Thursday, 10 September 2015

Me and secondary breast cancer - 7 years on

Author: Heather L

Today is the day.

Seven years since Mark and I sat in that consulting room at the hospital that is still all too familiar and was told that my breast cancer had spread to my liver and bones.

Seven years later I have forgotten what it's like to live without cancer.

Me and the cancer, it's like we've discovered the art of being in the same room at a party while studiously ignoring each other, although I don't think either of us can help the odd furtive glance in the other's direction every once in a while. I guess what I'm trying to say in a roundabout way is that while the shitty days have been beyond shitty, the good days mean so much more because of it, and I've discovered an equilibrium between those two extremes: I have found a way to live with cancer and be ok.

Seven years ago today I was pushed to the lowest ebb possible and found a way to become strong again because I didn't have a choice. But I was lucky that all the operations, IV chemotherapy and countless pills I have had access to on the NHS over the past 7 years have put me into remission.

Its not ok to take vital cancer drugs away from people when they're at their lowest most vulnerable point if there's the chance that drug will allow them to become strong again, whether that's for seven months, or seven years. Please, please, please don't think that the announced cuts to the cancer drugs fund are ok, because the NHS simply doesn't have the money to pay exorbitant prices set by the pharmaceutical companies. Its not about delaying the inevitability of death from cancer. Its about allowing cancer patients at their lowest point, like I was seven years ago, to become strong again. The government and the NHS need to find a solution where people with cancer aren't left in fear, not knowing which drugs will be available to treat them. And that's on top of trying to cope with living with cancer! I'm not writing this to ask you to act by signing a petition or donating money. If you've read the news about the cuts and thought, "well those hard choices need to be made because our NHS cant fund everything", I simply want to try and change your mind.

(Note from Sarah: This is a news article from 4 September 2015 which gives some context to the last part of Heather's post. Cancer Drugs Fund cuts 23 treatments)

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