Drug made to help women like Layla Hooper added to PBS
TODAY marks 83 days since Toowoomba's Layla Hooper lost her battle with ovarian cancer.
It's also the day a special drug that could help with the advanced stage of the disease becomes available as part of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
The drug Olaparib, marketed as Lynparza in Australia, used to cost $13,600 for a six-month treatment for women with a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation.
Under the PBS, it will only set patients back $38 a month.
Ms Hooper's mother Sallyann Hall, who described her daughter as a fighter until the end, took some comfort in knowing women in a similar situation would be able to get affordable treatment.
"Definitely, it will help a lot of women," she said.
Ms Hooper, whose treatment was thankfully subsidised under the Closing the Gap initiative, had to endure constant rounds of chemotherapy and medication to try to reduce the size of her tumour.
"Continuous IV drugs, blood and platelet transfusions, morphine pain relief ... At one point I was taking up to seven tablets a day plus having to stomach disgusting tasting medication," she wrote in a letter shortly before her death on November 11.
Ovarian Cancer Australia CEO Jane Hill called the addition of Olaparib to the PBS the "most significant development in 30 years for treating advanced ovarian cancer".
"There's no better way for us to kick off Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month than with the news that the day-to-day lives of women with advanced ovarian cancer will be improved with Olaparib now listed on the PBS," Ms Hill said.
"Treatment options for women with ovarian cancer have not changed since the 1980s. This new class of anti-cancer drugs, the PARP inhibitors, while not a cure, is a promising indication that new and improved therapies can, and will, be found."
While treatments continue to improve to help those with cancer, Ms Hall said she would best remember her daughter as a kind and caring person rather than someone with the disease.
"She always had a beautiful smile," she said.
"Rather than sitting at home letting the cancer consume her, she was able to build memories with family and friends.
"She always wanted to be treated normally and enjoy life.
"She made sure cancer didn't rule her life. She barely even spoke to her friends about it."