Swindon AdvertiserSpecial night to pay tribute to Swindon cancer campaigner Ann Marie Rogers (From Swindon Advertiser)

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Special night to pay tribute to Swindon cancer campaigner Ann Marie Rogers

Swindon Advertiser: Ann Marie Rogers Ann Marie Rogers

IT may be four years since lost Ann Marie Rogers lost her battle with breast cancer, but she will never be forgotten by her family, friends and the thousands of women whose lives she touched up and down the country.

Ann Marie, who grew up in Pinehurst but lived in Highworth when she died, hit national headlines in 2005 when she took her battle for wonder drug Herceptin on the NHS to the High Court.

At the time, Herceptin was a trial drug and Ann Marie wanted it to fight her cancer as it was being used on women with advanced cancers.

But Swindon Primary Care Trust said it would not fund the drug until its safety was confirmed by licence and then by drug watchdog the National Institute For Clinical Excellence.

In February 2006 she lost her fight when a judge ruled that the PCT’s stance was “not unlawful.”

Within days of the decision the company which manufactured the drug said it was applying for permission to provide the drug to people in the early stages of cancer – such as Ann Marie.

Two months later, Ann Marie appealed the judge’s decision and won.

Now, to keep her memory alive, her younger sister Bev, 56, will host a fundraising evening to celebrate her life and courage at the Moonrakers pub, where she is landlady with her husband Pete.

Bev said: “The event will be held on what would have been Ann Marie’s birthday – we thought we would hold an event to raise some money for Prospect Hospice, which I’m sure she would approve of, and I am putting on some entertainment which I know she would have loved.

“It has been four years now and I want people to remember her and see her lovely face again on all the posters.”

Since Ann Marie’s campaign, thousands of women have benefited from the drug, which, if given for a year following standard chemotherapy, can improve their chances of survival.

Bev said: “At the time we all just thought she was amazing – she was mortified when she was diagnosed, but she took her own life in her hands, she sold her house to try and fund the drug and she was ecstatic when she won the case at the High Court.

“It was too late for her, but now there are thousands of women using it, and I’d love for some of them to come along on the night so I can hear their stories. It makes me feel so proud of her.

“She was so strong, she loved her family, she was very family orientated.

“She had a good sense of humour and she just loved life. She fought so hard to the very end.

“I think she would love the fact that everyone is remembering her and having a glass of wine for her.”

The event takes place at the Moonrakers from 8pm on Saturday, February 2.

Entry is free and there will be entertainment from Frank Abrams, Sister Sister, Dreamgirls drag act, Dylan and more.

There will also be a raffle on the night and all money raised will go to Prospect Hospice.

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