A MUM-OF-TWO who was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer is urging people to sign a petition that could help keep her, and others, on life-prolonging treatment.

Shirley McGovern, of Bentham Close, Mill Hill, Blackburn, was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2013. After undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatment she was offered a form of immunotherapy in December 2016.

But guidelines issued by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) state that the treatment can only be offered to lung cancer patients, who have previously had chemotherapy, for a period of 24 months.

Mrs McGovern’s treatment will end in December this year and after that she isn’t sure what will happen. The 55-year-old said: “When I was first diagnosed in 2013 the doctors gave me 18 months to live.

“They started me on chemotherapy and radiation and I was stable until 2016 when they found the cancer had spread to my lung lining. That’s when they prescribed a treatment called pembrolizumab but said it would only be available to me for 24 months.”

And now, along with other lung cancer patients who have also been offered the drug, Mrs McGovern has set up a petition to try to fund the treatment for longer than two years.

She claims the treatment is being stopped because of cost, and if it was continued for longer than 24 months it would give her more time with her family – husband Phillip Bean and daughters, Kirsty, 15, and Jennifer, 13.

She said: “It’s extremely expensive and I know the NHS are not preventing people from having this for longer because they want to - they have been brilliant. It’s because of cost. They can’t afford to give it to people for longer than two years.”

Mrs McGovern says that the treatment has helped prolong her life for 21 months and while she has been receiving it she has not suffered the same side effects as she did when she was having chemotherapy.

She said: “This drug is better than chemo as I’ve not been ill on it and haven’t had the same symptoms as I did when I was on chemo. And it gives me a relatively normal life.

“This form of immunotherapy hasn’t been trialled on anyone for longer than 24 months, so we don’t know what the outcome would be. But, as far as I’m concerned, it’s keeping me stable.

“I know I am eventually going to die from cancer and we have talked extensively as a family about what will happen when I do, but unless I am offered another chance to take this drug I will die sooner. It’s definitely life extending.

“I want people to sign the petition to highlight this important treatment for lung cancer patients.

“I can’t afford to sit back and hope. I have to fight the system to get my treatment extended.”

A NICE spokesperson said: “When NICE appraised pembrolizumab for treating PDL1-positive non-small-cell lung cancer after chemotherapy, Merck Sharp & Dohme proposed including a rule stopping treatment after two years of uninterrupted treatment and no documented disease progression as this reflected their key clinical trial.

“Our independent appraisal committee incorporated this rule into its recommendation.

“We will consider whether there is new evidence available that suggests the guidance needs to be updated next year.”

To sign Mrs McGovern’s petition, visit: petition.parliament.uk/petitions/224537