Mother is given months to live after doctors thought cancer symptoms were Covid jab side effects
A nurse and mother-of-two has been given just months to live after bungling medics dismissed her cancer symptoms as side-effects of the Covid jab.
Katie Pritchard, 37, is hoping to crowdfund £200,000 for life-prolonging drugs, that are not available on the NHS, after medics twice misdiagnosed her cervical cancer.
The nurse manager, from Tysoe in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, went to her GP, Shipston Medical Centre, last January after finding a lump.
But a nurse practitioner told her there was ‘nothing to worry about’ and that her symptoms may have been down to the Pfizer vaccine — or even a sexually transmitted infection (STI).
Miss Pritchard was eventually diagnosed with cervical cancer last February. But she then faced a three-month wait before starting treatment, which she said caused her cancer to spread to her lymph nodes.
Despite undergoing a gruelling six-week course of chemotherapy and radiotherapy, and being declared cancer-free last summer, it returned at the end of 2022.
Doctors have now given Miss Pritchard just months to live. She is hoping to access an immunotherapy drug so she can spend more time with her husband-to-be Tom Cronin and their children, Percy, four, and Cass, two.
Katie Pritchard (pictured with her son Cass post-treatment last summer), 37, is having to crowdfund £200,000 for private treatment after she was twice misdiagnosed before finding out she had cervical cancer
The nurse manager (pictured with her partner Tom Cronin), who is mother to sons Percy, four, and Cass, two, went to her GP after finding a lump
But Miss Pritchard (pictured with her son Cass before her cancer) was told there was ‘nothing to worry about’ and that her symptoms may have been down to the Pfizer vaccine
After asking for a second opinion during her GP appointment last January, medics also suggested her lump may be a prolapsed bladder from having children or a STI.
Miss Pritchard said she was left insulted by the latter suggestion — as she had been with her partner for 17 years.
Medics didn’t explain why they thought her symptoms were due to the Covid jab but vaccines can temporarily cause swollen lymph nodes, according to experts.
Unhappy with how medics were handling her case, Miss Pritchard, who works at Horton General Hospital in Banbury, referred herself for an appointment with a gynaecologist at Stratford Sexual Health Clinic last February.
There, she was diagnosed with cervical cancer.
More than 3,000 people in the UK and almost 14,000 in the US are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year. It kills 850 people in the UK and more than 4,000 in the US annually.
Miss Pritchard said: ‘After examining me, he asked if I had come to the appointment alone and from this moment, I knew what he was going to say — I knew it was cancer.
‘I work in healthcare myself, so I knew it was something more than a bladder prolapse or an STI.’
Her gynaecologist was ‘astonished’ the cancer had not been picked up by the nurse practitioner and rang her GP practice to say he was ‘very angry’ about Miss Pritchard’s misdiagnosis.
But Miss Pritchard, who plays rugby, was then ‘passed about’ for two-and-a-half months before her treatment began — by which point the cancer had spread.
Frustrated at the wait for treatment at Coventry Hospital, she referred herself to Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust, where she worked, last April.
That month, Miss Pritchard began five weeks of gruelling radiotherapy, chemotherapy and brachytherapy.
She was sick almost every day, lost two stone, had to make multiple trips to the hospital for IV fluids and had two blood transfusions.
However, she was relieved in June when doctors confirmed that the cancer had gone.
Miss Pritchard was able to enjoy a family wedding and even returned to playing rugby for Stratford RFC.
But a routine check-up scan in September revealed a small dot on her lung.
Miss Pritchard had been suffering from a chest infection and medics thought the infection was showing up on her scan, which they still assumed to be the case after carrying out a biopsy.
She said: ‘It wasn’t until I started getting excruciating pain in my shoulder that they decided to examine further.
‘In this time, the growth in my lung, which was wrongly suggested as an infection, had grown considerably.’
Unhappy with her treatment, Miss Pritchard, who works at Horton General Hospital in Banbury, Oxon, booked herself an appointment with a gynaecologist last February
At the start of this year, Miss Pritchard (pictured with Mr Cronin and their sons Cass and Percy) was diagnosed with lung, shoulder, spine, and pelvic cancer and started palliative chemotherapy three weeks ago
Miss Pritchard (pictured with her former rugby team Stratford RFC)will now tie the knot with her long-term partner Tom Cronin, 35, in an emotional ceremony on Monday before a reception at The Royal Oak pub – where they worked as teenagers
After undergoing further scans, she received the heart breaking news in December that she again had cancer. Doctors told her she only has months to live.
At the start of this year, Miss Pritchard was diagnosed with lung, shoulder, spine, and pelvic cancer and started palliative chemotherapy three weeks ago.
She will now tie the knot with her long-term partner Mr Cronin, 35, in a ceremony on Monday before a reception at The Royal Oak pub — where they worked as teenagers.
The couple are also trying to raise money to fund a treatment using a potentially life-prolonging drug, which is not available on the NHS, so they can spend more time together as a family.
The drug, named pembrolizumab — which is sold under the brand name Keytruda and stimulates the body’s immune system to fight cancer cells — costs an eye-watering £6,000 every three weeks
Mr Cronin, a teacher, said the pair have made a to-do list, which includes sorting a will and making videos for their sons for ‘if the worst does happen’.
Last week, he set up a GoFundMe page to help raise money for pembrolizumab for her to take alongside her ongoing treatment.
The fundraising page has racked up over £107,000 in donations so far.
Miss Pritchard said: ‘I will continue on it (palliative care) for as long as my body can tolerate it or as long as I live.
‘I am so overwhelmed by the support and donations we have received. I am so excited to marry Tom and it has been a long time coming.’
In light of her illness, she has urged people to go on adventures and ‘live for now and not for the future’
‘I can’t thank my wonderful family and wonderful Tom for everything they have done,’ she added.
Mr Cronin proposed at The Royal Oak on the day miss Pritchard was dealt the news she has just months to live.
He said: ‘It has been a horrific time. It feels like the entire last year has been waiting, it’s extremely frustrating.
‘Waiting for treatment, waiting for results, waiting for something else. Inevitably at the end of every single wait was the worst news possible.
‘We’re being realists and positive at the same time. It’s a weird balance.’
Shipston Medical Centre, where Katie says she was misdiagnosed, said they could not comment on individual cases.
A spokesperson for the practice said: ‘We are unable to comment on an individual’s care and treatment, but we would encourage Ms Pritchard to get in touch with us so we can investigate her concerns.’
To make a donation towards Miss Pritchard’s treatment, click here.