‘Miracle drug’ gives new lease on life
It has been labelled a miracle drug in terms of cancer treatment, and North Canterbury man Jack Davis could be living proof that Keytruda really does what it says on the tin.
Unfortunately for many cancer sufferers in New Zealand, the news it works is not enough, as the drug is yet to be funded.
Davis wants to use his renewed energy to share his story, in the hope of persuading the government to agree to fund the drug, also known as Pembrolizumab.
Im May, at the age of 49, Davis was given less than six months to live. His body was riddled with cancer — in his bowel, stomach wall, lungs, neck and lymph nodes – seven tumours in total.
He has Lynch syndrome, a genetic mutation which accelerates cancer, identified in 2015 after his fourth cancer diagnosis in as many years. His oldest daughter has also been diagnosed with Lynch syndrome, while his three other children have yet to be tested.
The family began fundraising in earnest to pay for the drug, needing to raise $60,000. Merck Sharp and Dohme, the company which makes the drug, has agreed to put Jack on the patient-funded programme for two years if he can raise the $60,000.
Fundraising efforts, including their Givealittle page, have so far raised $49,000, leaving $11,000 still to find.
But they are more determined than ever to reach their goal following scan results this week showing all his tumours had halved in size. After four injections, Davis said the results proved beyond doubt the drug was working for him.
‘‘The one in my bowel, they said it was incurable, the killer. They could only offer me palliative care.
‘‘Now I feel great, I’ve got so much more energy, a new lease of life.
‘‘I just want other unhealthy people to be healthy again.’’
Davis said while the drug was funded in most of the US states and elsewhere in the world, there were not the numbers in New Zealand to make the trials costefficient. But he urged people to take note of his success and lobby for others to be able to access Keytruda.
‘‘It really is a miracle drug, it’s given me time to spend with my family. I’m so grateful to everyone who has helped. I don’t think I’d be alive without all the support.’’
His next injection is scheduled for next week, and with a scan every three months it could be that he gets even better results in time for his 50th in December.