To suffer cancer and battle the disease is one thing and to realize that it could send your cash reserves to naught is another. The drain in health and resources may just be the last nail in the coffin.
Cancer patients seem to coughing up more than they can afford in Ontario hospitals to find reprieve with newer and more effective drugs. Sadly, the new drugs are not funded by the government but are frequently prescribed by Oncologists.
Julia Lelik, a breast cancer patient in her fifties said, "People shouldn't suffer if they don't have to. When you go to chemotherapy, you see it every day. I think people should have access to the best drugs."
It is no longer news that the provincial government does not sponsor the drug needed to treat metastatic breast cancer. Patients encounter huge charges for treatment ranging from $16,000 to $24,000. Some people get lucky and receive the go ahead from the government, depending upon the merit of their case.
The ruling to allow patients pay up for effective but non funded drugs is only nine-months old; it came as a breath of fresh air to the many who would otherwise need to avail the treatment from other places, like the United States. Though the decision was embroiled in controversy, yet it seemed to be the best thing at that point in time.
The issue which is hotting up currently is the inaction on the part of the government to remedy the process of funding for newer cancer drugs. Amid the simmering issue, it is a tough call for doctors who are in a catch 22 situation, said Susan Dent, medical oncologist at the Ottawa Hospital Regional Cancer Centre.
Colleen Savage, president and chief executive officer of the Canadian Advocacy Coalition of Canada said, "On the one hand, we want to be careful that we don't create a situation where people are suddenly cut off from their treatments. On the other hand, this is clearly a solution that benefits only those people who happen to have deep pockets or very good third-party insurance"
The drugs being sold to patients extend life, offset recurrence and are less harmful for the system. A medical treatment that is absolutely necessary must be funded by the government, is the fervent appeal of activists. Till the government takes a stand on the issue, the cancer patients are left with little choice , either to take it or leave it.