'Devastated' caller’s life is on the line as rare cancer treatment cancelled amid Covid crisis

15 January 2021, 08:54

By Fiona Jones

This devastated caller told Nick Ferrari his life is on the line as treatment for his rare cancer, which can only be performed in Guy's Hospital, has been cancelled amid the Covid crisis.

Caller Paul Sefton was diagnosed in July with a neural paraganglioma, a tumour placed in between his lungs and his heart.

He has to travel across the country from Manchester to Guy’s Hospital in London as the treatment for his specific cancer is only available in this hospital department.

"I got a date to go just before Christmas, January 4, but they phoned me up on New Year's Eve to say it had been cancelled because they had closed the nuclear medicine department down...because of the Covid emergency," Mr Sefton said.

He told Nick that he'd not been given any short-term or long-term prognosis, adding: "If this continues to grow then it's going to cause major problems...and will eventually kill me."

"It was seven centimetres in February, and I know it was 11 centimetres in October so it is moving on, it is growing," Mr Sefton said.

Nick asked if his cancelled appointment was rescheduled and Mr Sefton said that the department "couldn't guarantee" his treatment would take place in January, although he is top of the priority list when they open.

"How do you feel with the NHS devoting so much attention to [Covid] that your life is possibly on the line?" asked Nick.

Mr Sefton said, "It was absolutely devastating when I got the news it was cancelled. To be honest with you, it was at the back of my mind it could happen when I was given the date before January.

"London's figures were way above Greater Manchester's for Covid so I knew that I was putting myself at risk of catching Covid again just by coming down to Guy's Hospital."

He acknowledged that it "can't be easy" for any doctor to tell a sick patient their operation is cancelled.

"I do sympathise but you know with any sort of cancer patient there is an element of selfishness and you want things done as soon as possible because your life is on the line."

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