Family left devastated after ‘caring’ mum dies after missed diagnosis

Zoe Winters says 'we can't take chances' when it comes to cancer

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A family has been left heartbroken after the death of a woman who died just one week after her cancer diagnosis – despite visiting her GP since 2021. Sandra Willy-Nwankwo, from Nigeria but living in East London, died on October 6 at the age of 52 after being diagnosed with gastrointestinal cancer at the end of September. The carer had initially visited her GP in 2021 after suffering from sickness and heartburn, but was given medication to treat a stomach ulcer. 

After numerous visits to the doctors, Sandra was referred to hospitals for more tests where they discovered she was suffering from gastrointestinal cancer that had spread to a point of no treatment. 

Tragically, Sandra, who had recently adopted a one-year-old baby, died in Homerton Hospital in Hackney just one week after the shocking diagnosis. 

The family say they feel “let down” by the NHS after Sandra was misdiagnosed with stomach ulcers numerous times.

Speaking to Express.co.uk, Sandra’s niece, Cherie Amanfo, 24, said: “We want to raise awareness and hopefully prevent this from happening to others in the future.

“She had been throwing up constantly and was suffering from heartburn, so when she went to the GP in 2021, she was put on medication to treat a stomach ulcer but this didn’t work. They tried a few different medications but she was still suffering from the same symptoms.

“Eventually when she was referred to the hospital, they found out the cancer had spread and was incurable. Doctors were set to have a meeting the week she died on what care they could offer but she died before that could take place.

“It came as a huge shock to the whole family. We couldn’t understand how she had died within one week of being diagnosed. We didn’t have time to take it all in as it all happened so quickly.

“She will be greatly missed.”

Sandra’s family are left with questions as to how she could have been treated had the cancer been found sooner. 

They are hoping to raise the funds to transport her body back to Nigeria where she was born. 

Sandra was described as “bubbly” and “caring” and would “donate to charity regularly”.

Her niece continued: “We are supporting each other with words of encouragement. We are a very close family and she would constantly check in on all of us. Her adopted daughter is now being cared for by a family member.

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“She was just a really good person. We want to raise awareness because cancer is often caught too late where nothing can be done. If it was caught earlier, she may still be here with us or they could have prolonged her life to give her more time.

“Healthcare services say they are overwhelmed but they still have a duty of care and we feel they have failed us in this situation.

“She’s gone now and there’s nothing that will bring her back but hopefully we can prevent this from happening to others.”

The family are fundraising for funeral and transportation costs on GoFundMe. 

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