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'Superhero' grandad dies of cancer after pandemic delayed diagnosis

A ‘superhero’ grandad has died of cancer after the first national lockdown delayed his diagnosis.

Andy Steels, 54, from Hull, East Yorkshire, raised the alarm about his symptoms but couldn’t book a GP appointment for three months during the first coronavirus wave.

After being diagnosed, he was told it was too late to start chemotherapy and he tragically passed away a day after his 54th birthday in August.

His heartbroken widow Jo is now pleading with the Government to not let cancer become the ‘Forgotten C’, as Macmillan estimates 50,000 people have now missed cancer diagnoses due to the pandemic.

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Andy was tested for Covid-19 when he was hit with a bad cough in March. The business owner tested negative twice a month apart and attempted to book an appointment with his GP to get to the bottom of the issue.

He was told he couldn’t get an appointment until June 15 – but his cough continued to worsen over time.

Jo said: ‘Andy was a workaholic, he always said he’d die with his boots on. Andy had a cough all his life, but this cough was different. We tried to get in to see a GP in March but couldn’t and he wasn’t getting any better.’

When Andy finally spoke to a doctor in June, he was referred for an emergency chest x-ray and and told he had developed stage four lung cancer.


Doctors said it was too late for chemotherapy as the cancer had spread throughout his body, including into his liver and kidneys. The beloved grandad died just six weeks after his diagnosis.

Jo said: ‘The medical professionals kept saying that if he’d got here quicker there would’ve been more that they could do to stop the tumour spreading.

‘He was too poorly for chemotherapy, the cancer had spread too far, by now it was in his liver and kidneys.’

Andy’s family has described him as ‘our superhero, a man who could make anything, fix anything, and do anything for others’.

Jo is now fundraising for Macmillan to help remind the nation that cancer ‘hasn’t gone anywhere’ as the second Covid-19 wave tightens its grip on the UK.

She has organised numerous fundraising events including a coffee morning, a charity golf day and a Christmas raffle.

Jo said: ‘Andy and I were always “go-to people”. We were fixers. We always had a positive state of mind and I want to keep that going through this fundraising for Macmillan.

‘Cancer hasn’t gone anywhere and families all over the country are losing people too soon because of delays to diagnosis and treatment. We can’t let cancer become the “Forgotten C”.’


Julie Hoole, Macmillan’s Strategic Partnership manager for Yorkshire, says it is ‘unbearable’ to hear stories like Andy’s.

She said: ’Cancer doesn’t stop for Covid-19 and neither can our health services. Macmillan is doing whatever it takes to support people with cancer and our exhausted NHS staff, but we need more. 

‘Governments need to promise every person with cancer that they won’t be forgotten and ensure cancer services are protected, come what may.’

Metro.co.uk has contacted NHS England for comment.

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