A MOTHER-OF-TWO living with a rare form of cancer is urging people to sign a petition to reinstate a drug that she believes will prolong her life.
Jemma Peacock, 31, of The Crescent, Cootham, Storrington, was diagnosed with a gastrointestinal stromal tumour (GIST) in 2010 when she was 35 weeks pregnant with her second child.
She said her current medication, Imatinib, will stop working in the near future and she will be offered Sutant – a drug she believes will have little effect for her.
Instead Jemma, who works in Worthing, is keen to be prescribed Regorafenib, but she has discovered it has been withdrawn by NHS England.
Jemma said: “I feel shock, anger and distress all rolled into one but I am trying my hardest to focus on the campaign rather than the scary prospect of my life being cut short.”
NHS England withdrew the drug in January stating that after a detailed assessment of the drug and its benefits, Regorafenib ‘represented insufficient value for retention’.
Jemma said her research shows the drug is the most effective treatment to stop the growth and it can shrink GIST tumours.
She said: “This is why I am so scared about the prospect of not having access to Regorafenib when the time comes. It would cost me £3,744 for a four-week cycle which would be impossible for me to keep up with.”
GISTs are benign tumours in the digestive system that develop from soft tissues controlling the movements of the abdomen. According to Cancer Research UK, the rare cancer cannot be cured and is most common in people aged between 50 and 70 with an estimated 20 cases diagnosed in the UK each year.
Married Jemma has two children, Kacie, aged six, and Willow, aged four, and works at Marlin financial services in Worthing. She was first treated at Worthing Hospital and is now having monthly chemotherapy sessions at the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton.
Jemma has been pushing her campaign via Facebook and Twitter and urging people to sign her petition.
She has received support from family, friends and celebrities including Irvine Welsh, the author of Trainspotting.
She said: “It’s the support from total strangers and old school friends that has surprised me most. Everyone’s support has been incredible – I am truly overwhelmed and so grateful for social media.”
The petition has received nearly 6,500 signatures so far, but needs 100,000 for the case to be reviewed.
The petition can be found at epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/73911
A donation fund called Kiss for GIST has also been set up for Jemma and can be found at www.gofundme.com/ma2i0w