‘Young mum’s cancer symptoms dismissed as post-childbirth niggles’

The death of a new mother whose terminal cancer symptoms were allegedly dismissed as post-childbirth niggles could now help save the lives of others.

By Sally Murrer
Thursday, 12th March 2015, 1:29 pm
Louisa and Graeme Foster with their two children
Louisa and Graeme Foster with their two children

The devastated husband of 35-year-old Louisa Foster, left to bring up two small children alone, is planning legal action which he hopes will stop the NHS from ever making the same mistakes again.

Graeme Foster has revealed how he knew instinctively something was wrong when his wife Louisa complained of back and abdominal pain shortly after their second child was just a couple of weeks old.

He said: “She was losing weight drastically, but the doctors seemed to put that down to breastfeeding. They thought her pain was due to the caesarean section she壇 had or an infection.”

“But this was Louisa’s second caesarean section, after the birth of our daughter in 2007 Louisa had been fine, so we knew these symptoms were not right.”

Louisa had a routine smear less than two years before conceiving her son and was told the results were normal.

“We went to Stoke Mandeville Hospital on several occasions, but each time Louisa was examined by junior doctors. One even said to go home and take paracetamol! I wasn’t confident they knew what they were doing” said Mr Foster, who lives in Granborough.

It was not until April 2011 that Louisa was finally referred to the right specialist at Stoke Mandeville hospital and an advanced cervical tumour was diagnosed.

Despite radical surgery and intensive chemo and radiotherapy, she died just over two years later.

“It was horrible to see my wife deteriorate and in constant pain in front of her children. She never complained and always had a smile on her face but inside I knew she was struggling”

“It has been a long, long haul and taken a lot out of us all, but now on behalf of our children and other women who may be going through the same situation I’m hoping to get to the bottom of what happened,” said Mr Foster, a freelance graphic designer.

“Our family is still struggling to come to terms with losing Louisa in such devastating circumstances. She had her whole life ahead of her and we were looking forward to watching our two children grow up. Instead her life was cut short”

“The thought of bringing up my two children without their mother was pretty daunting at first, but I’m so luckily to have such wonderful good natured kids, it makes my life a whole lot easier.”

“My son was so young he hardly remembers Mummy, my daughter is now seven so she has some memories of her Mummy. There are plenty of pictures around the house to remind them both. In time they will fully understand what happened but they are still both so young, its very difficult trying to explain what happened”

Mr Foster has now instructed specialist medical negligence lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to investigate the potential delay and treatment by Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust.

His lawyer Marcos Eleftheriou said: “This is a heartbreaking situation. In the couple of years before her death Louisa had made multiple visits to her GP and the hospital and we are investigating if more could have been done to spot the cervical cancer earlier.

“In this case we are still in the early stages of our investigation as her devastated family just want answers as to what happened during her care.

“They know nothing can turn back the clock, but this case is about highlighting any potential issues and lessons that can be learnt to hopefully prevent other women from suffering as Louisa did.”

Mr Foster said: “No young woman should ever have to go through what Louisa did, and no children should ever have their mothers taken away from them in this way.”

A health trust spokesman said: “We have been in contact with the Foster family in recent months during what has obviously been a very distressing time following the death of Mrs Foster.

“We have not yet received a letter of claim, but will continue to cooperate fully with any future process.”