What started as an individual battle to get treatment by Pamela Northcott has grown and developed into a life line to other patients in the unenviable position of having to fight for access to a cancer treatment.
In 2005 Pamela was diagnosed with kidney cancer and told her treatment options were limited. She refused to accept this and began researching her options. She found that two new drugs Sutent and Nexavar were being used as standard treatment in the rest of the western world.
Along with her daughters Emma and Kate, she took on her local Trust and the Welsh Assembly Government and became the first patient in Wales to access the new cancer drug, Nexavar.
However the battle took months and by the time she got the treatment Pamela had just days to live – however she lived another 4 months on just a quarter dose of Nexavar. She died on August 12th 2007.
It was important to Pamela that other patients did not have to endure the same devastating experience she and her family had suffered. Kate founded The Pamela Northcott Fund the week after Pamela’s death to honour her Mum’s wishes.
“I was lucky enough to have an incredible Mum who was a true guiding light in my life. She was a genuine one off, a woman of huge character and humour. Mum was incredibly feisty; a trait I have inherited in spades and have put to good use in my fight for other patients. It was important to me to create something positive after losing Mum; my mission is for Mum’s name to become synonymous with a change of policy for access to cancer treatments in the UK today. I have been overwhelmed with the amount of people needing our support nationwide. The Fund has now been contacted by 1,200 cancer patients and has won NHS funding for over 250 cancer patients. I feel extremely privileged to be working with patients and families going through such personal tragedy. To offer them hope and support and to take on their battle for them is a responsibility that I take very seriously. I remain optimistic that the situation will change and the government will wake up and realise that access to new treatments is imperative to the future of our healthcare and patients. Be assured I will keep this issue high on the agenda and will not stop campaigning until cancer patients receive the right treatment at the right time.”
More than ever each individual cancer patient needs a friend - an experienced navigator in a sea of bureaucracy and chaos. Kate Spall has tirelessly served hundreds of patients to help them achieve optimal care within the NHS. Increasingly the attitude of those making funding decisions within the NHS is passive. If you don't ask you don't get. And how you ask has assumed immense importance to the chances of success. Patient advocacy has never been more important than in 2010. By her work Kate is enhancing not just the quality of care for those she helps directly but also the lives of many other cancer patients.