NHS administrator Anna Gmoch finished chemotherapy for breast cancer on March 12 2020, just as hospitals were beginning to implement Covid restrictions.

The 41-year-old, from Aberdeen, had been diagnosed with an aggressive form of triple negative breast cancer in October 2019, eight months after she first began to feel unwell with "awful fatigue" and upper back pain.

As the symptoms progressed, her left breast had become painful and in May 2019 she discovered what felt like a "flat hard mass".

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This ultimately resulted in a referral to the Breast Clinic.

She said: "I had my mammogram done prior to my visit at the Breast Clinic, and at the visit, I was still reassured that there was nothing to be concerned of, but I was sent for ultrasound scan. I was told then that they were going to investigate shadow in my right breast.

"I had fine needle biopsies done on both breasts at that time which confirmed that my left breast needed further investigation and a core biopsy was performed.

"Two weeks later, I phoned to ask for my biopsy results, and I was advised that the biopsy wasn’t clear and must get repeated. On October 8 2019 I was finally informed by the Breast Surgeon and Nurse that I have cancer – a very aggressive form."

Gmoch, who is married with a 22-year-old daughter, started chemotherapy in November 2019 - finishing treatment just as Covid brought all but the most urgent NHS care, including routine breast screening, to a standstill.

"At the point of my last appointment with my surgeon, I was advised that there was no date for my surgery," said Gmoch.

"He wasn’t able to tell me when and where it will take place, but I should be prepared that I could receive at short notice that it might happen."

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In the end, surgery to remove her tumour took place in April 2020 at a private hospital used by the NHS during the pandemic to keep cancer patients separate from Covid admissions.

A second operation at the same hospital a few weeks later removed leftover traces of the cancer.

In June 2020, Gmoch was told she was "cancer-free" but that, due to Covid restrictions, her radiotherapy could not start until August 25.

This was subsequently brought forward to mid-July after a doctor reviewed her case.

Gmoch said: "The pandemic had a massive impact on how the treatment was progressing, it was causing so much chaos and anxiety as no one knew what we were dealing with.

"Empty rooms, masks, distance within the clinics, lack of access to GP or being unable to see an oncologist or surgeon was causing so many stressful situations and made me feel lonely with the illness as most of the Cancer Support Centres were closed."

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Gmoch added that pressures on the system now mean it is "much harder to get help" from GPs and breast care teams than it was prior to Covid. 

She said: "I am afraid that people like me who went through cancer treatment with such an aggressive form of it, might get misdiagnosed if the cancer was to return."