Mum who lives half a mile over Welsh border denied life-prolonging cervical cancer drug

A terminally ill mum is unable to access a potentially life-prolonging cancer drug because she lives half a mile over the Welsh border.

Joannah Houghton, who was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2016, has discovered that the medication Avastin could keep her alive for longer.

But the 47-year-old mum-of-two, who is regularly treated at the Clatterbridge Cancer Centre in Wirral, is currently not eligible for the drug because there is no NHS funding for it in Wales.

If Miss Houghton, from Chirk, lived 880 yards further north, or three minutes down the road in England, she would qualify for Avastin.

"I only need five hours of this drug in total to run alongside my chemotherapy", she said.

"I feel very angry about it, it's so unfair - this is playing with people's lives.

"But I'm fighting it for others both in England and Wales, and for those who are too afraid to speak out."

Joannah says she wants to be able to see her two children get married. Credit: Family Photo

Miss Houghton, who has a 22-year-old daughter and a 19-year-old son, says she cannot afford to move to England, and has been settled in north Wales for the past 26 years.

She added: "I got upset when I was told the NHS were holding back funding, but I can't fault Clatterbridge Hospital, they've been amazing.

"We are appealing the Avastin decision and I'm amazed how my battle has gone nationwide.

"It is tough times at the moment, and I'm having to chase round, and get all kind of forms filled in.

"I want to fight this postcode lottery".

Miss Houghton lives just half a mile over the Welsh border. Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

According to cancer charity Jo's Cervical Cancer Trust, Avastin does not cure cervical cancer, but can extend lives, on average by four months.

Miss Houghton, who lives with partner Tim, has been told the cancer has spread to her lymph nodes and lungs. She's been told she has five to seven years to live.

Miss Houghton added: "I haven't asked how many more Avastin could give me, but I've asked the question as to why my individual patient funding request was rejected.

"I want to stay as positive as I can and hope for the best."

Her case has been referred to the Pamela Northcott Fund, a charity which supports cancer patients who have been denied access to new drug therapies.

While women in England can access Avastin through the Cancer Drugs Fund, the Welsh Government's All-Wales Medicines Strategy Group (AWMSG) has recommended against it being routinely used on the NHS.

Miss Houghton added: "I can't thank Clatterbridge enough, the staff are amazing, nothing is ever too much trouble, and the cleanliness and consultants are fantastic."

A Welsh Government spokesman said: "The All-Wales Medicines Strategy Group has specifically examined the evidence for using Avastin to treat recurrent or advanced cervical cancer and recommended against its routine use.

"Where a treatment is not routinely available in the Welsh NHS, but a clinician thinks that his or her patient is likely to gain significant clinical benefit from the treatment, the clinician may make an Individual Patient Funding Request to the health board, on the patient's behalf."