Cancer patient battles drug postcode lottery

Barry And District News: DETERMINED: Lesley Brown (5780887) DETERMINED: Lesley Brown (5780887)

A BARRY mum has launched an urgent campaign to secure a life-prolonging drug enabling her to tackle cancer and witness her first grandchild’s arrival.

45-year-old mum-of-two, Lesley Brown pledged to do all she could to secure Avastin – a drug that can extend the lives of women with ovarian cancer – which is denied many patients in the UK in what is termed a postcode lottery.

Avastin costs £20,000 to £30,000 a year for each patient, but patients in other parts of the UK are eligible on the NHS.

Lesley, a former Vale Council play ranger and Oak Field primary school learning support assistant and Cardiff airport security guard, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer after attending hospital in February this year.

She had previously gone to hospital in November last year where her pain was thought to be a water infection.

In February, Lesley demanded an emergency appointment – after she was initially going to be treated for Diverticulitis – and blood tests and a CT scan revealed she had a tumour five to seven centimetres in size – Stage 3 ovarian cancer.

Lesley’s ovaries, womb, and omentum - which is known as the policeman of the abdomen for its role in fighting intra-abdominal infection – were removed during a six-hour operation at Llandough hospital on March 28,.

The surgeon had to leave 15 percent of the tumour due to its closeness to the liver and Lesley, who is due to become a grandmother in June, now faces six cycles of chemotherapy starting next week , over the course of 18 weeks, at Velindre – when taking Avastin would greatly improve the treatment’s outcome.

Lesley, of The Rise, Barry, said: “The consultant is gutted people have to go without the drug. It would mean a longer life I hope. My family would have me around a lot longer and I’m going to be a grandmother so I definitely want to be around.”

Lesley’s dad Leslie Woolcock died of lung cancer, aged 85, in September 2013 and her mum Alicia, 63, from pituitary cancer, in 2003.

Vale MP Alun Cairns said: "I will do all I can to support Mrs Brown. This is a terrible position to be in and sadly all too regular. This drug is widely available in England through the Cancer Drugs Fund and it angers me that the Welsh Government leaves patients in Wales without.

"Patients such as Mrs Brown just want the best treatment available. A National Health Service should mean just that. In Wales we are receiving a second class service in many health areas and it is simply not good enough.

"There was an independent report published some time ago saying that patients were five times less likely to get access to the latest cancer drugs in Wales. Changes need to be made.

"I know of some people elsewhere in Wales who have rented a place across the border in order to get access to cancer drugs. People like Mrs Brown and many others deserve better."

Vale AM, Jane Hutt confirmed she had taken up Lesley’s case with the Cardiff and Vale Health Board.

Family, friends and supporters are rallying to support Lesley. Stez Hughes has organised a fundraiser for Velindre, where he will be the MC. The Sea View Labour club event, from 7pm, on Friday, May 9 will feature bands, raffle, and an auction and Lesley will have her head shaved with her locks going to the Little Princess Trust – a charity providing real-hair wigs to boys and girls across the UK and Ireland that have lost their own hair through cancer treatment.

All are welcome and encouraged to wear a wig to the event. Raffle prizes would also be appreciated.

Alternatively, visit www.justgiving.com/lesley-woolcock

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