Mother battling cancer 'scolded by NHS bosses' after she complained about treatment

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A mother-of-three battling terminal cancer has claimed NHS doctors gave her a scolding after she posted on social media complaining about her treatment. 

Harriet Wilson, 34, from London, was diagnosed with bowel cancer in May 2021 and was told the disease would likely kill her.

Tumours spread to her stomach and ovaries and she has undergone 12 gruelling rounds of chemotherapy to try and fight the disease.

She also had operations to remove cancerous parts of her liver and gallbladder.

In a post on Instagram on March 18, Mrs Wilson claimed she is receiving no home care from the NHS and can only speak to her doctor at pre-arranged times every other Friday. 

After complaining about the care at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in London, she said her oncologist hauled her into hospital to tell her not to post things on social media. 

But she says her condition has improved since she raised the concerns, with her doctor telling her she could be put forward for surgery. 

Harriet Wilson, 34, from London, was diagnosed with bowel cancer in May 2021 and was told the disease would kill her

Mrs Wilson pictured after 14 rounds of chemotherapy

Harriet Wilson, 34, from London, was diagnosed with bowel cancer in May 2021 and was told the disease would kill her 

Mrs Wilson has three children with her husband Dan: Darcey (centre), 14, Harry (right), six, and Nelly (left), four

Mrs Wilson has three children with her husband Dan: Darcey (centre), 14, Harry (right), six, and Nelly (left), four

THE SYMPTOMS OF BOWEL CANCER, WHICH DEVELOPS FROM POLYPS IN THE COLON AND RECTUM 

Bowel, or colorectal, cancer affects the large bowel, which is made up of the colon and rectum.

Such tumours usually develop from pre-cancerous growths, called polyps.

Symptoms include:

  • Bleeding from the bottom
  • Blood in stools
  • A change in bowel habits lasting at least three weeks
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Extreme, unexplained tiredness
  • Abdominal pain

Most cases have no clear cause, however, people are more at risk if they: 

  • Are over 50
  • Have a family history of the condition
  • Have a personal history of polyps in their bowel
  • Suffer from inflammatory bowel disease, such as Crohn’s disease
  • Lead an unhealthy lifestyle  

Treatment usually involves surgery, and chemo- and radiotherapy.

More than nine out of 10 people with stage one bowel cancer survive five years or more after their diagnosis.

This drops significantly if it is diagnosed in later stages. 

According to Bowel Cancer UK figures, more than 41,200 people are diagnosed with bowel cancer every year in the UK. 

It affects around 40 per 100,000 adults per year in the US, according to the National Cancer Institute.

 

Mrs Wilson said: ‘I did a video on March 18 on Instagram to talk about the way I was feeling because I didn’t have any professionals to talk to.

‘Afterwards I was called in to see the oncologist and the nurse told me I shouldn’t put stuff on my Instagram. They called me in to tell me off about my social media.

‘I had sleepless nights before I went in because I thought they would only call me in if it was something serious they wanted to discuss. 

‘I was shocked, I said “you’ve got a woman here who is dying, a mother of three kids and you have got me out of my bed and here to tell me off about my Instagram?”.

‘I want to run around naked on my Instagram I can, it’s free country, although if I was naked I might have to put some emojis to cover my bits.

‘I put in a complaint about that conversation with the nurse. I think the hospital were worried because the post got 50,000 views and they have been so awful with my treatment.’

In the original video, Mrs Wilson said she has experienced a rollercoaster of emotions being told different things by different doctors. 

She said: ‘I’ve got no care team now, I’m dying and I don’t even have a nurse, I don’t even have a doctor I can speak to.

‘All I’ve got is an oncologist who doesn’t take phone calls and he rings me every other Friday. 

‘I’m in so much pain now I’ve literally been looking online and asking family members what I should do because I’ve got nobody to ask in the NHS.

‘People ask me “what about my care team?” and I just say Queen Elizabeth don’t have a care team, they don’t care. I don’t even have a MacMillan nurse. 

‘Not once did the hospital or MacMillan nurses ever ask who’s got your kids or do you need help.

‘The hospital is that bad I saw a lady in chemotherapy and her children were sitting on the stairs waiting for their mum so I felt quite lucky that I have support from my friends and family. 

‘My mum and dad have moved in with us to look after me.’

Despite the scolding, Mrs Wilson says after raising her concerns her doctor later told her suspected cancer cells in her lung appeared to have disappeared or might not even have been there in the first place.  

She also joked if she survived she would need to buy some new clothes and shoes because she had thrown all hers away.

Mrs Wilson married her long-term partner Daniel, 35, on February 18. She said she planned her wedding in a week because she had been told she was dying.

The couple have three children: Darcey, 14, Harry, six, and Nelly, four.   

She said: ‘I have asked for my children to be tested because I have been worried about my cancer being hereditary but I’ve been totally ignored about that. 

‘As a mum I’ve tried keeping their lives as normal as possible, Harry going football, Nelly ballet and Darcey kick boxing.

‘Without the help from my mum, aunts, cousins and best mates I wouldn’t have been able to do it.

‘Dan proposed to me three years ago. We never really spoke about a wedding till I was diagnosed and Dan said he would love me to have his name. 

‘Our wedding was the most beautiful day. We got married in a storm, the weather was crazy but it didn’t stop us from doing our vows and chucking the most fabulous party with all of our family and friends.

‘My daughter Darcey wrote a beautiful speech and that made us all teary, she is my eldest and not Dan’s but he’s brought her up as his own.

‘She’s a real mini version of me.’ 

Mrs Wilson married her long-term partner Daniel, 35, on February 18. She said:'We got married in a storm, the weather was crazy but it didn't stop us from doing our vows and chucking the most fabulous party with all of our family and friends'

Mrs Wilson married her long-term partner Daniel, 35, on February 18. She said: ‘We got married in a storm, the weather was crazy but it didn’t stop us from doing our vows and chucking the most fabulous party with all of our family and friends’

She said she planned her wedding in a week because she had been told she was dying

She said she planned her wedding in a week because she had been told she was dying

Mrs Wilson, from New Eltham, in south London, said over the course of her treatment she had been told she at various times she did and then didn’t have cancer, or vice versa.

She said: ‘It’s been a constant battle, being told one thing and then another.

‘One moment I have lung cancer the next I don’t, the operation on my bowel is a success and then it isn’t. 

‘There have been days I wanted to end it all myself, I even looked into going to Switzerland for a lethal injection. 

‘I thought about taking all my tablets and not waking up but then I thought I still have fight in me and the fight is for my children and they need to know they must never give up and they are the reason I’m still alive now.’

A fundraising page has been set up by the Wilson family to pay for private treatments abroad. 

She said: ‘We are looking at every trial and every therapy to keep me alive as long as possible.’  

A spokesperson for Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust said: ‘We are unable to comment on individual cases due to patient confidentiality. 

‘Harriet will receive a full response to her complaint once we have completed our investigations and in the meantime we wish her all the best with her treatment.’ 

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