THE FAMILY of a teenager who died from a rare form of bone cancer are celebrating after a drug which could have helped him received crucial backing.
Queen Elizabeth Grammar School pupil Alex Dawson was just 16 when he died from a very rare and aggressive form of osteosarcoma in 2007.
Since his diagnosis two years earlier, his family have actively been involved with the Bone Cancer Research Trust (BCRT), and his mum Sarah has even become a trustee of the charity.
The Dawsons have joined the BCRT in campaigning to the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) over the funding of the bone cancer drug Mepact, which is not currently available on the NHS.
But last week they were celebrating after NICE decided to back the drug, which is given to patients after tumours have been removed – and can increase survival rates by 30 per cent.
Mrs Dawson, 52, of Saffron Court, Alverthorpe, said: “We’ve been campaigning very strongly for this for a long time, the difference it can make is huge.
“I was absolutely incensed that this drug was not available due to cost – to me it devalued Al’s life.”
Only 100 to 150 new cases of bone cancer are diagnosed each year, most in teenage boys, and Mepact will be able to be used in a proportion of these cases.
Mrs Dawson said: “This gives people in Al’s position the opportunity to really fight and means that a significant number of young people will survive and go on to have a meaningful life. We’re absolutely thrilled.”
Since Alex’s diagnosis in 2005, the family, their friends and staff and pupils at QEGS have raised thousands of pounds for BCRT and the Teenage Cancer Trust (TCT), which ran the ward where Alex received treatment at St James’ Hospital, Leeds.
The school still holds a ‘Do it for Dawson’ fundraising day every year and this year’s event raised £15,000 for the TCT.
Alex’s twin Patrick, 20, and sister Felicity, 23, will run the Great North Run on Sunday for the BCRT. Next year they will also run the London Marathon in their brother’s memory.
Mrs Dawson said: “It’s phenomenal just how much money has been raised. Al lives on through these events.”
To sponsor Felicity and Patrick, visit www.justgiving.com/FlickandPatGNR2011