Shona MacleanBy Shona Maclean is a final year Graduate Diploma Child Nursing student at Birmingham City University and is a regular blogger/contributor to the Nursing Standard

At first glance, this seems like a non-question. Who wouldn’t want more time? No-one wants to die.

But what if the price to be paid is perpetual chemotherapy? Having watched a loved one suffer through its effects, I would not wish an extended period of time on these drugs on anyone. Nevertheless, if my other option was to lose them, the issue suddenly becomes massively more complex. Would I wish for more time, if that time was only filled with pain, suffering, and hospital visits?

While it is easy to say that I would be so grateful for that extra time, it is just as easy to trick ourselves into believing that this just might be a miracle cure, and therefore start hoping where there is no hope. I have worked with families who refuse to accept that their child is dying – are we prolonging their agony by extending their child’s life when ultimately their body has been conquered by the disease?

Add to that the quite phenomenal cost of these drugs. To a struggling NHS, the projected £35,000 per patient for the prostate cancer drug Abiraterone is prohibitively expensive, and can only lead to more postcode lotteries as individual local health authorities choose whether or not they have money to spend on it. Heaven forbid someone be started on one of these drugs only to lose the funding through the ever-increasing cutbacks.

I am left wondering what positive outcomes these drugs could have.

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