We will see our children grow up on the cancer drug funded by Sun readers

A LIFE-CHANGING cancer drug launched on the NHS thanks to money raised by brilliant Sun readers over 20 years ago.

Doctors approved the chemotherapy medicine olaparib in April for patients with breast and prostate cancers with certain genetic mutations.

Joannah Kelly says new cancer drug olaparib extended her life and thanks Sun readersCredit: Louis Wood
Claire Spragg says olaparib has given her the ability to see her children grow into adultsCredit: Andy Kelvin / Kelvinmedia
The King expressed his support for the campaign while still the Prince of WalesCredit: Getty

Scientists have shown that it reduces the risk of tumors regrowth after a research funded by a donation of 650,000 from this journal in 2001.

Our Raise a Ton with The Sun campaign was launched in September 2000 with the support of King Charles, Ronan Keating, Denise van Outen, Sir Ranulph Fiennes and many other celebrities.

Hundreds of readers and your friends and families have raised money and donated it to the Breast Cancer Now charity to fund the first trials of olaparib.

The drug will now change the lives of another 800 cancer patients each year, buying them precious extra time with their loved ones.

Dr Simon Vincent, director of research at Breast Cancer Now, said: Discovering new ways to treat cancer requires an enormous amount of work over many years.

Breakthroughs like this can only happen thanks to the generosity of our supporters, including readers of The Sun who supported this research in its early stages.

We were incredibly grateful.\”

The drug works by destroying PARP proteins that prevent cancer cells from healing on their own and causing them to die.

It is helpful for people with a BRCA gene mutation known as the Jolie gene as actress Angelina Jolie has it due to a natural weakness in their tumors.

After years of research and battling NHS red tape, olaparib is now being used to transform the lives of cancer patients, including Joannah Kelly and Claire Spragg.

Sustainability consultant Joannah, 44, a mother of two, from Croydon, was diagnosed with breast cancer less than two weeks before the birth of her second child in 2020.

He took olaparib for a year in 2021 and 2022 to help stop the cancer from growing back after surgery, chemo and radiation.

Ronan Keating has expressed his support for our \”Raise a Ton with The Sun\” campaign.Credit: Getty
As well as other celebrities such as Denise van Outen from televisionCredit: Getty

Jo told The Sun: I noticed a lump in my breast and attributed it to pregnancy but had it checked out.

\”I was basically diagnosed there and then, and my husband had to come and drive me home because I was crying and shaking.

After the safe birth of her son, Henry, a year of grueling treatment followed.

One of Jo\’s doctors was Professor Andrew Tutt, a leading cancer researcher who had been involved in the early olaparib studies.

She said: I remember thinking this could almost halve my risk of cancer recurrence and I wanted to do anything to prolong my life.

If I get cancer again in the future, I want to be able to tell my kids that I\’ve done everything I can to reduce that risk.

In hindsight it was a no-brainer and I\’m 100% happy with my decision.

I am so thankful for all the work Breast Cancer Now has done and everyone who has raised money for The Sun to donate 650,000. It wouldn\’t have happened without them.

Our campaign urged readers to raise 100 a ton each to donate to the search for a cure for breast cancer.

The donations have been generously matched by the Southon Trust up to a total of 500,000.

Hundreds of people donated money and together we raised 650,000 for Breast Cancer Now, then called Breakthrough Breast Cancer.

The list of celebrity endorsers was long, including TV and music stars such as Ian Wright, Isla Fisher, Lorraine Kelly, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Liz Hurley, Lisa Riley, Baby Spice Emma Bunton and model Caprice.

Arsenal legend Ian Wright also supported the campaignCredit: Sports File
Sir Ranulph Fiennes has also lent his support to our fundraising offerCredit: Getty

King Charles who was then the Prince of Wales was a patron of the charity and pledged to support our fundraising bid.

Writing in The Sun following the November 9, 2001 donation, he said: I have been very impressed by the energy and commitment of individual fundraisers across the country.

\”Suns readers have been at the forefront of this effort.

Thousands of you supported the Raise A Ton With The Sun fundraising appeal and helped raise 650,000, a wonderful achievement.

