened for routine care at the end of April as the UK passed through the peak of the coronavirus crisis.

A spokesperson for NHS England said cancer services were quickly returning to normal. 

They said: "Coronavirus has turned millions of lives upside down. 

"NHS staff have made huge efforts to ensure that patients continue to get treatment. 

"Cancer services are largely now open, ready and able to receive all patients who need care.

"Anyone concerned about a possible cancer symptom should contact their GP practice and come forward for a check-up."


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