Aucklander Troy Elliott, whose wife Tracey's cancer has spread to her brain, is putting their house on the market tomorrow to pay for expensive cancer drugs.
Elliott was a special guest at the National Party's annual conference today and applauded its announcement today to put $200 million over four years towards proven cancer drugs.
National would also set up an independent, expert-led cancer agency to get rid of the "postcode lottery" system that currently provides different treatment to different patients, depending on where they live.
National leader Simon Bridges said the agency would be involved in prevention, screening and treatment. DHBs would be held accountable to the agency for the targets and indicators the agency set.
If Pharmac didn't use the extra $50 million a year over four years, it wouldn't receive the funding.
Elliott said his wife's breast cancer, which was diagnosed in 2014, had recently spread to her brain and there was only one drug that kept her alive.
But kadcyla is not Pharmac-funded, and the Elliotts have to pay $3000 a week, or over $120,000 a year, for the treatment.
"We can't afford to keep our house. Our house goes on the market tomorrow to sell because we have to be able to pay for this drug to keep Tracey alive.
"Like a lot of New Zealanders, we put ourselves out on Givealittle. Over 4500 pages on Givealittle are over cancer. It's become a surrogate Pharmac.
"We don't want to be feeling like we're a third world country when it comes to cancer. The drug is fully funded in the UK and Australia. It's not a trial drug or something that's alternative."
He said the drug had so far reduced the size of Tracey's tumour significantly.
Melissa Vining, whose husband Blair's bowel cancer drove him to send a 140,000-strong petition to Parliament calling for better cancer treatment, said the last item on Blair's bucket list was one step closer.
"We are thrilled that there is a commitment for the establishment of an independent cancer agency that will focus its attention on the war against cancer, ensuring accountability of DHB's to deliver the cancer care, prevention & early detection for all New Zealanders," Melissa Vining said.
"We are so grateful to the public for working so hard to gather the many signatures for Blair's petition that ultimately has led to cancer care becoming a priority to the politicians."
Labour's 2017 pledged to set up a national cancer agency to reduce the inconsistent treatment around the country.
Asked if he was stealing Labour's thunder, Bridges said: "If Labour were so keen on this, talked a big game in opposition, why don't they get on and do it."
Health Minister David Clark said the Government would be making announcements on its plan for cancer care in the coming weeks.
"National needs to say how it will pay for its Cancer Drugs Fund and whether funding for other drugs or other services will be cut to pay for it," Clark said.
"National's announcement won't speed up early access to new medicines – something many people living with cancer have been calling for, and something the Government is looking at actively."
The Cancer Society welcomed National's announcement and called for a national expert leadership to be appointed, free from political interference.
"Our outcomes have been falling further behind our cousins in Australia and Canada because successive governments have dropped the ball on cancer," the society's medical director Dr Chris Jackson said.
"That's why we need experts appointed to lead the cancer programme nationally, free from political interference, and the funding for them to do their job.
"The last National government abolished the Cancer Control Council, so we're pleased to see that they've changed their minds about national cancer leadership."