The Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance would like to welcome Lou Williams to our blog. Today, Lou shares her story of how the drug Keytruda® is helping her in her fight against mesothelioma and how she is campaigning to get this important treatment fast tracked on the Australian PBS (Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme) in an effort to make it more readily available to mesothelioma patients in her country.
MY BODY WAS SHUTTING DOWN IN APRIL 2015.
I was on 24/7 oxygen, morphine, had blood transfusions every 2 weeks, suffered from extreme nausea, and weighed a mere 42 kilos (92.6lbs)…
I was then offered a lifeline on Keytruda® (pembrolizumab). My oncologist recommended this drug as treatment based on reports of successful results shown in 26 patients in the U.S.—a 76% positive response for pleural mesothelioma.
My name is Lou Williams and I have pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma. Being that I was at end-of-life stage last April, Keytruda® was a chance that I was willing to take if it could give me quality of life and hopefully quantity too. My oncologist said if it worked that I would not only get quality of life, but a possible 12 to 18 additional months of life. The only catch—there was a significant cost involved to us for every Keytruda® infusion and infusions take place every 3 weeks. I have just had my no. 17 overnight in the hospital.
After my no. 3 Keytruda® infusion, my CT scans showed significant shrinkage. By my no. 4 and no. 5 infusions, I was no longer dependent on oxygen or morphine. Since then, I have had excellent quality of life with no pain!
I have been campaigning since September 2015 to have Keytruda® put on our Australian PBS (Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme). My petition to fast track Keytruda® on to the PBS has nearly 8,000 signatures to date.
As mesothelioma is a very aggressive, brutal, and painful cancer, it is my belief that if Keytruda® was available on our PBS for $6 instead of $5,000 to $9,000 per patient, oncologists would be able to introduce Keytruda® earlier in treatments rather than waiting until end-of-life stage when all else has failed.
I am currently in promising discussions with my government and the pharmaceutical company who produces Keytruda® to keep the process of fast tracking this immunotherapy drug on to the PBS on course.
I am sure that I speak for all mesothelioma patients in saying “We simply do not have time!” Mesothelioma is deadly, painful, and aggressive.
To learn more about my campaign or to sign my petition to fast track Keytruda® on to the PBS in Australia, please visit https://www.change.org/p/federal-health-minister-sussan-ley-keytruda-on-pbs-pharmaceutical-benefits-scheme-for-mesothelioma-life-saving-drug