Vet Who Waged Year-Long Fight with VA for Cancer Check-Up Dies


A U.S. Army vet who found out he had terminal cancer after he fought the Veterans Affairs Department in Georgia for more than a year to get a cancer check-up has died.

Norman Spivey’s delayed-treatment horror story surfaced amid a nationwide scandal of VA mismanagement that included long wait times for veterans seeking medical care and secret wait lists to hide the delays. In May, VA administrator Eric Shinseki was forced to resign amid calls for congressional hearings into the agency’s neglect.

Spivey, 64, became unresponsive just before midnight Friday and was pronounced dead Saturday, WXIA-TV in Atlanta reported. He served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War.

The station profiled Spivey in July, reporting that Spivey’s repeated attempts to schedule a colonoscopy at the VA hospital in Atlanta fell on deaf ears for more than a year. The colonoscopy revealed Stage 4 colon cancer that had spread to his liver and lymph nodes.

“I have no way of knowing that if he had had a colonoscopy a year ago, that the outcome would be any different,” his wife Gayla Spivey told the station back then. “But there’s always that possibility. A year? A year to work with it. You know. I mean, it many not have spread to the liver. It may not have spread to the lymph nodes. It may be okay. But right now, it’s not.”

The station said that for two weeks in July Spivey begged the VA to start his chemotherapy treatment. It wasn’t until the station contacted the VA that the treatment started. Spivey’s wife said the person from the VA who spoke to her said no one at the VA knew about the chemotherapy requests.

Spivey was receiving chemotherapy twice a month. Gayla Spivey said the treatments were working, but causing her husband’s body to weaken. He had lost 54 pounds and his appetite.

“He was a brave soldier up until the end,” she told the station Saturday.

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