Deserving Fresh Hope

Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England), December 6, 2005 | Go to article overview

Deserving Fresh Hope


Byline: By Gayle Tomlinson

Campaign for vital drug help

Today the Chronicle launches a campaign to make a life extending cancer drug available on the NHS.

These six men are all dying from the lung disease mesothelioma because of exposure to asbestos dust during their working lives.

Now they are being denied the treatment they need. They have all been told by their doctors that they should be given chemotherapy drug Alimta.

Developed on Tyneside, Alimta is available on the NHS in Liverpool, London and throughout Scotland but the Northern Cancer Network has not recommended it for use here.

We are asking readers to back our campaign, Give Us A Chance.

Dad-of-two Arthur Tiffin is one of the reasons Northern Cancer Network must rethink its policy.

His son brought his wedding forward to February in the hope Arthur would still be here. He has been told he must have the drug within the next two weeks so he can live to see his son married.

Arthur, 52, of Walbottle, was exposed to asbestos spores during his work as a pipefitter and other engineering jobs. He now faces remortgaging his house to pay for the treatment.

The drug could help up to 60 dying mesothelioma sufferers a year just in the North East. But they are being forced to pay pounds 24,000 to get the drug at a private hospital.

Manufacturer Lilly says the drug costs just pounds 9,600 for a course.

During what is his last few weeks of life Arthur is being forced to battle for the treatment. He said: "I will not give up this cause until they make Alimta available on the NHS here.

"I have only got weeks. I will be forced to pay for this drug by next week as I will need to start the treatment then.

"I don't want to go to the Nuffield and pay for this. I am a proud Geordie. I have saved for years to keep my wife and children and now that money will be spent on this drug."

Arthur, who has a son, Steve, 28, and daughter, Laura, 21, and wife Cora, 52, worked for McNulty Offshore for 15 years and was once a GMB shop steward.

He said he never thought he would make it to Christmas but now he is concentrating on Steve's wedding.

The wedding was planned for August 2006 but has been moved to make sure Arthur will be there. …

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