Early Disease Detection

Dying Mom’s YouTube Plea Leads to Early Release of Cancer Drug

The heart-wrenching image of a mother in a hospital bed, when she ought to be taking care of her son, has led to the early release of a cancer drug for compassionate use.

Darlene Gant, a 46-year-old mother suffering from stage four breast cancer, pleaded for the early release of a drug that could prolong her life through a video posted on YouTube. She made the plea on the grounds of compassionate use, which allows an unapproved drug to be used if no other treatment is available to the patient.

The drug, pertuzumab, is scheduled for release in June; doctors, however, said that Gant may not have that long.

Gant had been writing cards meant for her son, for those future occasions that she would miss. She held up these cards in the video, and said: “We’re planning out cards and videos and books and passing on our final words and trying to raise our kids from beyond… How sad is that?”

The video has more than thousands of views on YouTube, and was picked up by media companies worldwide. The company behind pertuzumab, Genentech, was inundated with phone calls as a result of the video; eventually, they agreed to release the drug, and last week, Gant received her first dose.

With that, she hopes to have a better quality of life, and get to celebrate one more Mother’s Day. Another hope is that she would be able to personally give one of those cards she wrote – a birthday card – to her son, when he celebrates his birthday in October. She said: “If it gave us two months or a year, that’s priceless for a family.”

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