The husband of a mum-of-two, who died of breast cancer after failing to receive a referral from her GP, has spoken about her “devastating” loss as well as highlighting how crucial early diagnosis is.
Leonie Largue died on 3 November, 2016, at the age of 34 following a battle with breast cancer, leaving behind her husband, John, and two sons, Jack, 18 and Ryan,15.
John is speaking out Breast Cancer Awareness month is marked in a bid to underline the importance of early detection. Leonie first saw her GP in June 2014 after developing a small lump in her right breast, but tragically did not receive a thorough examination. She was advised it was a swollen lymph gland, and was turned away with no further referral.
‘The pain today still feels as raw as it did back then’
Seventeen months on Leonie from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne went back to the GP where the previous lump was found alongside a new mass.
She was quickly diagnosed with breast cancer and, despite intense treatment, died only one year after her eventual diagnosis. Her husband John, 42, has now spoken out on the importance of early diagnosis, and the heartbreaking loss of his wife.
He said: “It’s been six years since we lost Leonie, but the pain today still feels as raw as it did back then. She was so young and full of life before getting cancer, it was devastating to watch it take hold of her. For her to die so soon after being diagnosed was also incredibly difficult.
“She was the best wife and mum and to know that our sons will have to live their lives without her is unbearable. They were still very young when they had to deal with losing Leonie, and she’ll never see them get married or have families of their own.”
‘If the cancer had been found earlier, Leonie might still be here’
John added: “To this day, I still feel if the cancer had been found earlier, Leonie might still be here. But I know there is nothing I can do to turn back the clock and change what’s happened. It’s also important that cancer is found early, so please seek a second opinion if you need to. I really wish I had urged Leonie to do that; I feel it might have saved her life.”
After her death John instructed medical negligence experts at Irwin Mitchell to investigate his wife’s care, with an undisclosed settlement secured.
Leonie’s GP admitted a breach of duty in that they should have carried out a breast examination during Leonie’s initial appointment - but deny that earlier treatment would have avoided her death.
Rachelle Mahapatra, the specialist medical negligence lawyer who represented John after Leonie’s passing said: “Leonie’s death from breast cancer at such a young age has understandably left her loved ones heartbroken.
“John and their children, in particular, are continuing to struggle to come to terms with their loss. Cancer doesn’t discriminate; it can affect anyone, and it’s vital that it’s investigated and treated early to increase the chances of survival.
“While concerning areas in Leonie’s care have been identified during our investigations, people should still take part in cancer screening programmes and seek medical advice if they’re concerned.
“We can’t change the suffering that Leonie’s family have been through but we’re pleased to have secured this settlement which will help secure the futures of Leonie’s children and help the family access the specialist support they require to try and rebuild their lives.
“We join John in supporting Breast Cancer Awareness Month. By telling his story John hopes that he can help others by raising awareness of the signs of the disease.”