The family of a former teaching assistant, fighting for her life because of a brain tumour, have started a petition demanding a life-saving new treatment be available on the NHS.
Natasha Shannahan, 35, believes proton beam therapy treatment can save her because it has a higher success rate than other therapies.
She has had to stop working at special needs school Greenvale in Catford, because of the cancer which has already been operated on. But 20 per cent of the cancer is still lodged in her skull – and it has begun to grow.
NHS doctors have told her she must have chemotherapy and radiotherapy – but her own research has led her to believe proton beam therapy can make it shrink and eventually disappear.
It would cost £60,000 to have it carried out in Prague – and they have already raised more than £12,000.
The therapy is available at the Rutherford Cancer Centre in Newport, South Wales – but not on the NHS.
Her aunt Tammy Smith, from Penge, has how started a petition to change that.
Tammy, 35, of Burham Close, and an executive assistant working in Waterloo, said: “I strongly believe proton beam therapy should be made available to all cancer patients and not just a few minority cases. Why are some patients not consulted about this treatment option. It’s unfair and if there’s a treatment out there that can help others than Tasha’s Fight is now bigger as we are now fighting for all cancer patients to have the choice.
“Other therapies pass all the way through the body, damaging sensitive tissues around and behind the tumour site, but proton beam therapy particles stop at the tumour, reducing collateral damage.
“Tash has been having seizures in the last three weeks and one of them was the worst she’s ever had which has scared her.
“She continues to be strong and positive and the family and our friends have been amazing and we are determined to stay focused for her.
“It has been a difficult time for her and everyone who knows and loves her.”
Natasha, pictured above right with Tammy, from Queen Adelaide Road, Penge, who worked with teenagers who have autism, was diagnosed in 2016 after having a seizure as she was getting ready for work.
She underwent brain surgery last March – and during the operation she had to stay awake to avoid being paralysed.
Natasha has been told the initial consultation in Prague will be on January 14.
Before treatment she would have to undergo treatment planning on January 28 followed by six weeks of treatment from February 5-March 20.
To donate, you can do so via the crowdfunding page at https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/natasha-shannahan
To sign the petition about making proton therapy available on the NHS, go to https://www.change.org/p/uk-government-and-parliament-proton-beam-therapy-to-be-made-available-on-the-nhs-to-all-cancer-patients
* On November 30 we stated the closest proton beam therapy centre was in Prague – we have since been informed about the Rutherford Centre, so are happy to correct this inaccuracy.
Please support your local paper by making a donation
Please make cheques payable to “MSI Media Limited” and send by post to South London Press, Unit 112, 160 Bromley Road, Catford, London SE6 2NZ
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick has encouraged everyone in the country who can afford to do so to buy a newspaper, and told the Downing Street press briefing recently: “A free country needs a free press, and the newspapers of our country are under significant financial pressure”.
So if you have enjoyed reading this story, and if you can afford to do so, we would be so grateful if you can buy our newspaper or make a donation, which will allow us to continue to bring stories like this one to you both in print and online.