Mum-of-four dies after thinking her persistent cough was just long Covid

A mum-of-four has died after thinking her persistent cough was down to long Covid.

Alison Todd, 47, worked as a councillor in Surrey and had been a smoker since the age of 12.


Alison Todd was diagnosed with lung cancer after she brushed off her cough as long CovidCredit: Surrey Live – Grahame Larter

During the Christmas of December 2020, when the UK was on national lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, she noticed a cough.

However, she brushed it off and put it down to long Covid, which is a condition some people have developed after being infected by the virus.

She had been 45-years-old at the time, and just months later, said her world had ‘fell apart’.

In June 2021, she was told she had two years to live and was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer.

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A cancer at this stage means that it has spread to both lungs, into the area around the lungs, or to distant organs.

In the UK, there are around 48,500 new lung cancer cases every year – equating to around 130 each day, Cancer Research UK states.

One of the key symptoms is a cough that doesn’t go away.

Speaking to SurreyLive at the time, she said: “It’s devastating. It’s something you just can’t get your head around – I could have dealt with ‘you have cancer’ but ‘Stage 4, end of life’ knocked me for six. You just never think it’s going to be you.”

Medics had previously found a 5.5cm tumour in her right lung.

When further checks were carried out, it was also revealed that she had 10 tumours in one lung and a further 10 in the other.

She added: “There is no feeling like it, to find out you’re going to die. It’s the hardest thing you can ever go through. It was such a shock. My whole world just fell apart.”

In a statement, the local council announced her tragic death on September 22, and said it would be a ‘bitter blow’ to the community.

Those who worked with Alison, said she had been ‘committed’ to her local community.

She joined Surrey Council in 2017 and worked as deputy cabinet member for health between May 2019 and May 2021.

During this time she ran campaigns to help local residents stop smoking.

What are the lung cancer symptoms you need to know?

In the early stages of illness, there are usually no signs – but these symptoms can develop as the condition progresses.

The main signs to look out for are:

  • a cough that doesn’t go away
  • a long-standing cough that gets worse
  • chest infections that keep returning
  • coughing up blood
  • aches or pains when breathing or coughing
  • persistent breathlessness
  • tiredness or lack of energy
  • unexplained weight loss or lack of appetite

Alison previously said she had tried to quit the habit on numerous occasions, including when she was running campaigns for residents.

However, the day she was diagnosed with cancer, she said she ‘gave up very easily’.

The NHS states that most cases of lung cancer are caused by smoking, but added that people who have never smoked can also develop the condition.

Official guidance states: “Smoking cigarettes is the single biggest risk factor for lung cancer. It’s responsible for more than 70 per cent of cases.

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“Tobacco smoke contains more than 60 different toxic substances, which are known to be carcinogenic (cancer-producing).

“If you smoke more than 25 cigarettes a day, you are 25 times more likely to get lung cancer than a non-smoker.”

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