Targeted cancer treatment case study: 'I'm so grateful that I can live a normal life'


Mary Bacon, 66, from Cumbria, was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) in 2008. But targeted treatments mean she can now live a normal life.

“Before I was diagnosed, I didn’t know anything about leukaemia, and I put the symptoms I was suffering – bone pain, fatigue – down to old age. So when I found out, I thought the end was near. It was diagnosed in the relatively early stages, so I was lucky. I had an excellent consultant who told me there was a new targeted treatment for the specific genetic mutation I have. Had I been struck with the illness 10 years earlier, I might not have been here now.

I was given Glivec, a drug which deals with the faulty gene which causes the over-production of white blood cells, and I responded well. Now I take nilotinib. There are some side effects, but I’m able to live a normal life. It’s absolutely brilliant news that more people will get targeted treatment. It may not be a cure, but it does mean more people will be able to manage their condition. I’m so grateful to charities like Cancer Research UK who fund such vital work. My daughter Rachel was involved in some of the research work to identify the mutation I have. Normally, scientists don’t get to see the results of their work, but she has seen the positive effect it has had on her own mother.”