A MOTHER fighting an aggressive form of breast cancer just a year after her husband had emergency quadruple heart bypass surgery has been denied a “life-saving” drug from the NHS.

Gemma Williams, 35, from Pontnewydd, Cwmbran, was told she had breast cancer in January after a lump under her arm “grew from the size of a pea to a golf ball in three weeks”.

“We thought we were going to have a bit more of a positive year after my husband underwent his emergency surgery in August,” she said.


But this was only the beginning of the Mrs Williams' ordeal.

Having undergone several rounds of “horrific” chemotherapy, radiotherapy and an emergency double mastectomy, her fight still isn’t over.

“After my treatment, they were still really worried the cancerous cells had spread elsewhere," she said.

“The tumour is still there, but luckily it hasn’t spread.

“There is a really high risk of it doing so again as I’m still young.”

In an effort to stamp out her cancer altogether, Ms Williams' consultant oncologist applied for Welsh NHS funding for Kadcyla – a US drug currently only authorised to treat a specific type of breast cancer. But the request was denied twice by the individual patient funding request (IPFR) - the organisation responsible for authorising non-approved drugs in Wales.

Now, she must find £45,000 to buy the drug she believes would prevent a relapse.

“Time is ticking, and I am really worried," she said. “With Kadcyla, if any kind of cancerous cell grew, it would go in and kill it.”

She said the process of “draining” the disease “literally felt like you were being stabbed in the side with a red-hot poker”.

Although her cancer hasn’t spread, doctors have said there is a high chance it may do given her young age.

In an effort to raise the cash she needs, friend Verity Cadwallader and her 'Pink Army' launched a fundraising campaign to pay for the drug - which has already raised more than £12,000 of its £45,000 target.

Mrs Williams needs nine months worth of the drug for it to work properly.

“The support I have had is incredible," she said.

“My husband is planning on walking all the way to Snowdon from my home – it’s a massive thing for him because he is recovering.

“I have made a pledge that if we make over and above, or for whatever reason I stop because I am ill, I will help any other woman who needs help with treatment.

“I could appeal the decision again, but I don’t have the time.

“I need to start the drug as soon as possible, otherwise it won’t be as effective.

“It’s very sad that I should be using this time to rest and recover, but I now need to prepare myself for another fight to raise the fund that I need for the treatment.”

A Welsh Government spokesman said: “Kadcyla is already used to treat one type of breast cancer.

“The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) is currently appraising it to treat a different type.

“Until NICE finish its appraisal, Kadcyla can only be accessed by making an individual patient funding request (IPFR).

“It is the doctor’s responsibility to provide clear evidence to support the IPFR.

“The NHS Wales Quality Assurance Advisory Group monitors the IPFR process at each Health Board and has not raised any issues with Welsh Government about Aneurin Bevan University Health Board.”

You can donate to her page at tinyurl.com/y258gyh4