A petition for cancer patients to get full body scans before being given the “all clear” has been signed more than 150,000 times.
The campaign was set up by Daniel Clark-Bland and his best friend Gemma Sisson-Moore who was told she was cancer-free only to later discover the disease had spread.
Sisson-Moore was diagnosed with pelvic cancer in 2017 and went onto have a course of radiotherapy and chemotherapy.
She was then given the all clear by doctors in January 2019.
But by August, she was diagnosed with secondary cancer in her spine, liver and stomach after having a private MRI scan.
Sisson-Moore died in July 2020 - aged 39 - after marrying her fiance Ricky while she was in a hospice.
Clark-Bland, from Leeds, promised he would campaign for a review of NHS practice to include a full body scan — not just the area where the cancer was originally detected — for most cancer patients before an “all clear” verdict.
He said: “The campaign hasn’t gone away, but we gave it a break to allow the country and Matt Hancock to focus on COVID.
“However, it’s still very much needed and it’s probably even more important now given the huge backlog Covid has caused for cancer care.
“We’re clear that the full body scan wouldn’t have stopped Gemma from dying, but it would have limited the suffering that she went through.”
Clark-Bland said she would not have needed spinal reconstruction surgery and could have fought the tumours while they were still small if she had had the scans earlier.
In her last years, Sisson-Moore campaigned for better NHS screening for all cancer sufferers.
In a message released after her death last July, she said her “suffering has now stopped” and that she hoped her story would push others to get thoroughly checked.
Watch: Coronavirus: Up to 50,000 cancers going undiagnosed due to COVID
She also wrote in a Facebook post: “If this is being posted it means I’ve finally died after weeks of clinging on far too long.
“Although I’ll be heartbroken to leave behind all my loved ones I’ll be so glad to get away from what this b****** disease has left me as.
“I really hope that by sharing my cancer story and petitioning for secondary cancer scans to be made mandatory I’ve made a positive impact, and even if only one person gets some help from this then I will feel like I have accomplished something good.”
Clark-Bland, whose campaign is being backed by Leeds West Labour MP Rachel Reeves, said: “I owe it to Gemma and her parents. I wanted to do it while she was alive so that she’d have something she could focus on, something that was positive and bigger than just her.
“And it’s fundamentally the right thing to do. It’s such a prevalent disease and it will shape a lot of people’s future healthcare requirements.
"What keeps us going is that it’s the right thing for the community."
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “Cancer diagnosis and treatment has remained a top priority throughout the pandemic, with 1.86 million urgent referrals and over 477,000 people receiving cancer treatment between March 2020 and January 2021.
“We continue to urge people to come forward to their GP if they have symptoms.
"As part of our additional investment in the NHS, an extra £1 billion is being used to boost diagnosis and treatment across all areas of elective care in the year ahead."
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