Ribble Valley cancer sufferer's fight for life-saving drug

A widowed pensioner says he is resigned to his fate after being told that the life-saving drugs currently being used to keep his lung cancer at bay will stop in June.

Monday, 1st April 2019, 3:53 pm
Updated Monday, 1st April 2019, 3:59 pm
Danny with his partner Linda.

Great-grandad Danny Maher, of Queen's Road, Clitheroe, was diagnosed with cancer of the tongue in 2007 just 14 months after his wife died.

"I had 20 sessions of radiotherapy and in March 2010 I was given the all clear," explained Danny (71), who used to live in Sabden.

However, at the same meeting that he was given the all clear, Danny was told he had a new cancer of the throat and, three weeks later, he had his voice box removed.

Danny Maher on Burnley Cancer Unit when he first started treatment.

After suffering all these health issues, Danny who now pushes a button on his neck to talk, then discovered on Christmas Eve in 2016 that he had terminal cancer of the lung.

"In March, 2017, I had chemotherapy but it made me so ill that I ended up in hospital with Sepsis for eight days," explained retired lorry driver Danny, who used to drive for Barnes and Tipping before working for himself

"In the May, I started immunotherapy. I weighed about nine stone when I started this treatment - I now weigh 12 and a half stone and feel really well - but they are going to stop the treatment in June and once it has been stopped it can’t be started again.

"My oncologist says he believes it’s the treatment that’s keeping me alive. I know that if I get it to carry on then everyone who’s on it will get the same as me which is fair."

Danny added: "I’ve worked all my life. I retired at the age of 68 and have never drawn any benefits so I feel like I’ve paid my dues in taxes and national insurance. Linda, who is my partner now, had a lung removed five years ago so I think between us we’ve had our fair share of bad luck. I’m resigned to my fate, but I hope that in the future folk have a chance of getting treatment."

Danny's partner Linda Bond said the immunotherapy treatment has been life changing.

"Before he had this treatment Danny could not get out of bed and had to use a wheelchair," said Linda. "With this treatment his quality of life has vastly improved and he can walk and doesn't need to use his wheel chair when he goes to the hospital or the supermarket."

Danny, who is a former secretary of Clitheroe Royal British Legion and used to be a regular at the club, has now contacted Ribble Valley MP Nigel Evans regarding the termination of his treatment.

"They've said that people can only be on this treatment for a maximum of two years, but this treatment is what's keeping him alive!" Linda said.

Currently these life-saving drugs are only available to patients for a limited time.

The drugs harness the body's own immune system to combat cancer and have seen patients, like Danny, who were given just weeks or months to live, survive.

However, there is still not enough evidence to show that the drugs will work for longer than two years, prompting some experts to call for the rules to be rewritten so patients whose lives have been saved by the new drugs are able to access them for as long as they need.

Determined to help Danny, Ribble Valley MP Nigel Evans has asked for the "immediate renewal" of his constituent's immunotherapy.

“I was delighted to hear the news in summer 2017 that Danny had received the immunotherapy he desperately needed, he was in a dire state of need and the therapy increased his quality of life dramatically," said Mr Evans.

"The two-year limit needs and urgent rethink in cases like that of Danny, where no other effective treatment is available.

"I have contacted East Lancashire CCG and Simon Stevens, chief executive of the NHS, to call for the immediate renewal of Danny’s immunotherapy.”