The couple cite a mix of budget and regional restrictions, inconsistent processing and assessments together with scant information.
This has driven them to seek donations to pay privately for the treatment in a bid to prolong Anca’s life now the cancer has spread.
“But it should not have come to this,” says Richard, 51. “The medical expertise is there to help people like us, but the systems don’t always seem linked up and inefficiencies or worse creep in.”
The Falconer’s battle began shortly after the birth of their only child Mary, six years ago when Anca, 36, was diagnosed with Leiomyosarcoma (LMS). She was monitored by the Royal Marsden Hospital in London and underwent major tumour surgery.
Although this was a success, the family, from Haverfordwest, were warned of inoperable secondary liver cancer which is what happened four years ago and after they had already moved from England to Wales.
“Anca weathered a lot of chemotherapy and the cancer did not spread further to her lungs as predicted. Her best hope became a targeted intensive treatment for her liver,” explains Richard.
The treatment, known as selective internal radiation therapy (SIRT), can halt or reverse tumour growth and is only currently available privately although the NHS is undertaking evaluation trials.
“We made repeated applications for this route, but they were all rejected by NHS Wales,” adds Richard.
“Our request to get referred back to the specialists in England was also turned down, although before we moved it was our understanding we could return to the Marsden.”
The family’s desperation increased when a specialist they consulted privately also recommended SIRT and advised them to ask again.
“But we were told the application was ‘futile’ even though we were producing new evidence from his report. My wife is in terrible discomfort and the contradictions we are presented with just make us despair,” adds Richard.
In response Dr Sian Lewis, medical…