Cancer treatment: Woman given six months to live ‘still here’ after drug trial

Farhana Badat was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013 before being told it had spread to her bones.

A woman who was given just six months to live after being diagnosed with two forms of cancer has praised the medical trial that she says has allowed her to live for seven years since her diagnosis.

Farhana Badat, a former postmistress from Newport, was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013, before being told it had spread to her bones in 2016.

She was initially told she may only have six months to live as the type of cancer she had was no longer curable and had started to become resistant to hormone therapy.

It led to Farhanna taking part in a trial called FAKTION through Velindre Cancer Centre in Cardiff in 2016.

Farhana says the drug has allowed her to see and experience things she could not have thought possible.

Speaking to ITV Cymru’s Wales This Week programme, Farhana said: “When I first came, I only had six months to live and now I’ve had seven years since then.

“I only had two grandchildren [then] and I now have six, so I’ve seen four born. 

“We’ve had time together, we’ve done holidays together, places we wouldn’t have been if I’d been more ill.

“Wonderfully with all the help from Velindre and God Allah, I’m still here, still enjoying life.”

Prior to taking part, patients are told they could experience unexpected or serious side effects and the decision whether to take part in a trial or not rests with patients.

Knowing there was a risk that an experimental treatment could harm a patient, Farhana’s husband, Salim, told Wales This Week the initial decision was a difficult one.

“The doctor gave us an option, chemotherapy or a trial,” he said. “She [Farhanna] said ‘I don’t want chemotherapy’.

“I was shocked. I said ‘think about it’ and she said ‘no I don’t want chemotherapy’.

“The beauty is the medicine they’re giving people now. I’m very proud of it, how it helps other people.”

The new drug involved in the trial is called Capivaertib, and it has been used alongside hormone therapy.

It has now been approved by the Food and Drug Agency (FDA) in the United States, meaning it could be rolled out to other patients across the UK. 

Professor Rob Jones is the co-lead on the trial Farhana is on.

Professor Rob Jones, Early Phase Cancer Trials Lead in Wales, who is also a consultant at Velindre overseeing Farhana’s treatment, said: “The trial effectively showed that there was a very significant improvement in patient outcomes.

“When I’m talking about that it’s about how long a patient’s cancer is controlled for and how long patients live for.

“By adding a new drug into standard hormone treatment, and combining it with hormone therapy, we found that patients could live twice as long when compared to patients who had hormone therapy and a placebo.”

The approval by the FDA means the drug can now go through the UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

NICE may then recommend the drug be used to treat patients within the NHS.

Farhana's husband Salim said the initial decision to partake in the trial was filled with uncertainty.

While clinicians and patients wait to find out if the drug and treatment will be rolled out, Farhana will continue to receive the treatment.

“[Taking part in the trial] is my only way of giving back at the moment,” she continued. 

“I feel like if you even help one person and if they get as much fun and joy out of life then it’s worth it in the end. 

“I'm very proud of it helping other people and if I’d gone down the normal route, I don’t know if I’d even be here today.”

Watch Wales This Week Clinical Trials: Life in the Waiting Room on ITV 1 Wales on Tuesday, March 5, at 8pm and later online.