43-year-old’s dying words: ‘I never thought that I would be considered nonessential’

Better Health & Wellness

WILDWOOD, Mo. (KTVI) – A Missouri family hopes their story about the death of their loved one to cancer will save others by raising awareness about other health threats impacted by the pandemic.

Joshua Hall recently died of cancer, but he was born with a heart condition.

“His original problem was his heart,” said his mother, Betty Hall. “He was born without a tricuspid valve.”

After his birth in 1977, his parents were told he would not live long.

“First we heard five years, then we heard 10 years, and then as things started improving and medications were improving, they were just saying he’s doing good,” his mother said.

Each year brought incredible family stories and opportunities for Joshua Hall to give back through his ministry and his mentoring.

This past spring, the 43-year-old knew something was wrong, but he could not see a doctor in person because of the COVID-19 shutdown. His sister, Julie Green, said he would not take no for an answer though.

“He lost over 35 pounds, and it wasn’t until he took pictures of himself, basically stripped down to his boxers and sent them to his doctors,” she said.

His family said he got an appointment too late, and he died from cancer.

“When they found the mass, it was 4 cm, which is in his large intestine,” Betty Hall said. “If they had found that four months earlier if they had let him in when he was trying to get in …”

She said her son told her two days before his death, “’Mother, I never thought that I would be considered nonessential,’ and he said how many more people were considered nonessential and didn’t get treatment ‘like me.’”

Dr. Bob Farmer, recently a medical director for an Illinois hospital group, fears there could be hundreds of thousands of people like Joshua Hall.

“While we focus so much on COVID — and we should — it’s deadly and it’s very problematic for especially the elderly and those with comorbid conditions, we must also keep in mind, at what expense,” he said. “and how does it balance with other health problems that Americans face?”

Farmer points to recent cancer studies revealing a drastic drop in screenings and diagnoses.

“Based on the numbers I’ve reviewed, those numbers are down 40%, which means between 700,000 and 800,000 people this year and probably going into this next year since COVID started are not being diagnosed,” Farmer said. “It’s not that the cancer’s not there.”

Mental health is also an issue, as highlighted by a recent World Health Organization survey.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted or halted critical mental health services in 93% of countries worldwide while the demand for mental health is increasing,” according to the survey.

Farmer said, “I fear that too many people are afraid to talk about it for fear of being vilified.”

He believes a solution is to constantly debate new ideas during this unprecedented time, while maintaining an open mind and compassion.

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