It was a stressful Christmas for patients at a medical practice in the UK after they accidentally received a text telling them they had aggressive lung cancer.
The intended text the practice meant to send was a Merry Christmas message.
Askern Medical Practice sent the text message to people registered with the surgery in Doncaster on 23 December.
Sarah Hargreaves, who was waiting for medical test results, said she “broke down” when she received the text, only to be later told it was sent in error.
The group which runs the surgery said nobody was available for comment. The centre has almost 8,000 patients.
The first text told recipients they had “aggressive lung cancer with metastases”, a type of secondary malignant growth.
It directed patients to fill out a DS1500 form, which allows people with terminal diseases to claim certain benefits.However, about an hour later people received a second text telling them it was an error and it was meant to wish them a merry Christmas instead.
Ms Hargreaves said after she received the original text while she was out shopping, she “felt sick to my teeth and broke down”.
She added: “I had just had a mole removed and was awaiting a result from a biopsy and I had been to hospital as my smear test came back abnormal, so yes, I was very worried.”
Despite repeated calls to the surgery, she said she struggled to get through to speak to someone.
Carl Chegwin, another of the surgery’s users who, along with his mother, received the text, said he was left upset by the out-of-the-blue message which “was enough to break someone”.
“The first thing I thought was, ‘is this some kind of sick joke?'” Mr Chegwin said.
“It completely took me by surprise… It’s not often I go to the doctors, then out of the blue, it’s cancer. I’m sat there scratching my head thinking, ‘I do smoke, do they know something I don’t?'”
“They’ve just told people a few days before Christmas they’ve got terminal lung cancer. They can’t do that.”
The surgery sent a follow-up text offering apologies saying, “Please accept our sincere apologies for the previous text message sent. This has been sent in error. for the previous text message sent.”
“Our message to you should have read, ‘We wish you a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year.”