A growing number of Britons are turning to online fundraising for essential treatment in a desperate, ‘Dickensian’ attempt to get around NHS shortfalls. But does it work?
Heather Bellamy’s March appointment at the Queen Elizabeth hospital in King’s Lynn didn’t go well. She had been diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia five years before, in December 2014; now, her doctor explained gently, she had run out of options on the NHS. Bellamy, 48, would be starting a chemotherapy drug called azacitidine that could extend her life expectancy from two months to six. Her doctor asked if she had a bucket list. “I felt crushed,” she remembers.
Speaking one month on, Bellamy – a senior practice nurse and a mother of four from Downham Market in Norfolk – isn’t chasing her dreams of bungee jumping or swimming with dolphins. Instead, she is fundraising online for an experimental cancer drug, enasidenib, which has been approved by the US authorities but is not available on the NHS.
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