A nurse battling advanced cancer has spoken of her fight to raise funds for private cancer treatment after being told she has pursued all options on the NHS.
Single mother Mussarat Nazir, from Bradford, has stage four cancer and needs £13,000 a month to pay for new drugs.
The 54-year-old, who has lost her father and both brothers to cancer in the past few years, has claimed she is determined to live to see her only son graduate university.
“I’m a fighter,” she said. “There are women who have beaten it. If they can do it, I can. But there’s nothing left for me on the NHS.
“We are told to go home and enjoy the days we have left. I want to be here. I want to make it. I want to have lots of years left.
“There are so many people crying out for help. The drugs are available, but the costs are so high.”
Miss Nazir, known to friends as Maz, was diagnosed with cancer in 2002. After years of back pain, which she was prescribed physiotherapy for, an optometrist picked up on a tumour in her eye.
After tests, it emerged she had both bone and breast cancer as well.
“It was such a shock,” she said. “I’ve already lost a father, then both brothers. I’m the last child. My mum is bed-ridden now - I can’t even see her now, she would be so worried. I’ve been on treatment for a number of years, but my options have run out.”
New, targeted immunotherapy drugs have helped others in Miss Nazir’s position, and she has researched a visit to a clinic in Germany which would treat her, but it could cost £100,000. She has now discovered the drugs are available privately in Manchester.
“The drugs are available in England, but you have to pay for them, at £13,500 to £14,000 a month,” said Miss Nazir. “It could be three months or five. I could be cured. I just can’t know.
“The drugs are there, but they can’t give them to us because they are so expensive.
“That’s it for me, without them. I will be left to die. I can’t do that. I don’t want my son left on his own. I don’t want my mum to lose a third child.
“The drugs are available, but the costs are so high. The same drugs are half the price in Mexico or Brazil, but I can’t get there. The NHS can’t pay for every person.”
Miss Nazir, from Shipley, is a nurse who has worked at Bradford and St James’s Hospital in Leeds, who took early retirement when she became too ill to work.
Her son, Adam Mahmood, 20, is studying bio-medical science at Newcastle and is due to complete his studies next year.
“He’s fighting it, but he’s scared,” Miss Nazir said. “He’s doing so well in education, and has worked so hard. I want to see him graduate.
“It’s only the two of us, we’re on our own. There’s been a lot of sadness, but I’m determined to be positive. I’m a single parent.
“I’ve got cancer. And I really need help. I’m desperate now.”
An online crowdfunding page has been set up by friends of Miss Nazir to help pay for the treatment.
To find out more, visit www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/mussarattreatment
NHS England has said the drug, also known as Bevacizumab, is not routinely funded for treatment by the NHS.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) provides national guidance and advice to improve health and social care, it says, making evidence-based recommendations on a wide range of topics.
A spokesman said: “We understand how difficult it can be for families in such situations,” a spokesman said. “At the moment this drug is not funded through the NHS for breast cancer as NICE has determined that it is not a cost-effective treatment. NICE are best placed to decide how this treatment compares to other treatments available and if it represents value for money.
“If Mussarat’s clinical condition is exceptionally different to other people with the same condition then NHS England has a process to consider her case, which her clinician can use.”