July 16, 2008

‘I Hope 3000-Mile Trips Will Help Keep Me Alive’


Cancer sufferer Liam Hyland is travelling to Turkey every three weeks to buy the medication he hopes will keep him alive.

The 63-year-old, of Penkhull, is spending pounds400 each time on oral chemotherapy tablets for his liver cancer.

Mr Hyland originally travelled to Turkey as a private patient for CyberKnife treatment - pioneering surgery which delivers concentrated radiation blasts to patients' tumours - after contracting pancreatic cancer last year.

Although the procedure was successful, the cancer spread to his liver and he is now on Xeloda Capecitabine tablets.

Like CyberKnife, this medication is not available on the NHS, and Mr Hyland says if he paid to have the treatment privately in this country then he would have to wait too long for the results of essential blood tests between treatments.

The insurance complaints consultant said: "I cannot get the tablets from oncologists in this country unless I pay for a private consultation on top of the cost of the treatment.

"I bought my first lot in Turkey and I came back to the UK because I thought I could get them here.

"The treatment lasts two weeks. Then I need to have a blood test at the end of another week without being on the medication.

"I then need the results of the blood test before I can start the next two-week session, and in the UK it can take three days for the results. But in Turkey I am confident I'll get them back in time.

"I'm not blaming our doctors for this - they have been more than helpful. It is the fault of the system."

It is almost a year since Mr Hyland was diagnosed with cancer of the pancreas.

Three days earlier, he had read in The Sentinel about Leek policeman Alan Bowley, who had CyberKnife treatment in America to fight his own condition and is now on the road to recovery.

Mr Hyland's sister, Ann Ball, contacted the Bowleys, and following research a surgeon in Turkey agreed to operate. Now Mr Hyland is back in Turkey for his first blood tests and to continue with his treatment.

He said: "It's good news CyberKnife is working on the tumour in my pancreas.

"Doctors have told me the lesions on my liver are fairly new and not very large, and that's why I'm on these tablets.

"I feel more comfortable that I can get what I need - and more quickly - in Turkey.

"I've always been very positive about the treatment. I believe this medication will help me.

"I don't know if it will cure me, but it will certainly make a difference to my life."

Mrs Ball, who is campaigning to get CyberKnife treatment on the NHS, is angry her brother has been let down again by the NHS.

The 67-year-old, of Longton, said: "I am furious he couldn't get the prescription in this country. The only way for Liam to get the treatment he needs here is to pay for it privately. He can do that in Turkey and get a much better service."

(c) 2008 Sentinel, The (Stoke-on-Trent UK). Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.