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Cancer victim cries for help

By Jude Njoku

MR. Godwin Chukwuemeka Uwaegbulam, 30, was until recently, a senior staff of Diamond Bank Plc. In January 2009, Uwaegulam who hails from Umuahia in Abia State was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma ( Cancer of the Lymph nodes) at stage IVB.

He started  treatment for the ailment in India in February 2009, undergoing multiple chemotherapy treatments over a one year period.

Mr Uwaegulam who sent a distress appeal from his hospital bed in India recounted his trauma and sought the assistance of well meaning Nigerians to help him live.

“In April 2010, I underwent an autologous stem cell transplant. After the treatment, I was certified healthy until about two months ago when I started having terrible cancer pains and various symptoms indicating disease progression.

“I was asked by my doctors to run certain investigations, including a PET/CT scan, which is not available in Nigeria. I arrived in India Wednesday, January 18, 2012. Results of all scans, blood tests, and investigations show the disease is in a really bad state and something needs to be done urgently in the next couple of weeks,” he said.

...Mr Uwaegbulam on his sick bed

Doctor’s recommendation
Mr Uwaegulam said his doctors have recommended the use of a new drug discovered in the United States last year for the treatment of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. “The drug is called Adcetris (brentuximab vedotin) or SGN-35. The drug is immunotherapy and is non-toxic like its previous counterparts.

It doesn’t destroy other cells of the body like chemotherapy does, but specifically targets Hodgkin’s  Lymphoma cells which have a CD30+ marker on them. So many patients have achieved complete remission with this drug during trials.

Fortunately, the drug can be shipped to India through a single Named Patient Programme and my medical oncologist, Dr. Rakesh Choppra is willing to administer it to me. However, it is very expensive being a new drug. My correspondence with the manufacturers and supplying pharmacies show it is an average of $20,000 per dose.

The US FDA recommends 16 cycles/doses. One dose is taken every 3 weeks through intravenous infusion for 30 minutes as an outpatient basis. This brings total amount needed over 16 months to $352,000 which includes cost of administration and other supportive drugs,” he informed.

Uwaegulam who said he had spent all his life savings, called for aid from Nigerians to enable him live. “Over the years, while battling with this disease, my funds have been depleted. I have had to sell valuable items to meet up with the huge costs. My family, as well as friends and well-meaning individuals have also spent a great deal and sacrificed a lot to support me. As the sickness persisted, I could no longer work and had to quit my job as a banker due to health reasons.

Right now, I am unable to receive this much-needed treatment with this drug because I do not have the money to pay for the expenses.  Your financial support would mean a lot in saving my life and I will be forever grateful,” he pleaded.
Mr Uwaegulam can be reached on this Indian phone number +918588007635


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