Miracle cancer survivor in new mission to find cure
A “MIRACLE” cancer survivor is to take part in research to help find a cure – once coronavirus is under control.
Barbara Moss of Worcester was given just three months to live and began to plan her funeral when diagnosed with bowel cancer in November 2006. However, Mrs Moss has now been cancer free for the last 12 years, defying medical experts to survive and thrive against the odds.
Now the 65-year-old of Aconbury Close, who admits she feels ‘guilty to be alive’, wants to take part in research to explain why she survived and others did not.
Her hope is that this research can develop treatments which provide a lifeline to those battling cancer for generations to come.
Mrs Moss, who only survived after her family paid for a biological drug which shrank the tumour, wants to assist Continuum Life Sciences and the work pioneered by Dr James Hull. She was forced to cash in her pension to pay for the drug because it was not available on the NHS.
Mrs Moss, an expert patient for the European Medicines Agency and ambassador for Bowel Cancer UK and Digestive Cancers Europe, was due to give samples to assist with the research at Singleton Hospital, Sketty, near Swansea on Tuesday but this has had to be put on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Dr Hull was himself a former patient who has survived ‘numerous battles against multiple cancers’ and has brought together a number of researchers from several British universities.
Mrs Moss is one of a number of survivors who want to donate biological material for analysis, data which may hold the key in the fight against cancer. It is hoped that these ‘extreme phenotypes’, exceptional responders and immunotherapy success stories can shed light on why she survived and provide treatments to help others do the same.
Mrs Moss said: “Patients want to share, to give their data, to help other patients.
“This is quite different to every piece of research previously done. It is just so exciting and I can’t wait to hear your up-to-date reports. You will help me to not feel guilty because what you are doing is going to change the lives of millions of people through the experience of people like me.”
The former English teacher had the primary cancer in her ascending colon and a 15cm tumour in her left liver.
Diagnosed at A&E, she was told she had three months to live and palliative care was all that was offered.
Chemotherapy did not work and research led the family to discover the biological drugs, Avastin and Cetuximab, being used in Europe and America.
However, the drugs were not available on the NHS so the Moss family
paid £21,000 for the drug, dramatically shrinking the tumour in her liver so that it became operable. The colon and the left liver were removed in one operation by two separate teams of surgeons.
Infections followed and she had an adjuvant treatment but as soon as this treatment stopped, the cancer returned all over the lymph.
She said: “I was given six treatments of basic chemotherapy that had failed me before and something that seems like a miracle took place. The cancer disappeared. It was now September 2008 and it has never returned since then.
“Now you may still be asking why I feel guilty. It’s because I had the worst prognosis, yet all the people with whom I made friends through cancer, and who had a much better prognosis than me, are now dead. Why didn’t I die?
“This guilt has led me to try to help others and both Mark, my husband, and I have continued with our advocacy, trying to make conditions better for other patients in the UK and in Europe.
“You can imagine the excitement I felt when I heard about Continuum Life Sciences and the work pioneered by Dr Hull.”
Mrs Moss added: “I don’t ever forget what it would have been like for my family if I had died. Our two sons would not have had a mother; my husband would not have had a wife. That night when I had been told that I only had three months, I wrote letters to each of them telling them that I would be there in spirit when they graduated, got married, started their first jobs and I would be feeling very proud of them.”