Camden cancer patient’s tumours shrink by half after ‘miraculous’ drugs not available on NHS
PUBLISHED: 11:51 07 February 2017 | UPDATED: 09:19 08 February 2017
The campaigner is ‘humbled’ by donations towards bowel cancer treatment, but he regrets that more cancer sufferers cannot access the medicine
Mo Haque, 34, has now raised almost £185,000 of a £200,000 target to fund his immunotherapy treatment, which is designed to “wake up” a patient’s immune system, but which he could not access on the NHS.
Mr Haque has had 12 cycles of immunotherapy so far, with the drug pembrolizumab, starting the treatment in April last year when he had raised around £60,000.
He was told that pembrolizumab was available for some cancers including melanoma, but not for bowel cancer.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is currently reviewing pembrolizumab to treat advanced bowel cancer and expects to issue guidance to NHS trusts later this year.
While he has been “really humbled” by donations from around the world on his Just Giving charity page, Mr Haque receives desperate messages from people who might benefit from immunotherapy but are currently denied access.
He said: “At the moment it’s hard because you are told you can pay for it if you have the money, otherwise you can’t have access and that ultimately leads to a progressive deterioration and death, with a lot of pain involved.
“It’s sad, I don’t really have the words to describe it.”
Mr Haque was told by University College London Hospital doctors that he would benefit from immunotherapy because of his specific genetic make up after two rounds of chemotherapy failed to work.
After Mr Haque was diagnosed with bowel cancer, doctors found that he had lynch syndrome, a genetic mutation which increases the risk of colon cancers. His father had died from bowel cancer.
Mr Haque, who used to work for Kingston University’s Student Union, was encouraged to start raising the money for the immunotherapy treatment by friends and mentors.
He set up a fundraising page and Keir Starmer, MP for Holborn and St Pancras, supported his bid with a Parliamentary reception, as previously reported in the Ham&High.
Describing how he felt as the donations came in, he said, “I was really humbled, I would wake up and check my emails and Just Giving would give a notification of everyone who had contributed - people who I don’t know, I will never know. Messages of love and support and I was overwhelmed. I look back and at times it feels like a miracle from when I started treatment originally and it had signs of spreading to my liver and spleen.”
Having had his latest scan last week, Mr Haque will review his treatment in May this year, with doctors deciding whether it is the right time to stop it, or whether to continue.
Any extra payment which does not go towards his own treatment will go towards helping others in similar circumstances and Mr Haque hopes to start a charity when he recovers.
To donate, visit Mr Haque’s latest Just Giving page: justgiving.com/crowdfunding/keepinghope.