Angry (yes, more than bitter) about #BitterestPill

April 9th, 2024

When I read MJ’s posts (here and here) that once again Ontario had ignored requests to provide equal access to cancer drug funding to patients, I was angry. Yes, more than bitter. Cancer care advocacy, especially for issues impacting people living with metastatic cancer, can seem like hitting one’s head against the wall. Nonetheless,  I had to do something, so I wrote a letter to the editor. But it wasn’t picked up. MJ asked if Rethink Breast Cancer could publish it instead, and I agreed.  

Things you can do – sign Rethink Breast Cancer’s petition, write the Minister of Health, and let your MPP know about the issue. Thank you.

Here’s my letter [written March 27, 2024]:

“Dear editor,

The Ontario government just released its latest budget. And while the increased spending for health care is hopeful, a small but important need has been overlooked again — cancer drug funding parity. What does cancer drug funding parity mean?  It means provincial support for cancer drugs taken at home (currently not covered) as well as cancer drugs delivered intravenously in the hospital (covered). The western provinces and Quebec cover both kinds of care, but Ontario does not. Well, actually it does cover the cost of take home cancer drugs, but only for people over 65.  

Last week we all witnessed a heartbreaking video of Princess Kate, a 42-year-old mother revealing that she had cancer. We all felt for the incredible stress she must be experiencing. But imagine the additional stress if the preferred treatment was an oral cancer therapy taken at home, and instead of starting right away, the young person, her family, and her doctors had to fight a long bureaucracy to get access to treatment through alternate special programs. These weeks/months matter to health outcomes.

I was also 42 when I was diagnosed with metastatic cancer. But I was living in Alberta when I needed oral chemotherapy, which was provided without delay. I would just like others to receive the same and for Ontario cancer patients of all ages to have equitable access to cancer care.” — Heather Douglas

Read more about #BitterestPill and take-home cancer drugs here.

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