My father has always been a fan of boxing - but has never been into the ring, has never been in a fight like this one: against an opponent who you can’t always know for sure and who can surprise you. A fight where you can find yourself winning a round and feeling good, and then find yourself knocked onto the floor but with no alternative but to rally and return to the fight.
But my father has been in one of those scraps for the last three years and it is a fight that continues. In 2006, he was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver and he’s since heeded all the plentiful advice, no alcohol, no this, no that … he’s recovering from it.
Then late onset diabetes, with its daily ups and downs until you can manage, your body can read it: your intuition becomes more pronounced, you can see the punches coming. It is a remarkable thing that all sufferers come to manage this condition so adroitly not just my father.
Then a hip replacement, recovering now, no walking sticks anymore, it’s just a question of being confident in yourself to manage and cope pull yourself together and show your opponent you are not scared.
Then fluid retention, that was a bit obvious, and we can deal with that, but in analysing that punch they spotted the potential haymaker. Yes, cancer.
The cancer is in the liver as a primary and the lymph gland as a secondary. Hence, an operation is not recommended.
But there is a new drug Sorafenib
(brand name Nexavar) made by Bayer that has been prescribed by the medical team treating him. It would do the exact task that is required. The cancer has been found quite early, he leads an active life, there are no nurses, no visits to home by doctors he could live an active and full life for years with this treatment.
But it is not approved by NICE
They said no. They said they were sorry, but they said no. The sorry bit doesn’t help. Not really, not when it’s your father and he has done so much for so long. Selfishly we want him to stay with us, to spend time with his grandchildren, to spend time with us, to spend time with his wife, my mum. It is so easy to forget the suffering and the difficulties and the worries and concerns of the person who is well but oh so very close.
In all of this fight the NHS have been in my father’s corner, Time and again they have towelled him down between rounds, given him some smelling salts and sent him back into the next round and so far he is winning on points. But now a new situation, the medical team are still in his corner but the bureaucrats are supporting the opponent.
The decision-making process by PCTs on all of this is so opaque, soft words, hard decisions, all shrouded by process following. If it is so good then make the meeting public, let the patient appear and be questioned and let him/her question back. This is too important to be left to ‘nice’ people in business meeting rooms, making decisions far from the front row of the fight and those involved in the fight.
I love sport, I love the thought of victory and triumph and my father was winning this fight, but now there is some new strategy being used designed to take victory away from him. So we need more fighters on the team, his team, my team and maybe, as I write this, your team as well; let’s do what is right for fighters, shout for them , support them cheer them on, let’s not pull the stool out from under them as they take a breather between rounds.
Let’s let NICE know that we want a fair fight.