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Man fighting brain tumour now in battle with gov't
Published Thursday, February 11, 2010 6:05PM MST
An Edmonton man has been battling multiple brain tumours for the past 10 years. But now, Kent Pankow says he's going up against the Alberta government because the drug he needs to live is covered for other types of cancers, but not brain cancer.
"The drug is called Avastin and it's approved in Canada for breast cancer, colon cancer, lung cancer…but it's not approved for brain cancer," said Pankow.
Pankow says he was given up to five years to live when he was diagnosed with a Glioblastoma multiformebrain tumour.
And after beating it once and spending nearly seven years in remission, he started another battle when the cancer returned in 2008.
He survived two craniotomies to get the tumour out. And a new combination of chemotherapy drugs is working, but the cost of the drug is financially draining his family.
"With Avastin the treatments every two weeks are $4,550, so that's just under $10,000 every month. It's a joke," he said.
Pankow and his wife, Deborah, have launched a campaign, lobbying the provincial and federal governments to cover Avastin for brain tumours.
"We're kind of running out of options and so that's why we are counting on the Government of Alberta and have compassion in this situation," said Deborah Hurford.
Earlier this week, the provincial government increased its budget by $23 million for specialized high-cost drugs. However, the health minister made no commitment to help in Pankow's case when he spoke to CTV News Thursday.
"I'm very sympathetic to people who are in that situation and need help," said Health Minister Gene Zwozdesky.
The couple is now leaning on friends, family, and the community to help cover the growing pile of bills.
"If that's what it takes to stay alive...you gotta do what you gotta do," said Pankow.
To learn more about the Kent Pankow trust fund visit www.kentpankow.com
With files from Dez Melenka