Two deeply saddened sisters are of the opinion that their brother should have received more comprehensive care to prevent the spread of cancer in his body. They have chosen to share their story during Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month with the intention of preventing such a situation from recurring for anyone else.
Gareth Andrew Weston, a resident of Mountain Ash, passed away at the age of 37, leaving behind three children just four months after his initial medical appointment. His sisters, Hayley Civit and Emma Weston, believe that more should have been undertaken to provide assistance to their brother during the months leading up to his unforeseen death due to cancer.
The sisters asserted that Gareth received three different cancer diagnoses before a scan eventually revealed that the disease had spread throughout his body, leading to his tragic passing the following day.
Following the concerns raised by the family, both the Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board and University Hospitals Birmingham are conducting investigations.
At the beginning of the summer, the sisters explained that Gareth sought medical help for stomach problems and was subsequently referred to Prince Charles Hospital for a scan on Monday, July 3.
During the initial scan, a mass was identified in Gareth’s abdomen, marking the first mention of cancer according to his family. Subsequently, he was referred to Birmingham Queen Elizabeth Hospital for a biopsy, which led to a diagnosis of Ewing sarcoma, a type of cancer affecting bone or soft tissues, at the beginning of August.
The medical team recommended chemotherapy as part of Gareth’s treatment plan, and he was referred to Velindre Cancer Care. Emma expressed that there was a sense of hope with a treatment plan in place, and she believed that there might be a chance for him.
However, a few weeks later, Gareth received a different diagnosis, suggesting it could be red cell sarcoma, a condition that affects the tissues supporting and surrounding body structures and organs. Once again, chemotherapy was recommended.
Hayley, Gareth’s sister, mentioned that she spent days trying to gather information about the changing diagnosis but struggled to find the right contact for guidance. She reached out to various cancer centers in an attempt to understand where they could find the necessary help.
Towards the end of August, Gareth received another blood transfusion at Velindre, and during this visit, another consultant informed him that he had pancreatic cancer. They indicated that he was scheduled to begin chemotherapy for the first time in two weeks, according to the family’s claims.
Gareth conveyed this information to his sisters, who initially thought there might have been a misunderstanding. They mentioned that they had requested Velindre to provide them with a transcript of the consultations every time Gareth attended an appointment alone, but no transcripts were ever sent, and they had difficulty reaching anyone at the facility.
The sisters also emphasized that there was no mention of terminal cancer during these consultations.
A spokesperson for Velindre Cancer Centre expressed their condolences and stated, “Velindre always strives to provide high-quality, safe, and compassionate care to all of our service users, and we have already initiated the process of investigating Mr. Weston’s experience with us. We would welcome the opportunity to meet with the family to discuss in greater detail the concerns they have raised.”
Ultimately, Gareth’s pain became so unbearable that he began to have suicidal thoughts, prompting his sisters to contact the GP and request an ambulance.
However, Hayley and Emma contended that Gareth had been prescribed antidepressants, and the ambulance was canceled by the medical practice because they anticipated that Gareth would have to wait for an extended period “for hours” before being admitted to the hospital.
Hayley emphasized, “You don’t administer antidepressants to someone who is potentially facing a terminal illness – something we weren’t aware of at this stage. If someone is experiencing suicidal thoughts due to pain, the priority should be addressing the pain and the emotional distress.”
Emma further noted, “At this point, he weighed only 52kg, and he was essentially deteriorating in front of us that night.”
On September 3, Gareth experienced another collapse, and he was subsequently admitted to Prince Charles Hospital. Here, he underwent another CT scan, which revealed that the cancer had spread extensively. Gareth, a 37-year-old father, was scheduled to commence chemotherapy that following Monday but tragically passed away on September 4.
The sisters asserted that their brother experienced “constant pain” and had undergone a distressing and substantial weight loss during this period. They have filed formal complaints with the health boards responsible for Gareth’s care.
A spokesperson from Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board expressed their condolences and regrets over the family’s loss. However, they mentioned that they cannot comment on the specific details of Mr. Weston’s case as they are already in contact with the family and are actively investigating the concerns raised. They intend to have direct discussions with the family regarding these details.
“We want to reassure the community that, as a health board, we are dedicated to investigating any problems or worries brought up by patients and their families to enhance the quality of care and learn from the issues raised,” said a spokesperson for the health board.
A representative for University Hospitals Birmingham commented, “Our heartfelt condolences go out to Gareth’s family and friends as they grieve their profound loss. We are fully committed to conducting a comprehensive investigation into the concerns that have been brought to our attention.”
The sisters have also established a GoFundMe page to provide support for Gareth’s children, as he was the primary provider before his illness. If you wish to contribute to the fund, you can do so here.
By DIANA BUNTAJOVA