A mother of two who was diagnosed with terminal cancer after clumsy doctors dismissed her symptoms as side effects of receiving the Covid vaccine has died.
Katie Pritchard, from Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, passed away surrounded by her family in June after a 17-month battle with cervical cancer.
The 37-year-old woman went to her GP last January after finding a lump, with doctors suggesting it could be the result of her Covid vaccine or an STI.
Wanting a second opinion, the NHS head nurse referred herself to make an appointment with a gynecologist. It was then that she was diagnosed with cervical cancer.
Her husband, Tom, said she has left an “irreplaceable” space and that the pain of losing her “best friend and mother of my two children at 37 is indescribable.”
Katie Pritchard (pictured with her son Cass after treatment last summer), passed away surrounded by family in June after a 17-month battle with cervical cancer.
The head nurse (pictured with partner Tom Cronin), mother of four-year-old Percy and two-year-old Cass, went to her GP after finding a lump.
Pritchard went to his GP last January after finding a lump.
But a nurse told her there was “nothing to worry about” and that her symptoms could be due to the Pfizer vaccine.
After seeking a second opinion, the doctors also suggested that her lump could be a prolapsed bladder from having children or an STI.
At the time, Pritchard said this last suggestion insulted her, as she had been with her partner for 17 years.
The doctors did not explain why they thought her symptoms were due to the Covid vaccine.
But vaccines can cause temporary swollen lymph nodes, experts say.
Dissatisfied with the way the doctors handled her case, Ms Pritchard, who works at Horton General Hospital in Banbury, referred herself for an appointment with a gynecologist at the Stratford Sexual Health Clinic last February.
There she was diagnosed with cervical cancer.
But she was forced to wait an agonizing three months for her treatment to begin, by which time the cancer had spread.
Ms Pritchard began five weeks of grueling radiotherapy, chemotherapy and brachytherapy last April and was told that the treatment had been a success.
But in December, after undergoing more scans, she received the heartbreaking news that her cancer had returned and she was given months to live.
Despite the devastating blow, Pritchard was determined to stay positive and on the day of her terminal diagnosis, her boyfriend Tom Cronin, 35, popped the question.
In February, the couple, who had been together for 18 years, pronounced their vows in front of their immediate family during an emotional ceremony at the Stratford-upon-Avon Register Office.
Cronin, a geography professor, has spoken of her devastation and “indescribable pain” after revealing that Prichard passed away surrounded by her loved ones.
Ms Pritchard organized a crowdfunding campaign to raise £200,000 for a Potentially life prolonging medication, which is not available on the NHS.
The drug, called pembrolizumab, sold under the brand name Keytruda, costs £6,000 every three weeks.
However, the pharmaceutical company withdrew the day before the treatment began, her husband said.
Updating his supporters on his fundraising page, Mr. Cronin wrote: “I wanted to start this update with a huge thank you.
‘Katie and I have been absolutely blown away by the support from people we know, people we don’t know, people in the UK, people abroad, people with a close personal story to ours and people who just wanted to help.
‘This support has not only been obvious financial help, but it has made us feel as if we were not alone in our fight.
Unhappy with her treatment, Ms Pritchard, who worked at Horton General Hospital in Banbury, Oxon, booked an appointment with a gynecologist last February.
Earlier this year, Ms. Pritchard (pictured with Mr. Cronin and their children Cass and Percy) was diagnosed with lung, shoulder, spine and pelvic cancer and started palliative chemotherapy three weeks ago.
Pritchard’s husband (pictured with his former rugby team Stratford RFC) said she had left an “irreplaceable” space and that the pain of losing her “best friend and mother of my two children at 37 is indescribable. “.
‘In a period of constant suffering and sadness, kind words and support have often been the positive thing that got us through.
‘The last 18 months have been a roller coaster. In particular, the last 6 months have been a particular struggle regarding medical care, viable options, and emotional discomfort.
‘In January, the immediate prospects were not very good. Receiving a terminal prognosis and “months instead of years” meant that our lives changed overnight.’
He said their wedding day was “perfect”, even though it’s not how they originally thought it would be.
At the time they tied the knot, Prichard described the day as “perfect” from start to finish and felt “cancer was non-existent” during their celebrations.
Cronin added: “Having raised the money we needed to start treatment with Pembro, we felt we at least had hope.”
‘At least it would stop the cancer and prolong Katie’s life.
‘However, the day before her first treatment, we received a call from the consultant telling us that the pharmaceutical company had withdrawn her medications and we would not be able to start Pembro due to her chemo medications, timing and situation.
“This was, again, absolutely devastating and hit us hard.”
Cronin said his wife was accepted into another trial, but that option, too, was dropped when doctors agreed she was too unwell for treatment.
He added: “The extremely rapid pace of her illness meant we were often chasing our tails and trying to slow her down to no avail.
“At this point, all options had been explored and we were left with no possible alternatives.”
Prichard moved in with his parents to better manage his grief and get more support, while Cronin cared for his children.
As her pain and cancer progressed, she was moved to Warwick Myton Hospice.
Mr Cronin said: ‘Pain, mobility and fatigue became a daily struggle. We were able to spend a couple of hours a day with the children in their room or playing outside.’
There he was able to receive visits, parties, go to the pub, walk through the park and see his children at soccer training.
Cronin added: “Katie died surrounded by her family on June 17.
‘The space she has left is irreplaceable and the pain of losing my best friend and mother of my two children at 37 is indescribable.
“She was buried in Tysoe Natural Cemetery with a very small gathering of family and friends on July 7.”
Describing her battle with cancer, Ms Prichard previously said: “I’ll continue this for as long as my body can tolerate it or for as long as I live.”
‘I want to tell people how important it is to live life and have lots of adventures.
‘Turn off Netflix, go out and have fun. You need to live for now and not for the future.’
WHAT IS CERVICAL CANCER?
Cervical cancer affects the lining of the lower part of the uterus.
The most common symptom is unusual bleeding, such as between periods, during intercourse, or after menopause, but other signs may include:
- Pain during sexual intercourse
- odorous vaginal discharge
- Pain in the pelvis
Causes may include:
- Age: more than half of the patients are under 45 years of age
- HPV infection: which affects most people at some point in their lives.
- Smoking: responsible for 21 percent of cases
- Birth control pill: linked to 10 percent of cases
- Have children
- Family history of cervical cancer or other types of cancer, such as vaginal cancer.
Fountain: Cancer research in the UK