While studying for her BSc Adult Nursing degree at Swansea University, Catherine Jones noticed alarming symptoms in her sister, Emily Winterford, during Emily’s pregnancy amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Initially diagnosed with a thrombosed hemorrhoid and promised treatment post-pregnancy, Emily’s condition did not improve despite multiple hospital visits, leading Catherine to suspect a misdiagnosis.
Catherine, 32, from Pembroke, recounted her growing concerns and the moment she decided to take matters into her own hands. One evening, witnessing Emily’s unbearable pain, Catherine took her to the hospital. Due to Covid restrictions, she couldn’t accompany Emily inside but left a note with the receptionist expressing her suspicion of anal cancer.
Despite being told Emily was on the colorectal waiting list, Catherine’s persistence led to an escalation of the case. The next day, urgent biopsies revealed an 8 cm tumor in Emily’s anal canal, which had spread to her lymph nodes, reported Wales Online.
During this challenging period, Catherine balanced her demanding nursing studies, parental responsibilities, and support for Emily. She managed Emily’s medical appointments and cared for Emily’s children, Roxanna and Sapphire, aged one and six.
Tragically, Emily’s condition worsened, leading to her admission to a hospice in Llanelli, where she passed away at age 33. Determined to honor her sister’s wishes, Catherine persevered with her studies and recently read a card Emily wrote for her graduation, finding great comfort in it.
Now, Catherine is set to become the legal guardian of her nieces and is employed at Surehaven Pembroke Dock, a mental health unit. She credits her academic tutor, Sara Newell, and the university for their support, which was crucial in her completing her degree. Catherine’s experience has strengthened her dedication to advocating for her patients, ensuring they receive proper care and attention to prevent similar misdiagnoses and challenges her sister faced.