Family's tragic loss of young daughter prompts 50,000 to sign petition

Stevenage Airbus worker Jessica Brady in smiling head shot

Jess Brady, a satellite engineer at Airbus in Stevenage, lost her life to cancer aged just 27 - Credit: Courtesy of Andrea Brady

A mum's petition calling on the government to improve awareness and diagnosis of cancer in young adults, following the tragic loss of her young daughter just three weeks after a shock diagnosis, has been signed by more than 50,000 people.

Jess Brady, a satellite engineer at Airbus in Stevenage, began feeling unwell last summer, but doctors failed for six months to realise she had an advanced and aggressive form of cancer. Jess was instead told she had long COVID, her mum Andrea explained.

"During the summer of 2020, when our world took on an eerie silence and everything but the virus stood still, Jess began to feel unwell," Andrea said. "Ever proactive in dealing with her health, she sought medical support, while also doing all she could to ease her increasingly debilitating symptoms.

"Despite her proactive steps, by the time Jess was diagnosed at the end of November, it was too late to treat her advanced and aggressive cancer."

Jess was told on November 26 she had Stage 4 adenocarcinoma - cancer that forms in mucus-secreting glands - and it had spread to her spine, liver, stomach, lungs and lymph nodes. She was given just weeks to live, and died on December 20. She was just 27 years old.

Andrea said: "Her dependency upon oxygen from the date of diagnosis meant she did not leave hospital or ever return home.

"During the three weeks she was in hospital, Jess taught us so much about grace, humanity, dignity and bravery.

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"We are obviously devastated by her death. Nothing could ever prepare us or can ever console us. Our world has been shattered."

Stevenage Airbus worker and cancer victim Jess Brady smiling

Jess was only diagnosed with cancer three weeks before she passed away - Credit: Courtesy of Andrea Brady

Determined her daughter's death will not be in vain, Andrea, backed by her family, has started a petition asking Health Secretary Matt Hancock and the Department of Health and Social Care to improve the awareness and diagnosis of cancer in young adults. It has so far been signed by more than 50,000 people, calling for an awareness campaign, ring-fenced funding to allow GPs to refer patients with increased urgency, and more specialist staff and equipment at hospitals to make swifter diagnoses.

Andrea added: "Adults aged 25 to 49 contribute around a 10th of all new cancer cases, with double the incidents in females than males. Currently this age group is not prioritised, although many cancers are aggressive and require immediate treatment. They are often ignored - too young to be deemed at serious risk - and COVID is undoubtedly exacerbating the situation.

"This government must ensure no more young lives are tragically and unnecessarily lost."

Stevenage Airbus worker Jess Brady smiling to camera

A petition started in memory of Jess has been signed by more than 50,000 people - Credit: Courtesy of Andrea Brady

Jess' family is also raising money to help facilitate cancer research and provide support for young adult cancer patients. One of the four beneficiaries includes the Acute Medical Unit at Stevenage's Lister Hospital, where Jess spent her final weeks.

Andrea said: "Jess radiated kindness and positivity. She was gentle, funny, courageous and loving. Without question, a beautiful person inside and out.

"Jess loved so many things, like walking in the woods, pink blossom on trees, delicious cakes and herbal teas, preparing travel itineraries, lighting fragrant candles, relaxing baths, fairy lights, Persian cats, films, books and musicals.

"She was undoubtedly a precious gift.

"It is so important to us that Jess is remembered and she continues to make a difference. She was passionate about raising awareness.

"In trying to make sense of what has happened, we recognise that Jess’ young age was a major stumbling block in achieving an accurate diagnosis.

"Our unexpected journey with Jess has led us to meet some wonderful people. It has also highlighted the need for more support, funding and research."

If you would like to sign the online petition calling on the government to improve awareness and diagnosis of cancer in young adults, visit http://chng.it/KQbRyvfz8V.

To make a charitable donation in memory of Jess and in support of Lister Hospital's Acute Medical Unit, Cancer Research UK, CLIC Sargent and CUP - cancer of unknown primary - research at University College London Hospitals, visit justgiving.com/crowdfunding/andrea-brady.

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