It’s five years to the day since I was diagnosed with breast cancer, and it must also be five years since my heroine, Julie, was also diagnosed. Julie and I both had a rocky ride in the first few weeks, and each visit to the hospital culminated in yet more bad news until we were both told that our cancer had spread, primarily to bones in the hips and spine, and that it could not be cured. It could, however, be suppressed.
I remember saying that my priority was seeing my daughter through school, and I was told that this would definitely happen. So here I am, five years later, and my daughter has just left school and started university, and I’m assuming that, in four years’ time, I’ll see her graduate.
You see, the good news in my case is that the type of cancer I have can be controlled by Tamoxifen and other related drugs.
But spare a thought for those women who need drugs such as Kadcyla to treat their disease. From November, it is likely that Kadcyla will not be prescribed to any new patients because of its cost. So if, in the future, any woman whose cancer could be controlled by Kadcyla asks the question I did five years ago, she may not receive such a positive response: it is entirely possible that she will not live to see her children leave school or go to university because the drug she needs to prolong her life is being denied to her.
Which brings me on to a couple of other points: the other day I was privileged to attend a meeting at #Breast Cancer Now, and we discussed the fact that breast cancer is indiscriminate and attacks the young as well as older people; and also breast cancer manifests itself in many different forms. In fact, no two people in the room had had the same experience of it.
Just over five years ago I was yawning at the prospect of another pink and fluffy #Breast Cancer Awareness Month. But on 6 October 2010 that all changed and I began to realise that breast cancer is far from a “done deal”. Too many women still die from this dreadful disease and it is vital that work continues to develop affordable drugs to combat its more complex and aggressive forms.
In the meantime, please show your support for women who would benefit from Kadcyla by signing this petition.