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Coronavirus: Cancer patient Kelly Smith's family petition backed

Kelly Smith
Image caption Within weeks of Kelly Smith's chemotherapy being stopped mid-cycle her cancer accelerated radically, her father said

A petition calling for the end to cancer treatment delays forced by the coronavirus pandemic has topped 100,000 signatures in hours.

Craig and Mandy Russell set up the campaign after their daughter Kelly Smith, 31, from Macclesfield, Cheshire died from bowel cancer in June.

Her life was "dramatically" cut short by treatment delays, they said.

Government action is being called for after scientists suggested delays could cause 35,000 excess cancer deaths.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has insisted cancer patients have been treated as a "priority" during the pandemic.

'Too late for Kelly'

The online petition is part of Mr and Mrs Russell's campaign called Catch Up With Cancer with campaign group Radiotherapy4Life.

"The government and senior NHS leaders need to react to this national tragedy in cancer services," the petition states.

"Sadly it is too late for Kelly, but there's still time to save others."

Ms Smith, a beautician, was diagnosed with stage four bowel cancer in 2017 but her parents said her chemotherapy treatment was stopped in March, halfway through a cycle.

Mr Russell said she was "responding very well" to it but medics thought it an "appropriate time" to take a break because of the risk of catching Covid-19.

'Angry and very scared'

Within weeks the cancer accelerated radically, he said.

"Having that finality from a treatment point of view left her very angry and very scared," Mr Russell added.

Professor Pat Price, founder of the Radiotherapy4Life campaign, said: "We have to get cancer services up and running much quicker than the end of the year and boost radiotherapy services to play a vital role in catching up with cancer."

The DHSC said that during the pandemic cancer patients have been a "priority, with urgent and essential tests and treatments going ahead in a safe way for thousands of patients".

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