Derbyshire mum-of-two in race against time to get expensive life-extending cancer drug which NHS won't fund

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A mum-of-two is asking for help to fund a £60k cancer treatment – her only hope to buy more time with her family following a re-emission.

Rachael Holmes, 51, from Clowne, was first diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) in December 2021 and underwent a series of intense treatments followed by a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery.

The mum to Callum, 20, and Carys, 17, was told her cancer had been cleared she had high hopes to start rebuilding her life. But in the summer of 2023, due to a BRCA 1 mutation, the cancer returned in both axillary lymph nodes and her lungs, resulting in a non-curable diagnosis.

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Rachel said: “My doctor, who works both for NHS and for a private hospital told me that the only way to buy some time is to use a drug that NHS won’t pay for in my case. He said he knows it works for his patient with re-emissions in the private sector, but it costs £60,000 per year. It was like dangling the carrot in front of me to say there is a drug available that can prolong my life but only if I can afford it. It’s so frustrating.”

Rachael Holme, 51, from Clowne, was first diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) in December 2021 and underwent a series of intense treatments followed by a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery. (Photos courtesy of Rachael Holmes)Rachael Holme, 51, from Clowne, was first diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) in December 2021 and underwent a series of intense treatments followed by a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery. (Photos courtesy of Rachael Holmes)
Rachael Holme, 51, from Clowne, was first diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) in December 2021 and underwent a series of intense treatments followed by a double mastectomy and reconstructive surgery. (Photos courtesy of Rachael Holmes)

The drug is named Olaparib1. In April this year, NICE approved it for primary BRCA cases on the NHS – but at the moment it isn't provided for secondary cases. Privately, it costs £5,000 to administer the drug every month.

Rachael, who runs a kitchen renovating business Dream Doors alongside her husband Mark, said: “When I heard about it I thought I will try my damn best to raise the money and get my hands on this drug. I'm doing everything I could possibly do to spend more time with my family. If I just sat and thought ‘It is what it is, I can't get the drug’ I would have never forgiven myself for not trying to stay longer with them.”

Rachael spoke to her friend Chris Marson, who helped her set up a GoFundMe Page – and it has raised over £7,000 in three weeks.

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Rachael said: “I’m thankful for all the donations, but I feel like family, friends, and ex-colleagues, have already donated what they could. So now it is up to strangers to help me. To anyone who will donate I want to say thank you for giving me a chance to extend my life and spend more time with my family. It would mean the world to me and them.”

Rachael was told her cancer had been cleared she had high hopes to start rebuilding her life. But in the summer of 2023, due to a BRCA 1 mutation, the cancer returned in both axillary lymph nodes and her lungs, resulting in a non-curable diagnosis, leaving her just months of life. (Photo courtesy of Rachael Holmes)Rachael was told her cancer had been cleared she had high hopes to start rebuilding her life. But in the summer of 2023, due to a BRCA 1 mutation, the cancer returned in both axillary lymph nodes and her lungs, resulting in a non-curable diagnosis, leaving her just months of life. (Photo courtesy of Rachael Holmes)
Rachael was told her cancer had been cleared she had high hopes to start rebuilding her life. But in the summer of 2023, due to a BRCA 1 mutation, the cancer returned in both axillary lymph nodes and her lungs, resulting in a non-curable diagnosis, leaving her just months of life. (Photo courtesy of Rachael Holmes)

Chris said: “Rachael has bravely confronted and overcome this cancer once before, and we believe that with this advanced therapy, she can successfully live with cancer over a much longer period. Please join us in our mission to prolong Rachael's life with her family.”

On top of the fundraiser, Rachael’s daughter Carys will be hosting a Christmas-themed charity event in Clowne community centre on Saturday, December 2, with Christmas cakes, ruffles, and mini jumble planned. All the funds collected will help to fund her mum’s medication.

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