A Northamptonshire man who was told he has just months to live unless he undergoes major breakthrough surgery has launched a petition calling for a form of chemotherapy to be made available on the NHS.
Richard Davies, 36, from Overstone, has stage four colon cancer which has spread to other parts of his body. He was given a prognosis of just three to six months to live but has been put forward for major surgery if chemotherapy shrinks the tumours enough.
One type of chemotherapy – Avastin – is not routinely available on the NHS so Richard’s friends and family launched a fundraising campaign to raise £50,000 to help pay for the treatment, along with the hidden costs of cancer.
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Now Richard is in the process of setting up a charity – Bowel Bro – with the aim of raising awareness that Avastin is not available on the NHS; to challenge the current ruling; and to raise money for people who may benefit from Avastin but do not have the funds available.
He said: “How can we call ourselves a first-world country if we can’t fund this amazing treatment that targets tumours? If you’re able to pay, you can get it within two weeks. I had no idea this was the case until I started on this journey.”
Richard explained it is difficult to put a figure on how much he will need to fund his Avastin treatment as it depends on its efficacy and how many rounds he will require.
His friends launched a fundraising page and have organised a black tie ball, and the proceeds from both mean he is almost at the £50,000 target. However, he knows that not everyone can raise such an enormous sum of money.
Richard said: “I have been incredibly lucky to be able to raise this money, but the vast majority of people don’t have a spare £50,000.
“I have heard from lots of people who have been told they should be having Avastin but it’s not available to them. I feel like I can be a voice for this.”
Richard has launched a petition, calling on the government to: ‘Fund the drug bevacizumab (Avastin) on the NHS to treat colorectal cancer’. It has already been signed by more than 13,000 people, which is the point at which the government will respond to the petition.
The petition states: “NICE has previously reviewed Avastin (bevacizumab) as a treatment for colorectal cancer and recommended it should not be offered on the NHS. The drug’s patent has since ended, which has reduced the cost. We request that this drug now be made available on the NHS for all colorectal cancer patients.”
Richard says he is determined to continue raising awareness of colon and bowel cancer, despite starting a gruelling 12-week course of chemotherapy.
If the chemotherapy shrinks the tumours enough, he will undergo ground-breaking surgery at a specialist clinic in Basingstoke.
The treatment involves a 16-hour operation to remove evidence of cancer in the abdomen as well as all the organs with cancer that Richard can survive without. Part of the procedure also sees a warmed chemotherapy bath poured directly into Richard’s open chest and abdomen to try to eliminate any remaining microscopic cancer cells.
After being given his prognosis, Richard married his girlfriend of four years, Lisa Reid, in just five days and the couple have also begun IVF treatment.
To sign Richard’s petition click here.