Wednesday, February 26, 2014

help keep the treatments coming

An open letter to everyone who reads this blog:

Did you know that, in Ontario, where I live, public health care pays for drugs administered in the hospital but not (most of the time) for those that are administered orally or at home? I've been extremely fortunate that most of my drugs were covered by OHIP and those few that weren't (mostly for mitigating side effects) were covered by my private insurance.

My friend Sue hasn't been that lucky. The chemotherapy drugs she needs for her lymphoma are best administered at home. As Sue points out, this is less expensive (the overhead costs are low and the possibility of her catching something that would land her in hospital is much lower) but she has been forced to pay for this life-saving treatment herself.

Sue is, without exaggeration, one of the kindest most generous people I have ever known. For many years (I first met her in 1996), she worked in a local pet supply place, where she provided advice and support to countless people and their pets. She seemed to remember every person and animal she met, whether on the street, in the dog park or at the store. She has personally rescued more than 500 dogs but knows how to help without passing judgement. I've never met anyone like her.

Not long ago, the store she worked for was sold to a chain and the new owners decided to lay off the senior staff, in favour of less-experienced minimum wages workers. On Sue's last day, hundreds streamed through to deliver presents, wish her well and give her hugs. She is a very loved part of our community.

When Sue was diagnosed with cancer, she was still without the benefits she lost when she was laid off. There are programs that help with the costs of drugs but they required that she must first drain her bank account of the money she'd received as severance pay and an inheritance from her mother, who passed away recently. So far, she has spent $50,000 of her own money.

She will soon have burned through all her savings and her inheritance. She will qualify for provincial support but will not have money to pay her rent and continue treatment during the waiting period. Will you help us close that gap? An online fundraiser has been set up to "keep the cancer treatments coming." Even if you can't help with a donation, please spread the word. I'm sure that we can reach the fundraising goal of $5000.00.

Sue's story could have been mine. This could happen to someone you know and love. We need to change this arbitrary line drawn by OHIP. But in the short term, let's help Sue, who has given so much help to so many people.

Photo courtesy Sue Breen.


Catherine said...

It is crazy. We are on trillium, which is still dear when every penny counts. I'll be sure to pass along the fundraiser. ~Catherine

Bob said...

This is making me want to stab someone. WRONG WRONG WRONG.

laurie said...

It's incredibly wrong. It all makes me so angry. Thanks for sharing.

Caroline said...

This is also a problem in the US and its called oral parity. Where a drug as an infusion is covered by health insurance and an oral pill taken at home is covered by the pharmaceutical insurance with is very different. Clearly this is an industry wide problem.

Joanne B. said...

I'm familiar with ridiculous crazy OHIP rules!! Good luck Sue!

Unknown said...

It makes me angry.
I was fighting against a cancer stage 4.I think it is very important that family support to win, because i was very weak;really helped me participate in one group of victims of cancer, so my mood improved, also helped me a lot a medical adviser in (they are doctors),this is important .I recomended not surrender, because sometimes the first treatment does not work as me, and sometimes change doctors it is necessary.Read positive thinking books gave me more energy.During my cancer,i changed my diet,now i eat vegetarian organic food(now i not eat meat).I think is a set of things that help me.

Unknown said...

I adore Sue. She is a kind, vibrant woman who is an important part of our community. I will donate today. May I share your blog on Facebook? I think many people would be moved to contribute to somebody who has been, and is, so wonderful. Sue, if you're reading this, please let me know if this is okay with you.

A said...

Hi there, when I was undergoing treatments, all my home-based medication was 2$. OHIP covered the rest. There are many programs like the Trillium Program to cover the costs. Hope this help.

laurie said...

I'm finding the rules on finding to be arbitrary and the furthest thing from transparent. I am so glad you were able to get coverage and have treatment at home. And covered by OHIP? Thanks for sharing this. It's all so confusing. Sue had to drain her bank account because she had her severance pay and an inheritance from her mother. Once this was done and she no longer had enough to cover rent and drugs, Trillium kicked in. It's not a fair system.

Unknown said...
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