Olaparib already existed as a cancer treatment, but studies we helped fund showed doctors could use it more effectively.

Laboratory tests revealed that cancer cells in women with BRCA gene mutations were about 1,000 times more sensitive to olaparib than normal.

The drug could be targeted in a way that reduces damage to surrounding tissue and reduces the risk of side effects.

Trials of this attachment method began on female patients in 2001 and revealed how olaparib could help these women, whose cancer risk is much higher than average.

Only about one in 400 people, 0.25%, inherit a faulty BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene, but a shocking 70% of women who have one will develop breast cancer.

Meanwhile, one in ten men with the genetic mutations will get breast cancer, and the risk for the prostate is also higher.

After many years of research, the scientists were able to demonstrate that olaparib could reduce the risk of cancer recurrence in these patients after standard treatment.

Its effectiveness varies according to the type of cancer, but it can increase survival by a third.

Scientists have managed to show that the drug olaparib could reduce patients\’ risk of cancer recurrence after standard treatmentCredit: Provided

Medicines watchdog, the National Institutes of Health and Care Excellence, rejected the drug for NHS use last year over concerns about its price.

But a campaign of lobbying by cancer charities and a cheaper deal struck by NHS England and AstraZeneca got the green light in April.

The London Institute for Cancer Research said at the time that the approval would change patients\’ lives.

Prof Tutt, director of the Breast Cancer Now Toby Robins Research Center at the ICR, said: Olaparib is a game-changing medicine for patients with this type of inherited breast cancer.

Its development has been underpinned by over 25 years of research at the ICR and it is incredibly gratifying to see decades of work lead to new treatments for patients.

In 2005, we made a key discovery that showed that PARP inhibitors could selectively kill cancer cells with defects in their BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes.

This was crucial, and we were immensely grateful to the readers of Breast Cancer Now and the Sun who helped fund that research.

Claire Spragg, 46, from Cheshire, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2021 and has been on olaparib for a year since that December following her first treatment.

Bank clerk Claire, a mother of two, had no symptoms and was diagnosed with rapidly growing cancer by accident from a routine mammogram.

After chemotherapy and surgery she was offered olaparib by her doctor.

Claire said: I was petrified by the return of the cancer.

My oncologist said triple negative cancers like mine have a high recurrence rate, but a great new tablet was available.

It wasn\’t on the NHS so we were both over the moon when our application was approved for me.

There were side effects like fatigue and lack of appetite, but you second that because it gave me a chance to see my children grow into adults.

I know I\’ve done everything I can to have a chance to grow together.

In years past my sister and I had done the Race for Life a couple of times due to family members my grandmother died of breast cancer at the age of 44.

It\’s absolutely amazing that the fundraiser is there for research to help people like myself and other cancer patients.

Cancer Research UK and Prostate Cancer UK have also helped fund studies into new uses for olaparib, which was first used as an ovarian cancer drug.

Chiara De Biase, from Prostate Cancer UK, said: It is only through the power of research funding that we will stop life-limiting prostate cancer for men.

Dr Samuel Godfrey, research expert at CRUK, said: Scientists and doctors funded by charitable donations have contributed half of the world\’s essential cancer medicines.

Treatments like olaparib give new hope to many people living with cancer, but it\’s vital that we continue to invest in research to find new treatments for people who need them.

NHS England director of cancer, Professor Peter Johnson added: The recent approval of olaparib for the treatment of NHS patients with early breast cancer and advanced prostate cancer is a fantastic example of the NHS making available best drugs at an affordable price for taxpayers .

The milestone approval, which comes in the 75th year of the NHS, is also a reminder of the important role charities such as Breast Cancer Now and Cancer Research UK and campaigns such as The Suns have played and continue to play in raising awareness and fund early research on cutting edge treatments.

Claire says taking olaparib makes her feel like it\’s done everything possible to prolong her lifeCredit: Andy Kelvin / Kelvinmedia
Our \”Raise a Ton with The Sun\” campaign was launched in 2000 with great supportCredit: Provided

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