My wife was terrified of breast cancer, doctors missed fatal tumour five times

Lesley Greenwood, 54, had been experiencing pain in her left breast for five months before finally undergoing a mammogram. The scan revealed a one-inch mass in her breast, but doctors assured her that there was no cause for concern.

She first began feeling pain in her breast in November 2015 and attended her GP. She then had a routine mammogram appointment which found a 2.2cm long lesion but the results came back as normal.

However, over the following six months, Lesley’s health deteriorated, and the pain intensified. Her breast became red and swollen, further indicating a serious issue.

Despite attending five more routine medical appointments, Lesley was only diagnosed with cancer after a significant delay. By this time, the disease had spread to her spine and liver, leaving her with a bleak prognosis. Tragically, Lesley died just months after her diagnosis.

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Following her death in May 2018, Lesley’s devastated family filed a complaint with the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust regarding her treatment.

The Trust acknowledged there had been a breach of duty in failing to correctly interpret Lesley’s initial mammogram and promptly recall her for further investigation. They admitted the six-month delay in diagnosing her cancer had significantly worsened her prognosis.

As a result of their complaint, Lesley’s family reached an undisclosed out-of-court settlement.

Lesley’s husband, Eric, said: “Lesley had a friend who had suffered with breast cancer and she was anxious about possibly developing it. When she started feeling pain she wanted to get checked out straight away.

“While the mammogram came back as normal, Lesley was still concerned especially as her pain was getting worse. Despite this nothing prepared us for the news she had cancer.”

Lesley was determined to fight her cancer head-on, but the chemotherapy took a toll on her. Eric expressed their hope the treatment would lead to improvement, only to receive the devastating news that the cancer had spread and become incurable.

Eric said: “We’ll always be upset by what happened to Lesley but as a family we were determined to at least honour her memory by establishing the answers regarding what happened to her.

“All we can hope for now is that by speaking out we can help raise awareness of the signs of breast cancer and the need for everyone to receive the best care possible.

“We wouldn’t wish what we’ve been through on anyone.”

Paying tribute to his wife of 38 years, refuse driver Eric added: “Lesley was an absolutely wonderful wife, mum and grandmother.

“She was loving, kind and generous. She lived for her family and loved looking after the grandkids.

“She was always keen to spoil us all and nothing was ever too much trouble for her.”

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Following Lesley’s death, Eric instructed medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate his wife’s care.

Solicitor Megan Walker represented Eric and the couple’s daughter’s Steph Bate, 30 and Caroline Comby, 31.

She said: “Eric, Steph and Caroline, had a number of concerns about the care Lesley received.

“Sadly, our investigation has validated those concerns with the Trust admitting worrying failings in Lesley’s care.

“Early detection and treatment are key to beating cancer so it’s vital that the Trust learn lessons from what happened to Lesley to improve patient care for others.”

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