Highgate mum with cancer calls for life-saving therapy to be offered by NHS
PUBLISHED: 15:27 21 February 2018 | UPDATED: 15:31 21 February 2018
A mother of three with cancer forced to sell the family home to pay for treatment abroad has called for the life-saving therapy to be made available on the NHS.
Linda Allinson, from Highgate, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013. She went on to do all the things recommended by doctors with rounds of chemotherapy leading to radiotherapy. But the HER2 positive cancer strain spread and almost five years after diagnosis her options were fast running out so she began a search for alternative medication.
Anti-body drug TDM1 kept the cancer at bay for 18 months, but it then became resistant.
The former recruitment consultant, whose illness ended her career, tried every drug trial she could before opting for a cocktail of cancer drugs, perjeta, herceptin and capecitabine.
However, Mrs Allinson spent her life savings forking out more than £4,000 for each three week course because she did not qualify for perjeta on the NHS.
When that treatment stopped working she turned to immunotherapy – which reawakens the body’s own defences – available in Germany for a six figure sum, but only offered for some cancers in the UK, and not Linda’s.
Mrs Allinson said: “It’s terrible it isn’t available on the NHS. Our position on cancer survival rates in Britain is not good.”
And echoing former MP Tessa Jowell, who called for better treatment of cancer patients in a speech in parliament, Mrs Allinson added: “People shouldn’t have to go abroad. I find it really frustrating we don’t offer this. It all comes down to the cost and having to stick to rules which are not always best for the patient.”
Mrs Allinson, whose liver recently started to fail, said the system is failing patients with researchers not sharing knowledge of the disease.
She said: “If I want to find out about alternative treatments used abroad I have to look for them myself. It’s a full time job trying to stay alive.”
To pay for the immunotherapy Mrs Allinson and her husband have had to put their home up for sale. Family friends have also raised £78,000 towards medical costs and are staging a Ceilidh on March 9 at St Joseph’s Parish Centre in Highgate to help.
“The support is wonderful. I’m so grateful for it,” Mrs Allinson said. “We’ll miss our family home, but we’re selling for the right reasons. We’re hopeful this treatment will work and I’ll have more time with my family.”
An NHS England spokesman said: “More people than ever before are surviving cancer thanks to improved NHS cancer care, and this is being backed by investment of £130million in state of the art radiotherapy equipment.
“Immunotherapy treatment is already available on the NHS for some cancers and is being considered by NICE for others.
“Together with NICE we have also launched a new-look cancer drugs fund meaning patients will be able to access promising new and innovative treatments much quicker,” he added.