Walter Pike crowdfunds cancer fight after medical aid refuses to pay
Cancer patient Walter Pike expects he will live for just three more years if medical aid scheme FedHealth continues to refuse to pay for “effective” experimental treatment and insists he gets chemo instead.
Pike‚ 60‚ has now turned to crowdfunding to fund the targeted radionuclide therapy for his prostate cancer.
“It is working and nothing else will work. If I go with what the medical aid says and get chemotherapy‚ I will be dead in three years. If I keep with this‚ I will probably go into remission‚” he said.
First diagnosed with cancer in 2014‚ Pike has undergone surgery and various treatments to stop the disease’s spread. But in December doctors found Pike’s cancer was castrate resistant and still growing. “Usually that’s the last stage of prostate cancer. The testosterone‚ which I don’t produce any longer‚ is not keeping the cancer under control.” he said.
Turning to his social media circles‚ the media strategist learnt of the new treatment he believes will save his life.
Pike approached pioneering doctors at the Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Pretoria’s department of nuclear medicine and tests confirmed he was a suitable candidate for the treatment.
“This is a very young treatment. It has been used in Germany and Australia in trial stages and in this last week it has been approved by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) in the USA for extensive final clinical trials.
“It uses a compound called prostate-specific membrane antigen‚ which identifies and settles onto prostate cancer cells wherever they happen to be in the body.”
The approach‚ called theranostics‚ had lowered Pike’s prostate-specific antigen score by 36% in December – after just one treatment.
FedHealth admits the treatment is promising but will not pay‚ after concluding an investigation into Pike’s funding request.
“The final conclusion is that this treatment is an experimental treatment with no high-quality evidence showing additional benefits over standard existing treatment protocols‚” spokesperson Jeremy Yatt said.
It said the treatment is not registered by the Medicines Control Council.
“Medical schemes are not-for-profit organisations and we cannot fund procedures where the clinical outcomes are untested. We cannot fund treatment based on emotional factors.”
Pike said he finds FedHealth’s reasoning irrational given his medical results – “It puts me on death row” - but has found support elsewhere.
In three days crowdfunding efforts raised more than R50‚000.
“I’ve been completely blown away by the support‚ which has allowed me to go back to Steve Biko Academic Hospital and ask them to schedule my next treatment.”
Pike requires four treatments‚ six to eight weeks apart‚ costing about R70‚000 each.
Pike’s online petition‚ calling on FedHealth to reconsider‚ had almost 400 supporters in one day.
“I really want to break open the medical aid’s resistance to funding treatment like this because there are many people in my position.”