Coronavirus UK: Nurse’s final wish revealed after ‘long Covid’ turns out to be terminal cancer | The Independent

A nurse who worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic has been diagnosed with terminal cancer — after mistaking a persistent cough for a symptom of long Covid.

Victoria Puar, 46, says she caught the virus during a camping trip with her family in August 2021 and suffered with a horrible cough for months afterwards.

Believing the cough to be the result of long Covid, Victoria was finally sent for tests earlier this year – which ultimately showed she was living with stage four lung cancer.

The mother-of-two, from Castle Bromwich, West Midlands, says her only wish is to make memories with her beloved family, and urges anyone suffering with a cough to have it checked by a doctor as soon as they can.

Her NHS colleagues are also trying to raise money so that Victoria and her radiographer husband, Ben, 46, can take their children, son Joseph, 11, and daughter, Lydia, eight, to Disneyland in the time she has left.

The nurse said: “My life has been turned upside down. It’s crazy, just absolutely crazy.

“I’m hoping the chemotherapy and immunotherapy will give me a few more years. I’m praying for that.

“If anyone does have a cough, just please, please go and get it checked out and don’t just assume it’s just a Covid cough.

“I never thought for one minute that my cough would turn out to be cancer. I literally thought it was a Covid cough because that’s what you get told.

“There’s loads of people out there coughing and you just don’t realise. You don’t know if it’s something more serious so just get it checked out, please.”

Victoria, Ben and their two children were all forced to quarantine after the entire family contracted Covid-19 during a camping holiday in August 2021.

Ben and Joseph suffered badly with the virus, while Victoria and Lydia didn’t feel too poorly.

But, after the family recovered, Victoria returned to work at Birmingham Children’s Hospital as a nurse – and noticed she still had a cough.

She said: “Ben and Joseph were quite poorly but Lydia and I weren’t really that bad at all – I was just a bit weak and had a cough. I just carried on coughing.

“When I rang my GP in October 2021, they told me not to come right away because it was a Covid cough and you need good time to get over it so give it three months.

“They just kept saying it’s looking like long Covid, that’s all they would say, because nobody knows exactly what long Covid is or how to treat it as it’s so new.

“I kept working as I was getting negatives on my PCR tests and I wasn’t feeling poorly, I just kept coughing.”

Victoria says her GP dismissed her cough as being the result of long Covid. She continued to work on the frontline throughout the pandemic.

It wasn’t until around February 2022 – six months after contracting Covid – that Victoria was sent for a chest X-ray with her cough still present after her GP grew concerned over the sound of her breathing.

The X-ray showed inflammation on her chest and Victoria was given steroids and inhalers with doctors believing she could have developed asthma as a result of coronavirus.

The medication reduced the inflammation on her chest and Victoria was sent for another chest X-ray where doctors noticed a shadow on her left lower lung.

Victoria then underwent an urgent CT scan, a PET scan, an EBUS procedure, biopsies and blood tests to figure out what the shadow could mean.

The CT scan revealed a pericardial effusion where there is a build up of too much fluid in the pericardium which is the structure around the heart.

An echocardiogram on June 9 showed that Victoria was in fact in heart failure and the mother-of-two was rushed to theatre where they drained 410mls of fluid off her heart – more liquid than in a can of Coke.

The procedure meant Victoria could breathe more clearly but she was then ultimately diagnosed with stage four adenocarcinoma two weeks ago on June 14.

Despite the long wait for a diagnosis, she says she does not blame her GP or the NHS – as she too thought she had long Covid.

Victoria said: “They initially thought it was stage one but then found it had spread from my lungs to my heart and to a lymph node on my clavicle, so it is stage four cancer.

“Going through all these tests was horrible because I’m a nurse for children and I was told I had a pericardial effusion which we would rush our young patients to theatre for immediately to drain the fluid off.

“I seemed more worried about the fluid than they were because I’m used to treating children for it but I’m an adult so it’s a bit different as an adult body can hold more fluid.

“The inflammation was hiding the shadow behind it, so without the steroids reducing it, they wouldn’t have ever seen the cancer there. We don’t know if the inflammation was caused by Covid or the cancer.”

Victoria will now undergo two rounds of chemotherapy and one round of immunotherapy with her first chemo session this Friday.

Her colleagues at Birmingham Children’s Hospital have set up a JustGiving page last week in the hope of raising money so Victoria can take her children to Disneyland and make special memories whilst she can.

Incredibly, kind strangers across the globe rushed to support her and her JustGiving page raised over £8,000 in the first 48 hours of going live on the website.

As Victoria prepares for her first round of chemotherapy, she is urging anyone with a cough to go to their GP immediately and to not dismiss it as potential long Covid.

She said: “My life has been turned upside down. It’s crazy, just absolutely crazy.

“I’m hoping the chemotherapy and immunotherapy will give me a few more years. I’m praying for that.

“We’ve always wanted to go to Disney, and obviously, my time is now limited, so one thing we want to still do is make it to Disney after my treatment is done.

“People have been so generous on the JustGiving page. I don’t even know who some of the donators are, I wish I could thank them. I’m so grateful, I can’t believe it.

“If anyone does have a cough, just please, please go and get it checked out and don’t just assume it’s just a Covid cough.

“I hear so many people out there saying they have a Covid cough months after catching Covid. I hear it so many times and I just want people to get it checked out just in case.

“I never thought for one minute that my cough would turn out to be cancer. I literally thought it was a Covid cough because that’s what you get told.

“There’s loads of people out there coughing and you just don’t realise. You don’t know if it’s something more serious so just get it checked out, please.”

This content was originally published here.