Canadian Activist, Ontario on Health Issues

Letter to the Editor;

Given the plethora of media articles of late concerning cancer care in this province, let me get to the bottom line rather quickly with some personal observations.

Trying to figure out the 'system'? Trying to figure out who gets what and do you really 'count'? Given the extent of decades of bureaucracy and politics you will not live long enough, irrespective of a cancer prognosis.

As noted from the recent funding of Herceptin coinciding with the lack of funding for Multiple Myeloma, it is important that you choose your cancer before you are diagnosed. This is a very important decision for very obvious reasons.

Oncologists resorting to telling their 'story' in the media is an insight into what happens behind the scenes. It's a good match really because the patients' voices, with few exceptions, are not being heard either. You can though do something about this though. Join a Community Advisory Committee at your hospital.

They all have them. You're not just 'fluff' after all!

You need also to check on prior research that has been completed. More than likely if it's not 'made in Ontario/Canada', then it needs more research to confirm that, yes, indeed other countries have not made any glaring errors.

Even if the research is done in Ontario, you will most often read 'further research is required to assess...". The question arises as to why the whole mess wasn't assessed in the first place. The term make-work-project comes to mind.

Cancer care in Ontario is not 'free'. Well, duh.

Diagnosed with a high-mortality rate cancer? Sorry, you might consider just giving it up. In the eyes of the decision-makers, you just might not be worth it. Don't believe it? Over the past decade exactly how much in research funding has pancreatic (ex) cancer received - ask.

Do you have a cancer where lifestyle factors which research has not shown to have an impact (ie; smoking, being fat - ugly word) which is 50% of cancers? Blame the patient game certainly takes the pressure off.

No early detection test? Well, no funding, sorry, but we'll have to wait because we can't put any real money into something that doesn't justify the expense. Looking for the logic....

Reduce those waiting lists! If one hospital has a long waiting list then you can simply go to the hospital that has a shorter waiting list. Really? The government says you can, it's your 'right'.

Not enough cancer physicians (specialists)? Well, nurses are greatly undervalued. We don't have enough nurses? That's okay because the plan is to train......

Can't find a family doctor? No problem, we have family health clinics. Pity the poor doctor who needs to spend their 10 minute consultation updating your cancer treatment history. No time left to deal with the current issue and you know, well, we just don't know but you can try.....

LHIN's? It's helpful to disperse power so that it's not in the hands of a few but of the many. Care closer to home is the most important concern? Checked out LHIN maps recently? What kind of care?

Assuming you have any money at all after paying for anti-nausea medications, Immodium or cancer chemotherapy treatments, then you can donate/run/walk to your favourite charity. Yessiree.

Want to talk to your healthcare minister? It depends - who are you?

There's still hope because you can find a few shining lights which exist in our midst, it's just tough to find them sometimes. As a cancer survivour was once quoted: 'Not a born cynic'.

Sandi Pniauskas ovarian cancer survivour

Sandi Pniauskas Letter, October 2005

Advocate letter

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