A mother from Storrington who launched a petition to get a life-prolonging drug back on the Cancer Drug Fund (CDF) has reached 100,000 signatures.
Jemma Peacock suffers from a rare form of cancer, Wild Type Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumour (GIST), which is currently incurable.
But with the help of targeted drugs she said she could live considerably longer giving her more time to spend with her family and watch her two children grow up.
However, the drug in question, Regorafenib, that Jemma claims would give her the most time and is the most effective against this form of cancer is to be removed from the CDF by NHS England after changes in funding.
The mum-of-two launched an E-petition earlier this year with the aim of collecting enough signatures to provoke a parliamentary debate on the issue.
The County Times reported on Jemma’s story last month when the petition had just under 10,000 signatures.
#100000voices has been about a community of ordinary people coming together to support those who needed a voice and it’s been wonderful and emotional to be part of something so special.”Jemma Peacock
Three weeks later the campaign has broken the 100,000 mark and now MPs will be forced to debate the removal of the drug in the House of Commons.
Jemma said the campaign had really taken off in the last couple of weeks with petition gaining 1000 signatures per hour, one every four seconds.
She said: “The whole campaign has been totally overwhelming. Not many people felt we could do it and there were times when it seemed just too big a mountain to climb.
“GIST cancer is so rare that hardly anyone had ever heard of it so it was hard to get the ball rolling.
“There was a turning point a couple of weeks ago when we seemed to be in every newspaper and celebrities started tweeting using the #100000voices hashtag. I was asked to appear on national radio and several other campaigners were on TV.
“In the last few days things have just exploded and we still have to pinch ourselves to believe what we’ve managed to achieve. There are so many generous, kind-hearted people that have helped online and behind the scenes. I simply can’t thank them enough.
“#100000voices has been about a community of ordinary people coming together to support those who needed a voice and it’s been wonderful and emotional to be part of something so special.”
Congratulations have been pouring in for Jemma and the team on social media.
But the 31-year-old’s focus has already shifted to the next challenge.
She continued: “Now we have to ensure that we get this issue debated and that when it is debated, the right decision is made. We’ll do that by contacting MPs and making sure they are aware of all the facts.
“We’ve already had a lot of help and support on social media from the likes of Dennis Skinner MP, and Labour peer Lord Philip Hunt has been fully behind the campaign from day one.
“Only this morning Sir Nicholas Soames MP announced that he’d signed the petition and had written to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to ask him to reverse the decision and reinstate Regorafenib to the Cancer Drugs Fund list.
“To have such cross-party support at this stage is encouraging and we will now be putting as much energy into lobbying MPs as we’ve invested in collecting these 100,000 signatures.
“We will make sure every MP in the country is aware of how important this debate is. They will have all the facts including expert medical opinion showing that Regorafenib allows GIST patients to live without their cancer progressing for considerably longer.
“There is clinical evidence to show that Regorafenib is highly effective in halting the progression of GIST cancers. There are so few of us GIST patients requiring Regorafenib the total cost to treat us all is actually relatively small. In fact, I find it impossible to imagine any MP voting against reinstating it to the Cancer Drugs Fund list because the benefits far outweigh the costs.
“Despite being extremely confident that Parliament will do the right thing we won’t be taking anything for granted. We will collectively be doing everything we can to ensure a high turnout for the debate. After all, this is about giving people quality time with their loved ones and I don’t think anyone should be putting a price on that.”