Benalla mother Kate Wagner is fighting to access a breakthrough melanoma drug that could save her life.MONIQUE FREER March 28, 2014 4:34am
Kate Wagner was diagnosed with stage four metastatic melanoma after the birth of her son Maclan in July.
‘‘I am incredibly frightened, every day I’m frightened.’’
Benalla mother Kate Wagner is facing scary statistics. She would have an 80 per cent chance of living if Australians had access to a new melanoma drug.
Without it, she faces a 20 per cent chance of survival.
‘‘A lot of the time it doesn’t sink in and I just carry on, and I love my kids and I laugh and I look forward to things but it’s always there, the worry never goes away,’’ Mrs Wagner said.
Mrs Wagner was diagnosed with stage four metastatic melanoma last July, one week after giving birth to her son Maclan.
After doctors found two tumours in her brain and two in her right lung she had two craniotomies and whole-brain radiation, in anticipation of beginning a clinical trial of the breakthrough new melanoma drug, lambrolizumab.
‘‘My brain was free of disease and I was all free to go on the trial in late December but my oncologist suggested we wait because things were going well in my chest and my lungs,’’ Mrs Wagner said.
‘‘He suggested that we wait on the proviso that there would be better trials coming out early in the new year, and we came to the early new year and things weren’t so great, and the disease was progressing and all of a sudden the trial had closed and there were no new trials.’’
US melanoma patients were granted compassionate access to the promising anti PD-1 drug earlier this month, but Australian patients may have to wait for more than one year for the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee to approve its subsidised use here.
‘‘I don’t understand why Australia is so slow in using drugs that are proving to save lives overseas,’’ Mrs Wagner said.
‘‘What is the TGA waiting for? While the patients are waiting we’re dying.’’
Without access to the PD-1 melanoma drug Mrs Wagner has started treatment on Yervoy, which has just a 20 per cent success rate.
‘‘(It) doesn’t offer great statistics at 20 per cent but I’m young and I’m healthy — so fingers crossed, I guess,’’ she said.
‘‘People with stage four cancer don’t care about side effects, they want a chance to live and I feel they’re denying us that.’’
After the anger of missing out on the trial Mrs Wagner began pursuing other drug trials in the US, however exorbitant costs made the trip prohibitive.
‘‘We ran into a brick wall, the costs in America associated with it are too extreme,’’ she said.
With no recurrence in the brain and no new cancer, Mrs Wagner’s concern is her lungs.
‘‘(My oncologist) said that everything is okay in my lung at the moment, but he said give it three months and things would start happening.
‘‘It’s not written in stone or anything — nobody can tell me my story and I feel good at the moment.’’
Mrs Wagner says something needs to happen and is calling on Federal Member for Indi Cathy McGowan to help her find ways to bring about change.
‘‘I just wanted advice from Cathy because I’ve never lobbied the government for anything before, I’ve never stood out there with a placard, but this just seems completely nonsensical,’’ she said.
Ms McGowan told the Ensign last week that she was only too happy to provide assistance to Mrs Wagner’s plight.
‘‘My job is to listen to what constituents have to say and advocate on their behalf,’’ Ms McGowan said.
‘‘It’s exactly what I’d dearly love to do with her.’’
Producers of movie to be filmed at Kialla having auditions tomorrow for extras.
Yarrawonga’s Bre Elliott played the most “consistent golf of her life” over three days to win the Fuccillo Kia Championship at Capital Hills by carding a 2-under 69 on the final day.
Heather Donaldson was re-elected president of Tatura Hospital Ladies Auxiliary at the annual general meeting on Thursday, which was attended by 33 people.
A SERIES of classes helping people find information on their ancestors will be held across Campaspe Shire this month.
FOOTBALL star Jake Edwards presented Rochester Secondary College Year 7 and 8 students with life-long lessons he has experienced first-hand.
Community workshop to consider issues to help form Campaspe digital strategy
Heather Stamp brings a long experience of the Salvation Army to Seymour.
Berrigan Shire Council have approved a development application for six more independent living units to add to Berrigan’s Amaroo Self Care Unit block.
THEY may be a familiar sight across the Heathcote district, but some of the much-loved birds in the region are in decline.
Cobram District Health will farewell two of its dedicated board members with the resignations of president Jennie Gould and treasurer Rod McLeod.
Deniliquin and district boasted two major winners at the Australian Sheep and Wool Expo at Bendigo from July 17 to 19.
The 160-year-old Tahbilk winery has been recognised as a leading Australian winery by prominent wine writer James Halliday.
The News magazines are online - read the high quality magazines in your time. Check in regularly for latest editions.
Riverine Herald's well regarded locally produced magazines. They're now online, so you can read them whenever and wherever you like.
Search for published and unpublished photos from McPherson Media Group newspapers and magazines. All our photos are available to purchase.
Place an advertisement in any one of McPherson Media Group's local newspapers.