When Philippa Hetherington found out in November 2020 that she had metastatic breast cancer that had spread to her lungs, doctors ordered up a lung biopsy to determine the type of treatment she might need. At the time, though, the U.K. was in the midst of a Covid-19 surge. She was told there was no way she could have a biopsy done because lung specialists at Churchill Hospital in Oxford, where she was being treated, were being redeployed to treat Covid-19 patients.
Ms. Hetherington eventually got a biopsy and is currently being treated with a type of chemotherapy which she says has a good likelihood of working on her type of cancer. But as a consequence of the delayed biopsy, she said she missed a window to enroll in a clinical trial that could have offered her treatment with immunotherapy.