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WILDWOOD, Mo. – A Wildwood family hopes their interview about the death of their loved one to cancer will save others. They spoke out to raise attention to other health threats impacted by the pandemic.

Joshua Hall was a miracle baby.

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

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

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

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

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

“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.

Joshua’s family said he got his appointment too late and he died from cancer.

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

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

“While we focus so much on COVID—and we should—it’s deadly 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 somewhere between 700,000 and 800,000 people this year and probably going into this next year are not being diagnosed,” Farmer said. “It’s not that the cancer’s not there.”

Then there’s mental health. A recent health alert from the World Health Organization highlighted a survey showing, “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…”

“I fear that too many people are afraid to talk about it for fear of being vilified,” Farmer said. He believes a solution is to constantly debate new ideas during this unprecedented time, while maintaining an open mind and compassion – the same codes Joshua Hall lived by.

His mother, Betty Hall, says he told her this two days before passing away, “Mother, I never thought that I would be considered non-essential and he said how many more people were considered non-essential and didn’t get treatment like me.”