This article was written by my sister Tracey...
Nancy Carter-Bradley has been living with incurable brain cancer since 2005. She is only 46 years old. Her tumour has recently started growing again and the prognosis is frankly rather grim so every day, every hour, every minute is precious. I’ve never met Nancy. But I have been following her journey for several years via her Instagram account @avocadofairy and I now consider her a friend. I admire her humility, her lack of self-pity, and, above all, her sense of humour which is darkly witty. When I suggested asking my brother Iain for his help with media exposure, her reply was: “Tell him I’m dying… Oh wait, I actually am…”
Her funny and brutally honest posts about her tumour - she won’t give it a name as she feels that would makes it sound too cosy and comfy (swear words usually suffice) – and about her family life: a husband, two grownup children and two eccentric pugs, affectionately known as the fruit and veg - have gained her a loyal following on Instagram. The hashtag #nancyswish was instigated by these followers and friends and resulted in a fundraising campaign to ensure she can tick a trip to see the Northern Lights off her bucket list.
Nancy would probably roll her eyes to know that I describe her as inspirational, but I have a feeling she’d approve of the word ‘tenacious’ when referring to her approach to raising awareness. She has written a children’s book, illustrated by her daughter – The Toadstool That Wanted to Stay – the proceeds of which all go to support brain cancer research and she is an Ambassador for The Brain Tumour Charity.
For patients like Nancy, with inoperable, incurable brain tumours, there is a treatment called OPTUNE, currently available in the USA and Germany, but only in the UK to those people who are able to privately fund it. Nancy, together with many others, is not in that position. Like Nancy, I have two grownup children. I cannot imagine what it must feel like to be told your future is to be cut short – that you may never see those rites of passage we all imagine witnessing with our children.
Nancy isn’t asking for money for herself; she has a parliamentary petition which went live on March 11th, now with over 14K signatures, to request that the government debate the funding of OPTUNE brain cancer treatment for NHS patients. You can find her petition via her new Twitter account @avocadofairy1 or via the link in her Instagram bio. Given March is ‘brain cancer awareness month’ Nancy, in-between debilitating bouts of chemotherapy, is making it her mission to get a conversation started about how this treatment can extend life expectancy and to encourage the National Institute for Health & Care Excellence (NIHCE) to reconsider their decision, so that there are more treatment options for patients with brain cancer.
OPTUNE is now Nancy’s only hope…a treatment currently seen as not cost-effective. Nancy knows she can’t be cured, but she, and those with her type of cancer, hope to be given the chance to have more time. It may not be enough time to grow old disgracefully – and I’ve no doubt Nancy would excel at that – but all time is precious, and without hope what do any of us have?
Please do sign the petition HERE.
Read the BBC News story HERE.
By Tracey Hunter-Dale
@traceydale1 (Twitter) / @traceyjhunter (Instagram)