Dying Edinburgh mum will get more time thanks to cancer drug

Alison Tait and her daughter Ellen at home last month. Picture: TSPL
Alison Tait and her daughter Ellen at home last month. Picture: TSPL
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A DYING mum has been granted precious extra time with her daughter after an expensive breast cancer drug withdrawn in England has been made available on the NHS in Scotland.

Alison Tait, said she was “blown away” after the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC), who select drugs for use by the health service, decided to approve Kadcyla, which can extend the lives of women suffering from an incurable form of the disease.

The 47-year-old, a bank worker from Davidson’s Mains, was diagnosed with breast cancer nine months ago and has been undergoing chemotherapy.

Since then Alison has been part of a group of women who have campaigned to have the drug made available on the NHS in Scotland.

Now the proud single mum to Ellen, 16, a pupil at the Royal High School, is making plans to be there for the key milestones in her daughter’s life. She said: “I’m quite blown away by the decision.

“It’s fantastic, really amazing. It gives you a huge sense of relief, this gives me another treatment option which is brilliant.

“For me and my daughter Ellen it gives us a great deal of confidence, hope and positivity around the future that we have together – I will be around for her longer, than I had hoped or thought I might be.

“It’s an opportunity for me to be here while she gets herself through university or until she finds a job or sets up her own flat or even being there for her the first time she gets her heartbroken. It’s little things at her age that mean so much to a mum and I feel I’ll be able to get Ellen to the stage where she can feel a bit more independent and mature. It just gives me that chance to be there for her.”

She added: “Ellen is thinking about her Highers and going into sixth year – it’s certainly something she talks about a lot – whether she’s definite about that, we don’t know. She’s doing very well at school – so there’s lots of options available to her.

“I can help her work out which qualifications are the right ones and how to get into a good university or job – she’s not going to be doing that without her mum.”

More than 4,600 women are diagnosed with breast cancer in Scotland each year, with the disease responsible for about 1,000 deaths annually.

Up to 118 women each year with the HER2-positive form of the disease could benefit from Kadcyla.

SMC chairman Dr Alan MacDonald said the drug, also known as trastuzumab emtansine, had been approved after its manufacturers offered a discount in cost.

He said: “I am pleased we were able to accept these new medicines for routine use in NHS Scotland.”