I am a survivor

Hi my name is Lois and I am a cancer survivor.

I come from a large loving family who have always supported me in whatever I have chosen to do. I am mother to Jessie (12 yrs) who I have raised alone and I am immensely proud of her. I own my own home and have all the normal concerns that come with being a working mother and having a mortgage.

At the age of 42 I discovered a lump in my breast. I was terrified it would be cancer. It turned out to be a fibroadenoma and was removed without fuss. I felt great relief, I had been given another chance and lightening couldn’t possibly strike twice.

It was just over a year later when I discovered a cyst in my other breast had been overtaken by a large cancerous tumour. I was in shock for 3 months and was well into chemo before I fully understood what was happening to me. My treatment was long and hard and included 4 treatments of FEC (a course of chemotherapy), 8 of Taxol, 30 of radiation. It all took about 8 months. Most of that time I felt as if I was driving around in second gear unable to get to third, some days it was all I could do to walk to the letter box.

I was devastated to learn that the cancer was HER2 positive and I knew from the moment Herceptin was mentioned that I could not afford it. My family began planning how to raise the $95,000 quoted with suggestions of selling property and taking loans. I suggested public fund raising because I could not let the people I love take such drastic steps. I believed that the public should know what was happening.

The Glow Light Trust, which was formed by another woman in the same situation, to fund cancer drugs not funded by PHARMAC was a great help. We were overwhelmed by the generosity and support we received from the Manawatu Community and my employer EziBuy.

I completed the full 12 month course of Herceptin with no significant side effects. I am now two years post diagnosis, and very pleased to say that I am in good health. Although I am still taking it one day at a time my confidence is growing and Jessie and I are enjoying getting on with life. I am very grateful for all the treatments I have received, without them I may not be here today.

I feel very strongly that Herceptin, which was recommended by every one of the medical professionals I had come into contact with, should be included in every HER2 positive patient’s treatment and should be fully funded by our health system.

This made the decision to join the 7 other women and challenge PHARMAC in court an easy one. It is clear that Pharmac lack’s the integrity to be honest about its reasons for not funding this drug as they continue to say the evidence doesn’t support its use over 12 months when more that 30 other countries fund it.

Pharmac’s arrogance is astounding when they suggest that a large proportion of the rest of the world must therefore be wrong in their assessment of Herceptin and its benefits for women with HER2 positive breast cancer. I think PHARMAC’s continuing refusal to fund the 12 month treatment is very short sighted and disgraceful. We are worth it!!