'I would be able to live into my thirties:' Nova Scotia woman has high hopes for new cancer treatment
HALIFAX -- Maria Stevens was diagnosed with cervical cancer two years ago. Now, with a new treatment on the horizon, the 29-year-old is more hopeful for her future.
"That I would be able to live into my thirties," Stevens said. "Which now they’re saying that might not happen."
The Nova Scotia Health Cancer Care Program says the cost of approximate cost of Keytruda, also known as Pembrolizumab, is between $6,000 to $9,000 per month.
The drug has already been approved to treat other cancers, but Health Canada says at this time, Keytruda is not approved for cervical cancer.
Officials with the department say there are ongoing clinical trials for its use cervical cancer, one of which includes Keytruda.
In an email to CTV News, the province’s department of health says following Health Canada’s approval, cancer drugs also need to go through additional processes before Nova Scotia would consider funding a new medication.
The 29-year-old says the drug was suggested by her doctor as the best option at this time, but Stevens say she can’t afford the cost.
"I was doing chemo up until a few weeks ago when I got a scan result that came back very badly, that my tumours had become resistant through chemo and that they were growing through chemo so had to stop that treatment," she said.
Stevens added her doctor tried to get her financial assistance but was unsuccessful, leaving her frustrated.
"I always wanted a family and now that’s out of the question," said Stevens. "I used to be more active, I love hiking and to do outdoors stuff, now that’s limited."
Her childhood friend, Lauren Campbell, said no one should have to watch their friend go through this.
"No one should have to beg for their life," said Campbell. "The fact that Maria has to do this and has to go through this before age 30 is, it’s devastating – I think that this treatment would really help her."
Campbell, also 29, says she’s grateful for all the financial support she has received through her GoFundMe page so far – from family, friends, her employer and even complete strangers.
"I have to get up and be positive every day and you know, try to do everything I can to beat this," she said.
"You can’t put a price tag on life," added Campbell.
With just a little more than a month to go until her 30th birthday, Stevens is focused on starting the new drug as soon as possible.
While everyone reacts differently to treatment, she is hopeful Keytruda would keep her stable or at least shrink the tumours.