A Petition for #FairCancerCare

This is just one of the many reasons, and many stories lived and/or heard, that make me want to support #FairCancerCare:

When I was told it was definitely breast cancer in my lungs, I was also told it was slightly estrogen receptive. That means it kinda likes to eat estrogen. (A change from the first time, when it really liked to eat estrogen.) My options in this case involved hormone therapy.

Except I’d already been on Tamoxifen, the only breast cancer hormone therapy I know of for women before menopause, and it had stopped working.

That meant I needed to but put into menopause.

I would be put (back) on Zoladex, I was told, which is a drug that puts your ovaries to sleep. Zoladex is not covered by OHIP. The oncologist wasn’t sure if it would help, but he figured we should try that first and foremost before doing anything else. Except. . . except that monthly shot costs about 500 bucks a pop. Or I could pay 1500 a go and get the three month shot.

But insurance would pay for it.


Oh wait, you don’t have insurance? Well then, you need to have your ovaries removed via surgery.


That is seriously what I was told. And if this post seems a bit fragmented in pace, it’s because to this day I’m stupefied by the solution to my struggling to afford medication – cut out perfectly healthy pieces of my body, despite there being an effective pill that could do the same thing minus the traumatic surgery.

Ultimately I was able to get onto Trillium because we’re a lower income family. Though even that has had its challenges – and of course I am grateful to have that. But for many others they end up paying loads out of pocket (not on the table here, but also worth mentioning is the cost of alternative treatments. Wouldn’t it be lovely if the cost of complimentary health care was built into our treatment plans?)


Anyhow, for many, many reasons, I want to direct you to #FairCancerCare, an online petition for Ontario healthcare that moves for more treatment coverage. They want to gather signatures before the provincial election to bring urgency to these needs.

“As Canadians, many of us are understandably proud of our health care system. In Ontario, most of us believe that, should we ever be unfortunate enough to get cancer, OHIP will cover us. Unfortunately, in far too many cases this doesn’t happen.

Sometimes, the very best treatment that your doctor prescribes for your cancer is not covered by provincial insurance. Patients have to choose between a fully-covered treatment plan that may be less effective, or following the recommendation of their doctor and paying the high cost for chemotherapy out of pocket.

This is two-tiered health care. Wealthy patients and those with good private insurance have access to the best care. Those who are not so lucky either go deeply in debt or take their chances with what OHIP will cover.

In 2014, no Ontario cancer patient should be accumulating thousands of dollars of debt. And yet it’s happening more often than most of us would think.”

If  agree with their mission, then do sign the petition and please share their campaign.


11 thoughts on “A Petition for #FairCancerCare

  1. Absolutely! Such an important reminder for us in all corners of the world. We assume that health systems in developed countries mean that there is equity of treatment when as you highlight, there is not. And moreso, the care options do not necessarily make sense medically or economically.

  2. my good friend had her ovaries out because of breast cancer, but not because it was cost saving! geez! what a world.

    my medication cost almost $2,000/month and luckily is covered by my husband’s health plan. but it astounds me that drug companies can charge this much.

  3. Pardon me but…WHAT A LOAD OF CRAP!!! I guess I “assumed” that Canadian healthcare was SO MUCH better than what the US offers, but this? This is….ridiculous! OMG. I’m stunned. Girl, if you are unable to pay for any future drugs or treatments, have a fundraiser. I will chip in and I know others will, too. Don’t hesitate. This is your life we’re talking about here. #$%^@ Urgh!

    I’m going to sign the petition, now.


      • To give a little perspective to your American readers, we’ve been going through the same kind of politics up here for the last 30 or 40 years – cutting and cutting and cutting taxes and services every few years, with this narrative that the tax cuts will eventually “trickle down” to everyone. We’ve had a few very conservative leaders at both the federal and provincial levels during that time, who either don’t believe in public health care at all, or believe in a system where a public option exists but those with money get access to (better) private care. And like the US, the discussion on taxes has become so toxic that even the more left leaning parties have had to track right to have any hope of getting elected.

        The difference is that we had a public health care system beforehand, whereas the US didn’t. They’ve continually trimmed benefits from our public health care as the budgets got tighter and tighter, to the point we’re at now. The logic is the same as in the US – if we can cut a service to the point where it’s crippled, the public will do away with it out of sheer frustration, and then the politicians don’t have to be upfront about their ideology. Canada is currently led by an American-style conservative who has reduced tax revenue by hundreds of billions of dollars, then tells people we “don’t have money” to pay for services, then cuts those services further, etc etc. One of the frontrunners in the current Ontario election is a “Progressive” Conservative (an Orwellian term we use up here for one of the parties) who proposes to cut Ontario’s corporate tax rate – one of the lowest in North America – to the single digits, and then fire a bunch of public employees – again, reducing Ontario’s tax revenue, which is what funds health care.

        Hopefully that provides a bit of background. For the people saying “I thought Canada’s system was better” – well it is 99% of the time, even at its current reduced level. But the way it was originally conceived, it would be better all the time. Unfortunately that can’t happen in a climate where people refuse to pay fairly high taxes. Canadians are in a weird position where they envy American tax rates, but would rather have Swedish-level services. And for people who don’t have to interact with the system at the level Catherine does, it can sometimes seem like we can have both. This is how the political becomes personal.

        I don’t necessarily mean to demonize a particular ideology. Many people are happy to have low taxes, and cover whatever expenses arise in life out of their personal wealth. That’s a valid viewpoint as long as one is willing to accept everything that goes along with it. But we need to be honest about the real-life effects of those decisions. Personally, I’m happy if my friends can get medications they need, even if it means I get a few hundred bucks less back at the end of the year. Too often, people think our political decisions happen in some kind of abstract, but the situation Catherine outlines here is about as real as it gets.

        OK, that’s your Canada/US political background lesson for the day! Sorry to do this to your blog Catherine, but I thought it was important to point out 🙂

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  5. In the US they will give you different treatment based on what is covered by your insurance. I had always thought the Canadian health system was better. Hmmm… I guess the grass isn’t always greener. Good for you on getting the word out!

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