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.


Health care in Canada – yay!

Today is the 28th of November. As of today, my husband Zsolt is now fully integrated into the Canadian system (short of being a citizen). He has his license, he has his residence cards, and finally he has his health care too.

Three months after arriving to Canada, Zsolt is now eligible for health care. Why he’s not eligible from the date of arrival is a real mystery to me. Because it’s not like he arrived in Canada unscreened – he gave blood, he had his eyes checked, he had an x-ray, he had a physical . . . basically, they declared him healthy before allowing him to touch down in Canada. And then we still had to wait three months before he became eligible for OHIP.

If it sounds like I’m complaining, that’s because I am. Considering we played by the rules, it annoys me that he had this waiting period.

However, bright side is that he’s now all settled in. Yay for that!  We’re still in my parent’s basement ( it’s lovely down here with the fire) and things are slowly settling. It’s my hope that sooner than later we both see Canada as ‘home sweet home’, but I realize that takes time. It took time in England, it will take time here too – even though I am Canadian. Making a place your home takes an investment of time, interests and relationships.  That had all been done in England, so transferring everything  back here is honestly a challenge.

But what’s life without challenges? Boring, I reckon. Boo for boring. Yay for healthcare!

Meet Dr Canada

This blog is for Lulu, who wanted to hear about my day.

Dad and I went to the Cancer Centre at the local hospital this afternoon. Fancy! This place is far more airy, comfortable and simply nicer looking than what I’ve been used to visiting. Mind you, I have no complaints toward the NHS service in England, but first impressions with the Canadian version are quite positive.

Arriving at the hospital we were shown into a consultation room. My height and weight were taken, followed by a quick chat with the nurse. She gave me some emergency contact details and arranged for my blood to be taken. It’s so funny hearing the Canadian accent, which on one hand sounds perfectly normal, but on the other hand so incredibly different. I suppose this is my first Canadian nurse. Anyhow, she was very friendly.

Next came in my Canadian Oncologist. Funny, I had expected an older and smaller man – nope, Dr Canada is tall and impressive. Again he oozed confidence, but also has this hard to describe sensitivity. I can feel that he cares.  We went over my situation and he provided his perspective on several interesting matters (eg. ovary suppression vs tamoxifan, genetic testing, MRI vs mammogram), so that was interesting. He then checked my chest – said it felt okay, and ordered two weeks worth of chemo.

I often feel paranoid about my chest – like, near daily self-inspection type paranoid. Chances are other breast cancer survivors feel a similar anxiety. It’s hard to trust your body again after it betrays you in this way. There is the fear of cancer returning, though when the doctor quotes a 50/50 prognosis, no wonder there’s fear. And fear and hope. Depends on the day/hour you ask me.

Anyhow, I feel confident in my Canadian oncologist, and when I come back to Ottawa will most certainly reach out to him again.

After our meeting I went up to the chemo lounge (whoa – still so fancy) and had a blood test, following which we loaded into the car and crawled our way home along the 417. I was nearly sick to my stomach by the time we finally pulled into the driveway. Night driving needs to be removed from the menu; doesn’t sit well with my stomach.

So there we go. That was today. Tomorrow will be another something, but I probably won’t write about it immediately . . .  we’ll see.

In any case, I think things will be fine. Fingers crossed. TWO MORE LEFT!!