Cancer sufferer takes her fight for life to Senedd

A cancer sufferer fighting for survival will march to the Senedd today as she escalates her campaign to secure a potentially life-prolonging drug in Wales.

Beth Margetson will lead hundreds of supporters in a protest march across Cardiff Bay to the Senedd after the NHS denied her a course of Afinitor, which can cost up to £68,000.

Even though the disease has spread from her left breast to her liver and almost every bone in her body Mrs Margetson, who nearly died last Christmas, said she will not stop fighting until she secures the drug for herself and everyone else in Wales who needs it.

“What they are doing is morally wrong and unethical,” said the 49-year-old from Nottage, Porthcawl.

“They are saying I am not worth the money, but I will show them how much I am worth and my family will be with me tomorrow to show them how much I am worth.

“I have a lot of tumours in my liver. I have cancer in nearly every bone in my body, but I want to stay alive.

“I am not choosing death, I am choosing life, but I can’t do it on my own.

“The NHS in Wales doesn’t manage its money well. People get prescriptions for free paracetamol, but let’s have the NHS doing something that is meaningful.

“People from all over Wales have been in touch with me. That’s the strength of feeling that is going on – people are truly disgusted.

“I will keep going until I get that result. Wales are with me.”

Mrs Margetson, who helped to deliver almost 2,000 babies during her 15-year career as a community and hospital midwife, found a lump in her left breast in the summer of 2012.

She was diagnosed with breast cancer in September last year and, after it was discovered the disease had spread, her condition quickly deteriorated. She underwent a mastectomy and the removal of the lymph nodes from under her arm. By Christmas her condition was grave as the cancer had spread to her bone marrow, causing serious anaemia.

Between December and April Mrs Margetson, who is married to financial consultant Chris, 46, and mum to daughter Ffion, 15, underwent weekly chemotherapy sessions and she also had her ovaries removed in May.

A panel of oncologists at Cardiff’s Velindre Hospital have recommended Mrs Margetson, who now works as a part-time lecturer in health and social policy at Bridgend College, takes a course of Afinitor, which is designed to stop cancer spreading.

But it is not readily available on the NHS in Wales because it is not recommended by the National Institute of Clinical Excellence – partly due to cost. But patients in England can access the treatment through a special cancer drug fund.

Mrs Margetson applied to her local health board, Abertawe Bro Morgannwg, for funding for Afinitor, but was rejected.

She said she was told that her case was not exceptional and is appealing against the decision.

Mrs Margetson and her husband – who have already spent £40,000 of their savings on treatments and surgeries not available on the NHS – have also paid more than £3,000 out of their retirement fund for the first month’s worth of Afinitor tablets, which she began taking last week.

Thousands of pounds has also been raised by the community to fund further treatment.

A spokeswoman for Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board said: “While an appeal is taking place we cannot comment further on an individual case.”

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “While Afinitor is not recommended by Nice, it can be prescribed in Wales where clinical exceptionality can be demonstrated.

“It simply would not be correct to say that it is easier to access Afinitor in England.”

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