Cancer victim Ann Marie Rogers, who won a landmark legal victory yesterday over the funding of the drug Herceptin, said the "humanitarian" ruling had given her back her future.

The mother-of-three declared in an emotional statement outside London's Law Courts: "I feel like I've taken on the world and beaten it, not just for me but for everyone else."

Mrs Rogers, aged 54, went to court to fight a refusal by Swindon Primary Care Trust to provide her with Herceptin to treat her breast cancer, a stand she likened to a "death sentence".

Her battle paid off when three Court of Appeal judges yesterday overturned an earlier decision by a High Court judge that Swindon's policy of only paying out for "exceptional cases" was not irrational and unlawful.

In a unanimous judgment the Master of the Rolls Sir Anthony Clarke, Lord Justice Brooke and Lord Justice Buxton announced that "the primary care trust's policy with respect to Herceptin was irrational and so unlawful" and ordered the quashing of its decision in Mrs Rogers's case.

Grandmother-of-two Mrs Rogers, a former restaurant manager of Haydon Wick, Swindon, will now continue to receive Herceptin as long as her oncologist prescribes it.

Outside court, Mrs Rogers wept and hugged well-wishers, saying: "I couldn't have asked for a better verdict, I did this for all women battling this dreadful disease.

"I believe everyone prescribed this treatment by their doctor should be given the same healthcare wherever they live.

"I can now look towards the future and have more confidence that I will win this battle against breast cancer.

"I am extremely grateful to the judges in the Court of Appeal for this humanitarian judgment."

After the PCT's decision in her case, Mrs Rogers borrowed #5,000 for treatment with the drug - said to halve the chances of a recurrence of her HER-2 form of breast cancer - but said she could not afford to pay for further courses.

After her case reached court - the first of is kind to do so - she received treatment pending the outcome of her appeal.

The PCT was refused permission to appeal to the House of Lords, but it can apply direct.

Jan Stubbings, chief executive of Swindon Primary Care Trust, said in a statement after the ruling: "Although the judgment said generally our policy on funding is lawful, we accept that when considering this case and exceptional circumstances we should have taken costs into account to make our decision more rational.

"Following this new judgment we will now revisit our policy taking into consideration the points made by the court.

"In the meantime, it has been agreed that we will continue to provide Herceptin for Mrs Rogers.

"Although we believe that in this complex case no one has won or lost, the PCT is required to pay for reasonable legal costs on behalf of Mrs Rogers.

"The PCT will continue to treat all patients now and in the future with care and consideration. The health of all our residents in Swindon borough and Shrivenham is of the utmost importance and we are committed to helping improve their health and addressing health needs within the funding allocated to us.

"We look forward to decisions from both the EMEA (European Medicines Agency) and NICE (National Institute of Clinical Excellence) regarding the licensing and future use of Herceptin and we wish Mrs Rogers well in her treatment."

Mrs Stubbings said the total legal bill now faced by the PCT for the Rogers case would be around #300,000.

Barbara Clark, the former nurse from Bridgwater, Somerset, who fought to receive Herceptin on the NHS, said she was delighted that Mrs Rogers had won her appeal.

Ms Clark, aged 49, said: "This is absolutely wonderful news for Ann Marie.

"This is going to have major implications for women in need of Herceptin across the country."

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