For immediate release
WILL 100,000 VOICES SAY “YES” TO DRUGS FOR JEMMA’S RARE CANCER?
Sussex’s Jemma Peacock & her ambitious online campaign are gaining huge exposure nationwide.
Jemma Peacock is just 31. She lives in Storrington in West Sussex and has two lovely daughters. She was expecting her second child when she was diagnosed with Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumour (GIST), a rare cancer found in the digestive system. She needed ten blood transfusions and nearly died.
There is currently no cure for inoperable GIST, but targeted drugs enable a patient to live for considerably longer, providing both time with their families and for research into other solutions to continue.
One of these vital, “last resort” life-extending drugs is Regorafenib but recently Jemma learnt that this will no longer be available to her following its removal from the Cancer Drugs Fund with no right of appeal. Philip Hunt, Labour’s Deputy Leader in the Lords, called this decision “extraordinary and perverse”.
To Jemma it was devastating news but she’s taken up the challenge of getting the decision overturned: “I discovered that raising 100,000 signatures via an online petition would force the matter to be debated in Parliament. I’ve never been one to give up easily and I’ve thrown everything into this battle. I think anyone in my position would do the same. Regorafenib gives me a realistic chance of seeing my little girls grow up so I have to fight for the chance to have access to it”
Jemma’s cancer is so rare that in 2014 only 29 patients were administered the drug. “There are so few of us ‘GISTers’ in the UK that I knew it was going to be hard to have our voices heard so we’ve teamed up in this campaign we call #100000voices and together we are stronger and louder. Initially we’d be thrilled every time someone signed the petition but things have begun to snowball and the campaign is now taking up all of my time with thousands of new signatures every day”
The petition has already attracted more than 65,000 signatures and is gaining momentum by the hour. Jemma and her fellow campaigners have featured on TV, Radio and in the local and national press. The petition has attracted more signatures than any of the other 4,500 petitions on the Government’s website every day for the last week and by some considerable margin.
“At peak times over 1000 people an hour have been signing” said Jemma “Even through the night there are hundreds adding their signatures as we head towards the 100,000 voices we need. The level of warmth, kindness and support we’re receiving from strangers is overwhelming and whilst every signature counts, it is humbling to have support and messages from so many famous people too”.
“Someone tweeted me the other day and said I had enough pop stars following me to make an episode of Top Of The Pops! Earlier this morning Edwyn Collins, who’s had countless chart hits, wished me all the best. Then his wife Grace got in touch as well which I thought was an incredibly kind gesture and showed that they genuinely cared. I’m aware that Edwyn has had his own very serious health problems but he’s made a miraculous recovery and he is making music and touring again. He battled against all the odds and that’s exactly what I’m doing with this campaign”.
Jemma’s website (www.jemmapeacock.org) has been extremely busy with up to 7,000 different visitors per day and there’s a link to sign the petition from every page. The deadline for signatures is 30 March so there is clearly still much work to be done but Jemma’s enthusiasm is infectious and she is determined to find the 100,000 voices she needs: “I’m aware that we still have a mountain to climb but I just know we can get this done. We aren’t asking for sympathy or donations we’d just like people to take the 30 seconds or so needed to sign the petition. This will give me and others in my situation the chance to live for as long as possible. I think we all felt abandoned before the campaign took off but now we realise we aren’t alone and that soon we may just have the 100,000 voices we need to be heard”.