Today I opened my twitter account to find a message from an old friend. She forwarded me a link (this link, in fact) to a Globe and Mail article discussing how a woman, Jill Anzaru who has breast cancer is not eligible for the needed medication coverage. Why? Because her tumour was too small. The cancer in her breast was too small. . .still cancer, but small. Less than 1 cm.
My head is shaking.
Yes, I understand lines need to be drawn – but you would think that cancer would be more black and white. Did you get cancer? Okay, here’s the treatment. I’m in a similar situation; at the moment while living in the UK, my tamoxifen is covered. Tamoxifen is a drug that significantly drops the likelihood of reoccurrence in breast cancer patients (like Herceptin, this lady’s needed med). In the UK I am covered because I had cancer. In Ontario I’m not covered.
Because I’m under 65 years old. Yes, I had breast cancer – but too early for coverage. Luckily for me, Tamoxifen is an affordable medication. Unlucky for Jill and her too-small CANCER tumour, her medication costs a whack load of cash (if you even have a whack load of cash to spend, apparently Herceptin costs about $40,000/year for treatment).
Fighting cancer is expensive, and with so many patients I understand that guidelines need to be drawn. Right. But with that said, common sense has got to be employed. A thirty-five year old woman gets cancer. One of the first things they tell you as a young BC fighter is that, ‘considering your age the doctor is likely to recommend an aggressive therapy,’ because we have a long road (i.e. life) ahead of ourselves, and we need to fight with all possible weapons. Obviously, that includes medication.
I’m sorry to hear this woman needs to battle for better, affordable treatment. She’s just about to start chemotherapy, and I remember that apprehension and fear. There’s already one fight going on between you and your body, anything extra is just not okay – heck, I got stressed out when Air Canada gave me trouble over a flight home. Just imagine her anxiety over a fight for her future.
Anyhow – Jill, if you can hear me : I’m wishing you loads of courage, strength, and determination. Hopefully common sense grants you the medication. Fingers crossed.
P.S. I am glad to hear your cancer was caught early. Despite all these troubles, that in itself is a very good thing.