Kerrie Tarrant with husband Andrew Tarrant, who is battling cancer.
Kerrie Tarrant with husband Andrew Tarrant, who is battling cancer. Adam Hourigan

Cancer battle a huge cost

IT ALL started with a bit of discomfort and ended with a diagnosis of stomach cancer.

Andrew Tarrant's diagnosis was confirmed in January and when he looked for treatments, he found an alternative to chemotherapy in immunotherapy.

"I had a scope in early January and it came back with advanced stomach cancer, which we weren't even thinking would be an option," he said.

"I had a meal for my mum's birthday, and I had a beer and only had half the beer, which is odd because I usually get through a whole beer.

"We had a pasta meal and it just really sat there. I thought I had ulcers at that stage. The actual stomach cancer you don't get pain from, I've had basically none."

However, Mr Tarrant's right kidney became inflamed from the by-products left in his stomach, which landed him in hospital.

"I thought I'd passed kidney stones. I went into hospital a few days before the scope with that," he said.

Immunotherapy may work in three different ways: to stop or slow the growth of cancer cells, stop cancer from spreading to other parts of the body or to help the immune system work better at destroying cancer cells. But it is costly for stomach cancer patients.

Mr Tarrant said his doctor did not give a good prognosis but they hoped the therapy would work.

But because stomach cancer is more rare than others such as lung and breast cancer, the cost of treatment is not as heavily subsidised by the government. The treatment is a drip of 200ml of a drug that costs almost $6000 for each treatment.

"It's about two per cent of the population (who get stomach cancer)," Mr Tarrant said.

His wife Kerrie Tarrant said if he had lung cancer or a melanoma, the story would be very different.

"It (the drug) would be $39.50 if it were on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme," she said.

Mr Tarrant has to take the drug every three weeks, and it is not guaranteed to work.

To help the Tarrant family with the cost, the Grafton Helping Hands Committee has organised a trivia night, to be held at Grafton District Services Club on Saturday, May 5

Team entry is $200 with a maximum of eight people per team. The event will start at 7pm. For more details, phone the GDSC on 66403200.

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