'She had everything to live for': Woman, 27, died of cancer after struggle to see GP face-to-face

Jessica Brady's parents are fighting for change, reports ITV Anglia's Stuart Leithes

The parents of a 27-year-old woman who died of cancer after months struggling to be seen by doctors in lockdown have launched a petition to save other families from heartbreak.

Jessica Brady had fought to get a face-to-face GP appointment during the pandemic, but her parents said she was assured her symptoms were "nothing serious".

Her parents, Andrea and Simon Brady, from Stevenage in Hertfordshire, believe she may still be alive if she had been seen by a doctor in person.

Instead, the young engineer went through five months of virtual appointments which failed to detect her tumour until it was too late.

Jessica died in December after her late-stage liver cancer diagnosis.

Now, her parents are campaigning for GPs to be backed to diagnose young adults early in a petition being delivered to parliament this week.Mrs Brady told ITV News Anglia: “Jess had everything to live for and everything to hope for, and she didn’t have the opportunity to receive treatment.”

Jessica had “very little” face-to face-contact with GPs during the time she began experiencing symptoms, her mother said.

“Her age, the demographic group she belonged to, led to lots of reassurances that it was not something serious.”

The grieving parents said they hoped for government support to help GPs and other primary care services catch stage one and two cancer in young adults before it was too late.

Mrs Brady said: “The effects of people in their 20s, 30s, 40s dying as Jess did... it’s enormous because they are often leaving behind partners, young children. They’re working, they have colleagues and friends and that has a massive impact on our society."

Jessica Brady's parents, Andrea and Simon Brady, have launched a petition. Credit: ITV News Anglia

Health Secretary Sajid Javid recently said GPs should now be offering more face-to-face access, as Covid infections are no longer at their peak.

But the Bradys would like there to be more cancer specialists based in GPs' surgeries.

In October they delivered a copy of their petition to Downing Street.

It is due to be debated in Parliament on Friday.

Dr Jodie Moffat, head of early diagnosis at Cancer Research UK, told ITV News Anglia the full impact of the pandemic on diagnoses was yet to be fully understood.

Jessica Brady had everything to live for, her family said Credit: Brady family

The pandemic had had a "huge" impact on cancer services, she added.

"It's changed how people respond to symptoms, it's altered how we can see our health professionals, it's altered how they may respond to people who come forward to them and they too have faced challenges around what tests and services are available to them in order to manage their patients most effectively.”

Spotting cancer is “hugely challenging” and symptoms can be “easily confused", Dr Moffat said.

GPs needed all the support they could get to be equipped with the right knowledge and resources to catch cancer early, she added.

She urged anyone with symptoms that concerned them to make an appointment, then keep asking if they were struggling to be seen.

“If it's tricky, keep trying. Early diagnosis can make all the difference,” she said.