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Drug funding battler dies of brain cancer

Posted on: 06/22/2006

Drug funding battler dies of brain cancer

23 June 2006

A week ago Dave Bowman was fronting up for more chemotherapy in a last-ditch bid to keep an aggressive brain tumour at bay.

"He was a battler to the end," his wife Penny said.

But yesterday he finally ran out of fight.

The Raumati former policeman and father of two, 36, died at Mary Potter Hospice after an 18-month battle with brain cancer.

Much of that time was spent campaigning for government funding for brain tumour drug Temodal, which can significantly improve survival when combined with radiation therapy.

With the help of community fundraising, the Bowmans paid about $57,000 for nine rounds of the drug – Mr Bowman's best chance at buying more time with his young boys Daniel and Zac.

The couple set up a website to help other brain tumour sufferers and, even when it was clear funding would not benefit his own family, Mr Bowman organised a public rally to Parliament and continued to campaign to get the drug approved and funded for patients with newly-diagnosed tumours.

Though he lost his own fight, Mr Bowman left behind a legacy his family is proud of – Government drug-buying agency Pharmac agreed in March to fund the drug.

Mrs Bowman believed Temodal had bought the family a year of quality time, saying the cost had been worth every cent.

"The 12 months from diagnosis were awesome. We went to America and Australia, he caught his first snapper with the boys, we took the boys snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef, things other brain tumour patients could not have done. Those 12 months could have been at 50 per cent. We knew it was not a cure, but his quality of life was tremendous."

International Brain Tumour Alliance chairman Denis Strangman said Mr Bowman was "an extraordinary person".

"He was like a persistent terrier who got hold of the trouser cuffs of bureaucrats, parliamentarians and doctors, and wouldn't let go."

Wellington cancer specialist Peter Dady believed Mr Bowman's fight had been "hugely instrumental" in persuading the authorities to fund Temodal.

"Dave was a force of nature. He was a big man with a personality to match. He was absolutely determined to fight this. He fought for himself but he also fought on behalf of others and that would be his memorial."

Mr Bowman's funeral will be held at Southward Car Museum auditorium at noon on Tuesday.

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