I am Mum to Laura Kerr who passed away on 6th May 2014. Laura was just 26 years old. Laura first reported symptoms in December 2013, when she suffered with shoulder pain and referred herself for physiotherapy. She received 2 sessions and was told by the physiotherapist that the pain appeared to be coming from under her rib rather than from her shoulder, and that she didn't need to see her again.
Laura went to the doctor with her shoulder pain and was referred for physiotherapy again. Laura started coughing and went back to the doctor to be told she had sinusitis and was prescribed antibiotics. She was upset as she felt that she hadn't been listened to.
On 6th April she went to a drop-in centre as she was short of breath, and we thought it was lucky that she saw a Nurse Practitioner who specialised in respiratory conditions. However, she also prescribed antibiotics and a ventilator to help her breathe and sent her home.
By the Thursday of that week Laura was desperately poorly so I contacted our doctor to say that I was taking her to A&E. They told me to take her to the surgery. A Practice Nurse listened to Laura's chest and said she needed an x-ray. We were sent to Buxton Cottage Hospital later that day. Laura could hardly walk by this point. I was really upset that she had to go through this and wished I had just taken her to A&E.
When we got home the surgery rang to say that Laura was to be admitted to Stepping Hill Hospital in Stockport with suspected Tuberculosis. Laura was seen by a doctor and he performed a scan. He saw fluid on her lung. It was the following Wednesday, 17th April when we were told that they were 90% certain it was lung cancer and that it had already spread to her liver and glands. The diagnosis was confirmed on 24th April and Laura was referred to an oncologist at Wythenshawe Hospital with a view to starting chemotherapy.
Laura had a consultation on 29th April but unfortunately she deteriorated that week. She was told four days later that there wasn't anything they could do and that she was too poorly for chemotherapy. She came home on 4th May and passed away in the early hours of 6th May.
I hope that sharing our experience will help make people aware that young non-smokers can also face lung cancer.