UK & World News
Cancer Mum In Drugs Battle To Prolong Life
A mother with terminal cancer is being forced to fund a drug that she believes would give her extra time with her young children after being refused it by a special government fund.
Lauren Dixon, 30, thought she had beaten breast cancer but in 2011 it returned and spread to her liver and spine.
Private insurance entitled her to 12 months of Avastin, which is not available on the NHS, and it successfully shrank her tumours.
But when her consultant applied to the Cancer Drugs Fund for more, she was told she was not eligible as she had already been treated with it before.
Lauren, from Upminster in Essex, said: "I never gave birth to two children to expect to leave them at such a young age, at six and eight, and I just think about what they are going to go through when I'm not there.
"How do you explain to them that something that potentially could prolong your life, you are not allowed?"
The drug costs £5,000 a month and a campaign has already raised £35,000 to pay for Avastin once Lauren's current chemotherapy is over.
But friends are angry that it is up to them to find the money which they have raised through selling bracelets, mugs and sweets.
Kelly Marsh, who has been friends with Lauren since she was four, said: "Lauren has not had anything from the NHS and still we are having to do all of this because they are not providing the drug that she needs.
"They could get it at a reduced cost as well but we are having to raise the money for the full cost."
The Cancer Drugs Fund, set up two years ago, is often a last resort for people like Lauren but criteria still need to be met.
So far it has helped 28,000 patients get drugs unavailable on the NHS either because they are still being assessed or are deemed too expensive or ineffective.
The fund comes to an end in March next year by which time a new scheme called Value-Based Pricing (VBP) will have been introduced.
Emma Greenwood, head of policy at Cancer Research UK, said: "This is promised to be a system for new drugs and it would attempt to look at drugs in a slightly different way and look at some of the societal value of prescribing these drugs.
"We are hopeful that under a new scheme ... there will be a more flexible approach to assessing these drugs and that might mean in some instances some of the cancer drugs that don't currently get through, especially end-of-life drugs, would be more suitable for going through the VBP system."
But for Lauren, the only option is more fundraising.
"However long I have, if I have an extra month, perhaps I have an extra year, those children will know I have done everything in my power to be there for them as long as possible."