A Vietnam veteran who waited a year for a cancer screening at a Veterans Affairs hospital died of cancer Saturday, just five months after doctors diagnosed him as terminal.
“He fought cancer as hard as any battle he ever fought,” the deceased vet’s wife, Gayla Spivey, told Georgia outlet WMAZ. “He was the strongest, most courageous man I’ve ever known.”
After waiting a year for a colonoscopy at an Atlanta VA hospital, 64-year-old Norman Spivey was diagnosed in July with Stage 4 colon cancer, which had spread to his liver and lymph nodes. He had been receiving chemotherapy treatments twice a week, and doctors told the couple the therapy was having positive effects.
But he died five months after he was diagnosed, and his wife thinks an earlier checkup could have made a difference.
“I have no way of knowing that if he had had a colonoscopy a year ago, that the outcome would be any different,” Gayla told WMAZ in July. “But there’s always that possibility. A year? A year to work with it. You know? I mean, it may not have spread to the liver. It may not have spread to the lymph nodes.”
“It may be okay,” she continued. “But right now, it’s not. Right now, it’s not okay. It’s just not okay.”