Scots mum with advanced cancer handed lifeline by Scottish Government

A mum-of-two given just weeks to live has been handed a lifeline after the Scottish Government performed a dramatic U-turn that will enable her to receive cancer treatment in England.

Roz Paterson.
Roz Paterson.

Roz Paterson, who raised an incredible £320,000 towards receiving groundbreaking therapy in the US, will travel to London for an initial consultation at King’s College Hospital on Friday.

The 52-year-old from Beauly in the Highlands, was diagnosed with an aggressive form of blood cancer known as Large Diffuse B-Cell Lymphoma (LDBCL).

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After four rounds of chemotherapy failed she had no alternative but to consider alternative types of treatment including a pioneering new remedy known as Car-T Cell Therapy.

The costly treatment is available on the NHS in England but has not been approved in Scotland meaning Roz was left with no alternative but to try and raise the £500,000 required for treatment at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

She was preparing to travel to the US with husband Malcolm McDonald, 62, and her two children, daughter Thea, 13 and son David 10, for what she described as her “last chance”.

READ MORE: Life-saving cancer treatment fund for Scottish mother given weeks to live over halfway to targetHowever, a shocked Roz received news of the Scottish Government decision that came out of the blue when she visited her consultant at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness on Tuesday.

She said: “It’s just the best news.

“When it was first requested it just wasn’t going to happen.

“It’s such a huge expense, there’s the cost of the drugs but there’s also the fact there’s the hospitalization - you’re in hospital for a long time and there’s follow up treatment, so it’s not a cheap therapy.

“Obviously a lot of things have been going on in the background that I wasn’t aware of.

“My consultant Dr Forsyth and his team have been pursuing and pursuing this - that’s the thing that’s broken down the resistance and the fact it’s become so public.

“Everybody in Scotland knows about it and I don’t think that’s done any harm at all.

“You can’t quite believe what you’re hearing and the wonderful thing was the consultant who told me was the same one who back in October had to tell me that my life expectancy was very short.”

Roz said it was a “huge relief” to now go to London instead of having to travel to the US.

She added: “It makes it much easier for all of us going to London - that’s such a huge relief.

“Even if we had raised £2 million and had to go to the States, it’s a huge upheaval for the family.

“Although there’s been lots of goodwill in Boston and lots of people saying they’d meet us for dinner and help - it’s still a foreign city for us and it’s still a long way from home.

“But London - it’s our neighbour.”

READ MORE: Scottish mum fundraises for ‘last chance’ cancer treatmentThe £320,000 raised on Roz’s GoFundMe page has been returned and funds raised by schoolchildren through pyjama days, sponsored swims, and collected in buckets at football matches is to be ring-fenced and used to help local families stricken by cancer.

Roz said she now doesn’t need the money and had only asked for it to pay medical bills.

She added: “Even if we’d sold the family home, plus my mum’s flat, and remortgaged my brother’s, we just wouldn’t have had enough.

“Some people gave money they can’t afford, because it was a matter of life and death.

“They gave me £3, or £5, gleaned from what little they had, because my need, at that time, was greater than theirs.

“That’s not the case now, and I think the best plan is to automatically refund everyone who contributed via GoFundMe, so that no-one has to ask. Other monies can be returned to those who gave so generously, with my heartfelt thanks.”