A Storrington mother is fighting to see her ‘children grow up’ after an announcement that funding for a ‘life-prolonging’ drug is to be removed by the NHS.
Jemma Peacock, 31, suffers from a rare form of cancer which is currently incurable but said with the help of targeted drugs she could live considerably longer, providing her with more time to spend with her family.
A recent announcement by NHS England has seen changes in funding to the Cancer Drug Fund (CDF) with one of the three drugs previously available to people like Jemma being removed.
She is now urging people to sign a campaign petition which will require MPs to debate the issue in the House of Commons.
The 31-year-old was expecting her second child when she was diagnosed with Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumour (GIST), a rare cancer found in the digestive system.
Jemma suffers from ‘Wild Type GIST’, which is the rarest form of the disease, and said the other two drugs available to her are not as effective against this form as the ‘Regorafenib’ drug, which is set to be removed. This third drug would have been used as her conditioned worsened.
She said: “I was absolutely shocked when I saw it had been removed. The two drugs I am on before I take Regorafenib are not as effective against Wild Type GIST. It is the best one that will give me the most amount of time. It is life-prolonging, it isn’t a cure but it can prolong your life.”
In response to the news Jemma, along with help from her friends and family, has launched a campaign to get the decision overturned.
She said the campaign was not only to help her but to help many others who will now be in a similar situation.
She said: “I could not live with myself if I didn’t try and fight to get it back. It is not just about myself, more than anything it is about getting it overturned for other people.
“If we could get the decision reversed it would mean I would potentially get to see my children grow up. It would mean I am more likely to see them grow up past ten years of age. I want to see them go to university and get married. All the things a mother should be there for for her girls.”
The petition gained around 1,400 signatures in 48 hours and if it collects 100,000 signatures before March 30 the matter will be eligible for debate in the House of Commons.
Many celebrities have also joined campaign including author Irvine Welsh, former England footballer Carlton Palmer, cricket commentator David “Bumble” Lloyd and singer Eddi Reader.
Jemma said: “I have been extremely lucky to have some very good friends and some lovely strangers who are taking this on with me. The response from people has been incredible. The response I have got from people who I have never even met has been incredible. I will be forever grateful even if we lose the battle.”
NHS England announced the drug will be removed from the CDF list on March 12, 2015.
In response to the problem they have stated despite the alterations to the CDF list patients currently receiving drugs previously funded by NHS England will continue to do so, regardless of whether it remains on the CDF.
They added: “Drugs which are the only therapy for the cancer in question will remain available through the CDF.
“If the CDF panel removes a drug for a particular indication, some patients may instead be able to receive it in another line of therapy or receive an alternative CDF approved drug.
“Clinicians can apply for their patient to receive a drug not available through the CDF on an exceptional basis.”
To sign Jemma’s petition visit http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/73911