Desperate Kiwis with secondary breast cancer join campaign calling for more medicines

A group of Kiwis with secondary breast cancer have made a desperate video plea in support of a campaign for greater access to medicines to give them a better chance at life.

The moving video is part of the Breast Cancer Aotearoa Coalition’s (BCAC) drive to get thousands to sign an open letter to the Minister of Health calling for an urgent increase in funding for medicines.

BCAC’s chair, Libby Burgess, says the campaign launches on October 13, Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day, and highlights the distressing plight of women with secondary breast cancer.

“New Zealand women with secondary breast cancer are missing out on ground-breaking new medicines used widely overseas and they are paying the ultimate price – with their lives.

“Medicines such as Kadcyla and Perjeta have had dramatic results in extending women’s lives.  They are funded in Australia, but they are not publicly-funded here.  New Zealand women need and deserve these drugs too,” she says.

Ms Burgess urges New Zealanders to sign the open letter to the Minister of Health, Hon. Dr Jonathan Coleman, asking for an increase in funding for medicines at www.breastcancer.org.nz/meds

“We need as many people as possible to support the thousands of amazingly strong and brave women with secondary breast cancer, as well New Zealanders with other diseases, who need access to new medicines.  Please take action on their behalf,” she says.

Auckland’s Moana Papa has secondary breast cancer.  The mother of two features in the video and says even a few extra months can transform the lives of those with secondary breast cancer.

“I just want to have more time with my children and it’s so hard knowing that I may not have a future with them.  People need to know that these medicines do make a real difference. Even 14 months can make a difference and mean a child will remember their mother,” she says.

A North Shore mother of three young girls, Kelleigh Burkett, moved to Australia for a period of time to participate in a clinical trial in order to get access to new and innovative medicines not available in New Zealand. She says more needs to be done to help those with secondary cancer get the medicines they need.

“Something has to be done.  Thirty per cent of women with breast cancer have secondary breast cancer. Surely, we’re worth the extra money to extend our lives to raise our families, to work.  We can still contribute so much to the community,” she says.

Blockhouse Bay’s Rochell Adams is a mum to an 11-year-old son and says knowing she can’t get the medicine she needs is tough.

“I feel disappointed and sad that I can’t access the medicine I need in New Zealand, but I could if I were in Australia.  I just want people to think about what you’d want if it was your daughter or mother – access to these medicines could extend their lives and give them more years with their children and families.”

Hawkes Bay mother, Kirsty Webb, says a small increase in Pharmac’s budget earlier this year was not enough.  She says a major increase is needed, especially for cancer drugs.

“They need to increase the budget because as it stands currently, there are young women dying way too early and leaving their children without a mother,” she says.

Mangere Bridge resident Lynda Ames is calling on fellow New Zealanders to show their support.

“Please listen to us.  We all contribute to the economy and to society.  We’ve all got families.  We all work.  We just need a bit of help.  Please help us,” she pleads.

To sign BCAC’s open letter to the Minister of Health calling for an increase in funding for medicines, visit www.breastcancer.org.nz/meds 

BCAC acknowledges the support of the Karen Louisa Foundtion in helping to fund this campaign.

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