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.’’
Coca-Cola Amatil has confirmed it will be pressing on with its $100 million redevelopment of SPC Ardmona.
Beautiful weather greeted Tungamah residents for the 18th running of the Tungamah Lions Ten Thousand on Sunday.
When Keith and Marion Grumley and their growing family moved to Tatura on January 18, 1968, little did they know that it would be the start of a long and lasting connection to the town.
Mary and Molly Byrne are urging others to support National Bandanna Day today.
Rochester Rotary Club has celebrated its 50th birthday in style.
Sorting future of Campaspe pools
A theatre production with a difference is coming to Seymour.
Local athletes will go head-to-head with some of the best competitors from around the world in swimming and athletics in December.
District residents and visitors will be able to enjoy some of the region’s most beautiful private gardens on Sunday.
The 116th annual Cobram Show went off with a bang at the weekend, drawing in crowds from far and wide for two days of fun.
The annual Deniliquin Garage and Town Sale event is being held tomorrow, and more than 16 homes are registered for the bargain day.
Fifty new full-time jobs will be created at Tatura with a multimillion-dollar expansion of the abattoirs expected to be announced today.
Remembering Australian political giant Gough Whitlam who once called on Benalla police to stop then Treasurer Frank Crean on his journey up the Hume to phone the PM.
Discover unbelievable local deals from local businesses every week in the Goulburn and Murray Valley area with Leapon.com.au!
Search properties for sale or rent across North Central Victoria and Southern NSW. Visit your local website for local homes....
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.