Fiona was very kind to share her CML story with us. She has been playing an active part in the campaign for access to drugs.

My DOG was actually responsible for the discovery that I had CML back in 2006. He walked up my front, as is his wont, and I felt an extraordinary sensation of rushing fluid and then forgot about it. A few hours later, I noticed a huge hard lump which turned out to be a bruise. I finally agreed, after months of infections, other funny bruises, stomach aches, swollen ankles, weight loss and exhaustion, to visit my GP and have a blood test. The diagnosis came the same day and my GP kept apologising for what she had to tell me. It was a double shock because my father had only died of Myeloma 4 years before. Basically she and I were expecting that I’d have to have a bone-marrow transplant and a haematologist’s appointment was duly arranged for a fortnight’s time. My husband and I had a holiday booked so as I thought it would be my last,I was determined to have it and put off seeing a consultant for a further week. We researched treatments on the net and discovered “Glivec” which is a “wonder-drug” if you happen to have the Philadelphia  chromosome and are not intolerant or resistant to it. I have been incredibly lucky as I not only achieved a major molecular response in about 2 years, but suffer no side-effects and am still on it.

I am deeply grateful to Prof. Druker for discovering the stuff, to the Haematology team at Cheltenham General Hospital and to my miniature poodle, funnily enough called Lukie(!) for the fact that I’m still here. But I’m only too aware that others are not so fortunate, develop resistance to CML drugs, and then need the next one along the line. It is totally wrong for NICE to deny these people Dasatinib as a first,second or third line of treatment on the NHS. They say it is available via regional cancer funds but some of these are more accessible than others, which leads to a post-code lottery as to who should have the treatment. It also means that consultants have to spend a lot of valuable time fighting for their patients to be able to have a drug which can give them a normal life and a normal lifespan as well.