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 after the “heart-breaking” news was confirmed, the family’s “tough year” continued.

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

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

“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.”

It’s why her consultant oncologist applied for Welsh NHS funding for Kadcyla – a US drug currently only authorised to treat a specific type of breast cancer, different to Mrs Williams’.

The request was denied twice by the individual patient funding request (IPFR).

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

“Time is ticking, and I am really worried.

“With Kadcyla, if any kind of cancerous cell grew, it would go in and kill it.”

During her first rounds of chemotherapy, which she started just two weeks after the diagnosis, she recalled not “being able to stop vomiting”.

“My husband had to call a doctor he was so concerned.

“I don’t like to just sit back and do nothing.

“I am a go-getter and I always tried to be positive and have a good mindset, but it was difficult for me being so exhausted.”


Her skin also blistered.

“That was really painful.

“I was just watching the skin on my arm burn and bubble from the inside out.”

Before her chemotherapy, she cut off 14 inches of her hair and donated it to the Little Princess Trust – which make wigs for young children with cancer.

She then had her right breast removed and an implant placed in – on the same day as her daughter’s 16th birthday.

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

“I couldn’t breathe.

“Because I am so slim, there was no fat between my ribs kind of cushioning the draining.”

Ultimately, her body rejected the breast reconstruction after “fluids” leaked, pausing her radiotherapy - doctors had to perform an emergency full mastectomy.

The cancer hasn’t spread, but there is a high chance it may do given her young age.

Nearly £11,000 has been donated to her fundraising campaign so far, orchestrated by friend Verity Cadwallader and her “Pink Army” – enough for four rounds of the drug.

She needs 9 months’ worth of cycle for it to work properly.

“The support I have had is incredible.

“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 here. Any local businesses looking to donate to a raffle are asked to also get in touch.