• Elizabeth Archer

On Bradley Lowery and crowdfunding for cancer treatment


This week little Bradley Lowery, who had been battling a rare form of cancer called neuroblastoma, died in his parents' arms aged six. His mum Gemma and dad Carl had been fundraising for pioneering treatment in the US but in April his parents were told Bradley's cancer was terminal.

Their story touched the hearts of the nation after Bradley struck up a friendship with England striker Jermain Defoe. But what's distressing is that Bradley's parents aren't the only family crowdfunding to pay for cancer treatment for their child

Last month I spoke to Michael and Nicola Caton whose two-year-old daughter Isla Caton also has neuroblastoma. Like Bradley's parents, Michael and Nicola hope to raise almost £200,000 for pioneering cancer treatment in the US, which they hope will prevent Isla's cancer from returning.

(Donate to their page here.)

Medical crowdfunding is a worrying trend. Despite the NHS' fantastic care, the fundraising website Just Giving saw a 350% increase in the number of crowdfunding pages for medical treatments in 2016, and they expect to see a further 280% increase this year.

What's more, Stephen Richards, Chief Executive of the charity Solving Kids' Cancer told me on the phone: "We've certainly noticed that there are growing numbers of parents crowdfunding on behalf of their children."

"NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) has become much stricter in approving new drugs, especially those which cater for a small number of patients and often children with cancer fall under that remit."

With NHS funding cuts it's no surprise that fewer and fewer new treatments are being approved. But let's not allow crowdfunding for cancer treatment to become a normal state of affairs.

Children should have access to the most pioneering treatments and trials in the world here in the UK. Imagine that your first thought when your child is diagnosed with cancer is not about whether they will survive, but whether you should remortgage your house.

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Copyright Elizabeth Archer 2016