Six months after presenting petitions to Parliament calling for better access to life-prolonging medicine, Sue Wall-Cade and Tracy Barr-Smith today have the ear of those who could make change.

The two Tauranga women have each been diagnosed with stage four metastatic breast cancer, also known as advanced breast cancer. They don't know how much longer they have to live but are fighting for the chance to extend their lives, and the lives of others living with advanced cancers, by speaking to New Zealand's Health Select Committee.

Read more: Tauranga women fighting cancer, and fighting the system

The women, known as Metavivors, will express their heartache that life-prolonging medicine Ibrance and Kadcyla - funded in other western countries - are not funded in New Zealand. The drugs are believed to extend a cancer patient's life by two to three years.

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Sue Wall-Cade is part of a group of women with advanced breast cancer hoping to get funding for the drugs Ibrance and Kadcyla. Photo / NZME
Sue Wall-Cade is part of a group of women with advanced breast cancer hoping to get funding for the drugs Ibrance and Kadcyla. Photo / NZME

"If we don't do this and don't start talking about it, then who will?" Barr-Smith said.

Barr-Smith and Wall-Cade join about 18 others presenting verbal submissions to the committee, which invited feedback on the subject after the women helped present two petitions to Parliament in October.

The petitions asked for better access to drugs Ibrance and Kadcyla, which had a lower priority status than treatment for erectile dysfunction, as confirmed by Pharmac last year.

"We certainly feel as though the Health Select Committee is very interested in listening to what we have to say. After that though, it's out of our hands and we have to just trust in the process and hope the Health Select Committee makes a recommendation around the funding," Barr-Smith said.

Wall-Cade said she was nervous to speak in such a formal setting "but the only thing to fear is cancer itself".

"If our actions have an impact in how the processes work and we see change, you couldn't ask for better," she said.

Wall-Cade referred to the petitions, signed by more than 30,000 people throughout New Zealand.

Tracy Barr-Smith has stage four metastatic breast cancer and is joining others calling for better access to life prolonging drugs. Photo / file
Tracy Barr-Smith has stage four metastatic breast cancer and is joining others calling for better access to life prolonging drugs. Photo / file

"[This message] It's coming from the people of New Zealand. It's very special. I think we are very laid back as a nation but now we are saying 'Sorry, this isn't good enough'."

Support groups Breast Cancer Aotearoa Coalition (BCAC), Breast Cancer Foundation NZ, and Sweet Louise have also made submissions.

Read more: Tracy Barr-Smith's fight for a longer life

BCAC chairwoman Libby Burgess said their submissions together "show that many people care deeply about the women who are being denied treatment".

"Let's hope the Health Select Committee members are moved by the evidence and the stories and accept that it's their responsibility to do the right thing."