Musician Nina Campbell needs costly drug to extend her life

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Musician and singer Nina Campbell with Two Rocks Yanchep Assisted Cancer Travels president Sue Dash. Picture Anita McInnes

MUSICIAN and singer Nina Campbell is used to entertaining people and being a proactive community member but now she needs some support in her battle with metastatic breast cancer.

On November 4 her oncologist told her the drugs she had been taking were no longer working.

There are two other drugs – palbociclib and fulvestrant – she can take to increase the length and quality of her life but palbociclib is expensive.

Pfizer, which produces palbociclib (Ibrance) has a compassionate access scheme providing free access for metastatic breast cancer patients but as Nina has hormone receptor HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer she is not eligible for her medical oncologist to apply for her to access this.

Nina can however, take part in Pfizer’s capped access program for Ibrance.

According to Breast Cancer Network Australia (BCNA) under the program, the patient buys the first eight packs of Ibrance, at a cost of $4850 a pack plus any script fees charged by the pharmacist.

“Once eight packs have been paid for, Pfizer will provide Ibrance free of charge for as long as the patient is clinically benefitting from it,’’ the BCNA website says.

An estimated 19,974 Australians will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2020, according to the Cancer Australia website.

The data sourced from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare estimates that number will include 19,807 females and 167 males.

Nina said there was one pharmacy in the northern suburbs, which does not add on script fees, but patients still have to get there.

A Two Rocks resident for about 16 years Nina has been involved in clubs and organisations such as Sun City Yacht Club, Yanchep & Two Rocks Tourism Network and Two Rocks Yanchep Assisted Cancer Travels and has also fundraised for mental health.

The self-taught piano player also sings, plays guitar and bass but her partner David Hudson was not so keen for her to play the violin.

She describes her music preference as more mixed easy listening, some blues and laid-back tunes.

“I’m not such a fan of rock ‘n’ roll,’’ she said.

“I play a lot of Glen Miller.’’

She loves Chopin but is not a fan of reggae pioneer Bob Marley.

She had just formed her band Forgotten Jewel when she was first diagnosed with cancer.

Her birth name is Willimina but that proved a challenge for most Aussies.

“Australians couldn’t say my name so they called me Nina so for 26 years I’ve had that – I think it’s beautiful.’’

From Pawarenga in the far north of New Zealand she is from a family of 12 where she was one of seven girls.

Her parents were both musicians – her mum, who will be 90 next year, sang while her dad played instruments.

At 14-years-old Nina was performing cabaret in her dad’s band.

“He kicked me out because I told him his songs sucked.’’

She said she is part Cherokee from the Blackfoot tribe and that in the 1800s her great-great-great grandmother, who came to New Zealand on a Spanish slave ship, was “gifted” to her Maori ancestor.

Six years ago she was diagnosed with breast cancer and had one breast removed and then her other breast was removed the following year.

She felt like just a number to the oncologist who was then in charge of her treatment so she became disillusioned and left.

In October 2016 she was diagnosed with secondary breast cancer and she has been on medication since then – she has nothing but praise for her new oncologist.

She had breast reconstruction surgery in 2018.

In October she modelled for a drawing class held at Mary Lindsay Homestead.

If other women in a similar situation want to reach out to her they can contact her on 0422 189 807.

If you want to donate to help Nina go to her Go Fund Me page

The BCNA’s Hope & Hurdles information guide is designed for people who have been diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer.

The guide includes one for HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer