02.03.2024

Father-of-four diagnosed with bowel cancer months after doctors dismissed his symptoms as anaemia

A ‘healthy and fit’ father-of-four is battling bowel cancer after bungling doctors dismissed his stomach pain as an iron deficiency. Matt Jones, from High Halden in Kent, visited his GP in May after he began suffering from extreme cramping, diarrhoea and nausea. But the 38-year-old’s doctor dismissed his symptoms as anaemia.

The self-employed painter and decorator was rushed to hospital later that month after he collapsed at home due to the pain, where hospital medics said he should undergo urgent tests.

But further delays meant he was only diagnosed with stage three bowel cancer six weeks later — during which time his wife gave birth to twins.

Mr Jones, who has lost four stone in a matter of months, has since undergone surgery to remove the tumour and is set to start chemotherapy.

Matt Jones, from High Halden in Kent, visited his GP in May after he began suffering from extreme cramping, diarrhoea and nausea. But the 38-year-old’s doctor dismissed his symptoms as anaemia

Matt Jones, from High Halden in Kent, visited his GP in May after he began suffering from extreme cramping, diarrhoea and nausea. But the 38-year-old's doctor dismissed his symptoms as anaemia

The self-employed painter and decorator was rushed to hospital later that month after he collapsed at home due to the pain, where hospital medics said he should undergo urgent tests

The self-employed painter and decorator was rushed to hospital later that month after he collapsed at home due to the pain, where hospital medics said he should undergo urgent tests

Mr Jones booked an appointment with his local surgery in May when he began suffering extreme cramping, diarrhoea and nausea.

After taking a blood test, doctors told Mr Jones he was suffering only with anaemia.

His wife Nicki, 37, who was pregnant with twins at the time, cared for him in the following days and weeks, during which he became so unwell that he was unable to eat.

But Mr Jones collapsed with extreme stomach pains at his home later that month.

When Mrs Jones phoned 999, she was told it would be a 10-hour wait for the next available ambulance as the service was ‘very busy. A call handler advised her to call a taxi to take him to William Harvey Hospital, which was 14 miles away in Ashford.

Bowel cancer can cause you to have blood in your poo, a change in bowel habits, a lump inside your bowel which can cause an obstruction. Some people also suffer from weight loss as a result of these symptoms

Bowel cancer can cause you to have blood in your poo, a change in bowel habit, a lump inside your bowel which can cause an obstructions. Some people also suffer with weight loss a s a result of these symptoms

He was eventually driven to the hospital by a neighbour, but spent 21 hours waiting in a corridor as the excruciating pain intensified further.

When he was finally admitted to a hospital ward, a consultant told staff to give him an urgent colonoscopy — a test to check inside the bowels.

But the procedure was not carried out for a further four weeks.

As a result, it was not until July 6 — six weeks after he was first admitted to hospital — that Mr Jones was diagnosed with stage three bowel cancer.

Around 43,000 Brits and 150,000 Americans are diagnosed with the cancer each year. Passing blood in stool, changes in bowel habits and tummy pain are the three main symptoms of the disease.

A combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy are usually required to treat bowel cancer. Around half patients survive for 10 years or more after being diagnosed.

Before Mr Jones’ cancer was spotted, his wife gave birth to the couple’s twins, Esme and Isla, the latter of whom has a serious heart condition which requires hospital treatment.

Mr Jones’ younger sister, Claire Henderson, 32, told Mailonline she is ‘disgusted’ with the way he was treated by the hospital and is in the process of submitting a formal complaint to East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust, the authority responsible for William Harvey.

She said: ‘I can’t believe they made him wait four weeks for the colonoscopy.

‘It was obvious that something very serious was wrong with Matt and that could and should have been fast-tracked.

‘The consultant wanted it doing urgently and made it clear it should be done while he was he was still in hospital the first time, or at the very latest within the following few days.

‘If they’d done that, his bowel cancer would have been diagnosed far sooner and he might have been spared a month’s continued agony.’

But further delays meant he was only diagnosed with stage three bowel cancer six weeks later — during which time his wife gave birth to twins

Mr Jones, who has lost four stone in a matter of months, has since undergone surgery to remove the tumour and is set to start chemotherapy

Mr Jones, who has lost four stone in a matter of months, has since undergone surgery to remove the tumour and is set to start chemotherapy

He has now set up a GoFundMe page to help pay household bills while he remains unable to work. The appeal has so far raised £3,700 raised of the £5,000 target

She added: ‘He was crippled by the pain he was in and the doctors just fobbed him off.

‘It was absolutely traumatising to watch my fit, healthy brother in so much pain for so long when it was avoidable.’

Mr Jones was re-admitted to William Harvey Hospital on July 11 where he underwent bowel surgery the following day to remove a significant tumour.

Mr Jones, who has lost almost four stone in weight since May, is now waiting for chemotherapy, which has been delayed due to an abscess he picked up following surgery.

Ms Henderson added: ‘They’ve managed to cut out what they think is the tumour but because it went further than the bowel, it’s going to need chemotherapy. Everything is in line for the treatment but where he’s lost so much weight, he needs to be fitter to handle it.

‘He’s not been able to do anything with the twins in regard to feeding and changing. We’ve all had to step in to support him and Nicki. He’s very thin and weak and has two older children aged — William, aged six, and Isabelle, aged four — so it’s very hands-on.’

As a result of his illness, Mr Jones has been unable to work since the beginning of May and as he is self-employed, has been unable to provide an income for his family.

He has now set up a GoFundMe page to help pay household bills while he remains unable to work.

The appeal has so far raised £3,700 raised of the £5,000 target.

A spokesperson for East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust confirmed Mr Jones did not have a colonoscopy until June 28 — more than four weeks after he was first admitted to hospital.

The spokesperson said medics gave him a sigmoidoscopy and a gastroscopy on May 26 to take biopsies ‘as part of the diagnostic process, and when those biopsies were examined by the lab they did raise concern and he went on to have a colonoscopy on June 28.’

Jane Dickson, chief nursing and midwifery officer, said: ‘I am very sorry to hear about Mr Jones’ diagnosis and his concerns about his care. We would welcome the opportunity to discuss these with him directly.’

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