NHS ‘killed my daughter’ by refusing cancer treatment, says Hackney mother

Nadejah Williams with her mum Michelle Campbell-Cairns before she was ill

Nadejah Williams with her mum Michelle Campbell-Cairns before she was ill - Credit: Archant

A heartbroken mother has accused the NHS of “killing” her 23-year-old daughter who died after being turned down for potentially life-saving cancer treatment three times.

Nadejah Williams as a child

Nadejah Williams as a child - Credit: Archant

Former Shipwrecked contestant and face of Teenage Cancer Trust Nadejah Williams, 23, of Stoke Newington, lost her two-and-a-half year battle from a rare colon cancer at home on Saturday of last week – just days before she received an offer to take up her dream job in New York.

Nadejah Williams

Nadejah Williams - Credit: Archant

Following chemotherapy and radiation, she was told last year that the best chance of a cure lay in pioneering CyberKnife therapy, which uses precise pencil beams of radiation to treat cancers once thought to be inoperable.

But NHS England refused the treatment and a follow-up appeal.

By the time funding was approved six months later in September, her tumours were too big too treat.

Her mother Michelle Campbell-Cairns, 45, who works as a nurse at University College Hospital London (UCLH), said: “They killed my daughter. She was let down.

“I feel like a truck has run over my heart. I have nothing. Nadejah and I would share every single thing.

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Paying tribute to her daughter, Ms Campbell-Cairns said: “She was my angel. She died with her hand resting on mine. It was so perfect. I’ve been sleeping in the same spot of the hospital bed she died in.

“I know the hospital will have to take the bed back but I can’t bear to let it go.

“When I’d come home, the first place I would go was her bedroom. Even when she was sleeping I’d check to see she was OK – just like you would check a baby.

“She would always say: ‘I have cancer but the cancer does not have me’. She did not want to tell people. She never played the victim. She continued to live life to the full until she died.

“She only cried twice during her illness. The first was when she lost her hair, and the second was when she knew she could not have children.

“When she was born, I knew she was a special baby. She was a perfect, perfect child. She was very loving.

“She put everyone first. At school, she would bring home disadvantaged kids and would buy them uniforms.

“She shone brighter than any diamond and she would say ‘It’s me and you against the world’.

“Before she died, she told me to carry on and not cry. She wanted me to have more children. She said: ‘I want you to love again. I want you to be happy’. But I don’t think I could love anyone the way I love Nadejah.”

Ms Campbell-Cairns said her biggest regret was that the PR agency in New York where she had been interning when she first received the devastating diagnosis in October 2011 called days after her death to offer her a job.

“I would like to say a special thanks to her friends who are keeping me going and I am happy Nadejah did love and had the chance to experience love. A lot of people don’t.”

Boyfriend Ganiyu Sokunei said: “She was just the best girlfriend. She did everything to make sure I was happy. I felt more like I was married to her rather than just her boyfriend.

“I miss her so much. I’ve never had someone that close to me. There was nothing I could not talk to her about.”

Close friend Dwain Allen, 26, of Lewisham, added: “She was a loving person. She was full of life. All I would say is how much love she had.

“She was so considerate of other people.”

A spokesperson for NHS England, said: “Unfortunately we are unable to comment on individual patient cases, however our thoughts are with Nadejah’s family at this difficult time”

“The clinical decision to treat using SABR is based on whether it is considered clinically the best and most appropriate option to achieve the best outcomes for an individual or whether an alternative might be more appropriate.

“Patients from across the country can access SABR where there is sufficient clinical evidence that this treatment will benefit the patient. There is a national NHS England policy around the use of SABR for non-small cell lung cancer, however there is currently limited evidence for its effectiveness in treating other cancers.”