When news happens get involved. Send your pictures, views and video to us by text and email
Cancer victim forced to sell home to buy life-extending drug
A TERMINALLY ill woman is selling her home to pay for a cancer drug that offers her weeks of extra life.
Svetlana Savrasova, of Weymouth, was diagnosed with stage three ovarian cancer three years ago.
She was told she had just a few weeks to live.
But following the diagnosis, Ms Savrasova has continued to row with Weymouth Rowing Club and to go ballroom dancing.
The Russian-born 51-year-old has been taking Avastin – a ‘miracle’ life-extending cancer drug and is now preparing to visit her son in Australia.
Ms Savrasova, who is living in rented accommodation on Weymouth Esplanade, previously sold a Picasso drawing worth £40,000, which she received from her former husband, to pay for Avastin, which is not available on the NHS.
Her home is on the market so she can fund further doses of the cancer drug. She is hoping to sell the flat in Hanover Road, Weymouth, for £100,000 to help her pay for the treatment.
Former Soviet journalist Svetlana has paid more than £6,000 for private treatment at Poole General Hospital, with each drip of Avastin costing £3,189, prolonging her remission from cancer.
She is calling for the drug to become available to cancer patients on the NHS as she prepares to pay for two more drips over the coming weeks.
Ms Savrasova said: “I have paid more than £6,000 for two drips.
“I want this money back. I should have this drug on the NHS.
“I know my condition is terminal. Avastin is a maintenance drug. There is no cure for my condition.
“I know that I’m playing for time. They say Avastin will give me four months. It’s given me 11 months. Every month passing, moving further and further from chemotherapy I feel better and better.”
Ms Savrasova is calling for a £6,000 refund from NHS Dorset for the money she has paid.
She said: “I know my condition is terminal but I just want to do everything I can to enjoy myself before I go.”
Ms Savrasova, who used to work for Dorset Police as an interpreter, said she wants NHS Dorset to negotiate for the drug from its manufacturers Roche.
Before buying the drug from the NHS she had 22 drips funded by Roche’s compassionate fund.
Ms Savrasova’s consultant oncologist Dr Richard Osborne has requested Avastin for her as ‘maintenance therapy’, based on evidence from a trial that it could prolong second remission from ovarian cancer.
In a letter to NHS Dorset’s then-chief executive Paul Sly, he wrote: “I would be grateful if you could explore whether there are any other avenues for funding Ms Savrasova’s treatment.”
But NHS Dorset health chiefs didn’t support the request.
Ms Savrasova’s GP, Dr Huw Llewellyn, supported an appeal against NHS Dorset’s decision not to fund the treatment.
Dr Osborne requested further consideration of the decision but a panel decided that Ms Savrasova was ‘not clinically exceptional from other patients’ for whom Avastin treatment ‘was not commissioned on the basis of limited clinical evidence’.
A SPOKESMAN for NHS Dorset said: “We are unable to comment on individual cases for reasons of confidentiality.
“However, we can confirm that we have been in regular correspondence
with Ms Savrasova for a number of years in relation to her treatment and have explained all decisions in full.”
A SPOKESMAN for Roche Products said the company is working with Nice – the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence – to secure a positive recommendation for using Avastin in combination with chemotherapy for women with ovarian cancer, as well as for women with recurrent ovarian cancer.
She said: “Avastin is currently available in England through the Cancer Drug Fund (CDF).
“This fund, which was set up in April 2011, provides access to cancer drugs, which are in the process of being reviewed or have been rejected by NICE.
“In the South West SHA, this medicine is approved for use through the CDF for women with ovarian carcinoma in combination with carboplatin and paclitaxel’
“It is available for first line advanced (stage IIIc/IV) ovarian cancer, either sub-optimally debulked at primary or delayed primary surgery, or not suitable for debulking surgery.”