A WOMAN who was refused life saving cancer treatment on the NHS because of where she lived, has spoken of her gratitude after a charity offered to foot the bill.
Sarah Hargreaves (38), who was diagnosed with two brain tumours in January this year - after two years battling cancers in her breasts and liver - was refused funding by NHS Derbyshire County for specialist treatment to be carried out in Sheffield’s Hallamshire Hospital.
But after hearing of her situation, Chesterfield-based charity, Cancer Relief UK stepped in and donated the £9,000 required to have the treatment privately.
“It’s incredible, it’s fantastic, that there are people out there who do this,” said Sarah of St Lawrence Road, North Wingfield.
“I was just stunned when I found out they were going to pay.”
Sarah wants to raise awareness of the charity, but also challenge the ‘postcode lottery’ that meant she was not eligible for treatment. Had she lived a few miles north in South Yorkshire, it would have been free.
“It’s supposed to be the National Health Service, but it doesn’t seem to be working like that,” said Sarah. “Can you imagine what it was like waiting on tenterhooks for nearly four weeks for Derbyshire PCT to make a decision? I shouldn’t have to fight for treatment when I am already fighting cancer.”
In 2009, Sarah was diagnosed with cancer in both breasts and opted for a double mastectomy and had her ovaries removed, which were also found to contain cancerous cells. The disease spread to her liver, and throughout treatment, she maintained a normal working life. But after being diagnosed with brain tumours, she was told she couldn’t drive - a crushing blow to her independence. Next week, Sarah will travel Leeds for the treatment she hopes will restore this independence.
Helen Knight, Head of the Individual Funding Requests at NHS Derbyshire County, said: “All of our patients can be reassured that we take the greatest of care over every single funding request we receive as we appreciate the impact that our decisions can have on our patients and their friends and families. Everyone in Derbyshire County is our patient, that is over 700,000 people, and we often have to make very difficult decisions as we do not have infinite resources.”
Steve Coupe, founder of Cancer relief UK said: “We don’t usually give grants to that amount, but we heard about her situation and tracked her down and I just said we would cover the costs.
“We knew she needed the treatment as soon as possible. We are in the unique position of having more money than people coming forward for grants.”