Dying woman is denied drug help

Christine Field and husband Phil.
Christine Field and husband Phil.
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A Long Sutton woman with cancer faces a race against time to have treatment which could prolong her life by up to two years.

Christine Field claims she is the victim of a postcode lottery after an application to East Midlands Cancer Drugs Fund for cash to treat her lung, bone and liver cancer was turned down.

Mrs Field (63), of Lutton Garnsgate, is being treated at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn where other patients from Cambridgeshire and Norfolk can get funding for similar treatment.

Doctors diagnosed Mrs Field with an aggressive form of breast cancer in 2009 which later spread to other parts of her body and she underwent chemotherapy which almost proved fatal.

She said: “I had a scan in July that showed the drug used in my treatment was working well.

“But I had two bad reactions to the drug and the specialist advised me not to have any more because another allergic reaction could prove fatal.

“Instead, I was advised to have treatment with a drug that I wasn’t allergic to.”

Mrs Field is having to raise almost £6,800 herself to pay for treatment using the drug, Nab-paclitaxel, after the Cancer Drugs Fund refused to pay for it, claiming other treatments were available.

“My specialist told me that I could have had it if I lived in Cambridgeshire or Norfolk,” Mrs Field said.

“There’s not supposed to be this postcode funding but it’s going on and it’s affected me.

“I’ve paid into the health system all my life and I feel I’m morally entitled to have this treatment.

“My specialist has only given me a matter of months to live, as opposed to a year or two if I’m treated with this drug, so I want to put pressure on the hospital to come up with the goods as soon as possible because I don’t have time to wait.”

Mrs Field’s fight has been featured on TV and radio in an effort to get the treatment she wants.

“When you’re fighting for your life, you’ll pull out as many stops as you can to get a result,” Mrs Field said. “Every day is important to me because the cancer is so aggressive and if I get the drug, I’ll shout ‘whoopee’!”

Dr Peter Miller, Associate Medical Director of NHS Midlands and East, said: “The medications funded by the Cancer Drugs Fund are on the basis of local clinical opinion and the panel has complete freedom in deciding which medications to fund and which not to.

“Any decisions taken by the panel, regardless of location, are clinically led and patient focused in terms of the best possible outcomes for the individual.”

A Queen Elizabeth Hospital spokesman said: “We are working hard behind the scenes to do what we can to progress Mrs Field’s treatment in the best possible way.”