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Something has to be done for better health care, but how?


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Forgive me if this is in the wrong area, and not exactly coherent, but I'm mad as hell, and tired from getting minimal sleep so far this week. I'm hoping that most of it only applies to the way things are in Canada. I shudder to think that the US system is as bad.

I'm all for the Oprah-doing-a-show-on-LC idea. People shouldn't have to live through the nightmare I (and likely many of you) have gone through. Unfortunately, it probably won't be done until someone close to them (the hosts) goes through this horror.

I live in Canada, home of "universal health care". I used to be somewhat proud of that. No longer. We've known that there's been something seriously wrong with mom since July, when a CT scan on her abdomen for an unrelated ailment showed a "mass" on the right lung. Before that, her physician discounted her complaint as being "in her head".

Further waits for CT scans, a GP that doesn't seem to care because he's retiring in a month), a bronc, biopsies and looong waits for results found us finally getting a confirmed dx in early September. So of course then we need to see an oncologist. Oh, theres at least a 2 week wait for that - even though the referring Dr says it's urgent+++. Other people in the "profession" tell me that 2 weeks is good. The waits in other parts of the country are 3-4 weeks or longer.

"You don't understand, she has Small Cell cancer and is having trouble breathing!". "Sorry - we'll fit you in when we can". I tried pulling some strings through an acquaintance who was willing to help, at a hospital an hour away. "Sorry we can't help, but she needs to be on chemo NOW!".

I even thought that we'd have better luck crossing the border into the US, and paying cash for help. I'd sell my house if I had to and gladly pay them. 3 and a half week wait. Course that might just be because it's a high profile facility but still!

Finally, I thought "to heck with it" picked mom up, took her to emergency, where we waited for 4 hours to see a Dr. and then waited another 3 hours for them to tell us that they were keeping her overnight so she could see an oncologist in the am. Well, she finally did see an oncologist - at 5 pm later that day.

That was yesterday (I think -I'm not even sure what planet I'm on right now). She started Chemo today. I never thought I'd be so happy to say "my mom is on chemo!" I had a nagging feeling that the oncologist was going to tell us that there was nothing he could do. I know this ride has just started and I'm exhausted already. What about people that don't have people like me who won't take "no" for an answer?

Now my point to all this rambling is - I think I know why the survival stats are so bad - you can't get in to see a (expletive considered) oncologist.

I used to be very pro AIDS research. I still am - to a point, but it's only been recently that I learned how little is spend on Lung Cancer Research. I don't mean to be nasty, but I find myself not caring as much about Breast Cancer as I used to. That bothers me probably just as much if not more than it bothers you hearing it. Perhaps when the powers that be decide to spend more than 1,000 per lung cancer death on research I will.

Today I got 2 flyers in the mail for the annual Cancer Lottery (which has taken on a whole new meaning in our family). "Help raise funds to develop new drugs to fight cancer and find a cure". I agree that new drugs are necessary, but wouldn't some of that money be better spent ensuring that the people who would take even "old" drugs in a timely manner could do so?

I have a complete understanding and empathy for the man reported on the news today for trying to "buy" a place on a waiting list for medical treatment.

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hi deruo,

i'm so sorry that you and your mother had to go through all of that. i'm really glad to see that you were very aggressive in helping her find treatment so quickly. i want to reassure you that you are not alone in this. even here in the states, there are numerous problems that can arise in finding timely treatment (and i live in los angeles where there are a plethora of really good hospitals and doctors). i have run into trouble with getting authorization from my mom's insurance company because of "asinine" things such as the onco's description of why my mom would need wbr is unclear (thus delaying her treatment). i know there must be a better way to efficiently faciliate medical treatment for those that need it, but for the life of me, i can't even begin to figure out how to help improve the system. i think that since it is such a personal thing for us, it makes it even more difficult because we have our emotions involved. but i think that you really did the right thing by being so aggressive, and i think that is an essential key to getting better and expedited medical treatment. i think by being a blase patient and thinking that all doctors/hospitals know best that we will often just be swept under the proverbial rug. by being vigilant and aggressive, i think those are the ways to deal with the loopholes that are evident in any medical system, no matter where you live. i hope that things get a bit easier for you and your mom. i know that fighting this disease is already enough weight on your shoulders. take care.

God bless,


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I worked in Canada health care about 10+ yrs ago. It was really different from the U.S. Some things they do up there are great. As because so many people get allergies to certain weeds ( as ragweed), they have made a law against letting them grow on your property. It is excellent for free annual physicals and prevention. Here in the states if you are in the ER for 5 or 6 hours, people are up in arms. While I was there they passed a law you could not be in the ER for more than a week, they had to find a bed, or send you home. People in the US are rarely in the hospital for a week, there people stayed months. I must say that the people I worked with were very caring. Donna G

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