Today, April 21, 2016, after many months of advocating on this issue, we are very excited to share the news that the Nova Scotia provincial government will begin funding the Oncotype DX testing in the province, making this essential testing accessible and affordable for all women in NS living with breast cancer!
This type of advocacy work does not happen overnight. It involves a lot of meetings and follow up. And, following up again. And again. And when things stall, you have to kick up a bit of a storm on social media. Thank you so much to those of you “storm inciters” who were so active in tweeting and sharing blog posts. It really made a difference. You helped make this access happen for women in Nova Scotia. Thank you, especially, for the social media traction you gave to “Heather’s story.”
Heather’s story bothered us. And, it bothered a lot of you.
We believe that every eligible patient in Canada should have access to Oncotype DX, regardless of financial situation.
Here’s a little timeline of how we worked together to make this happen:
2012 – Cancer Care Nova Scotia Breast Cancer Site team made a positive recommendation to the Ministry of Health to fund a diagnostic test called Oncotype Dx.
2013 – A Health Technology Assessment was conducted and presented to the Ministry of Health. This assessment determined a positive recommendation on the use of Oncotype Dx.
October 2014 – Rethink Breast Cancer traveled to Nova Scotia to meet with elected officials and oncologists advocating for the funding of Oncotype Dx for breast cancer patients.
October 2014 – Rethink Breast Cancer launched a public engagement advocacy campaign urging the public to write a letter to the Minister of Health voicing their support for the funding of Oncotype Dx. The campaign continued to be promoted through social media.
October 23, 2014 – Opposition Health Critic asked a question to the Minister of Health during Question Period on the timing of a funding decision for Oncotype Dx.
November 2014 – Rethink sent letter to Minister of Health requesting a funding decision for Oncotype Dx.
May 7, 2015 – Opposition Health Critic asked the Minister of Health again in the Legislature on when we can expect a funding decision by the Ministry.
September 2015 – New study in the New England Journal of Medicine shows many women with early, low-risk breast cancer may not need to undergo chemotherapy as part of their treatment plan.
November 2015 – Rethink sent a follow up letter to Minister of Health urging a funding decision be made by the end of 2015. We also shared “Heather’s story.”
December 2015 – Time to Kick Up a Storm! Rethink launched a social media campaign directed at local media and elected officials, including the Premier & Minister of Health, on the lengthy wait times for a funding decision for Oncotype Dx.
December 15, 2015 – Opposition Health Critic asked the Minister once again for an update on the funding of Oncotype DX and if we can expect it’s funding to be included in the Spring budget.
December/ January – Local media picked up the story in both radio and print.
April 1, 2016 – Nova Scotia makes budget announcement but no details released. Rethink follows up behind the scenes in search of information about status of Oncotype DX funding.
April 19, 2016 – Receive word that Nova Scotia government has confirmed funding for Oncotype DX in Nova Scotia and we are anticipating a formal announcement by the Ministry of Health very soon.
Throughout this entire campaign, we were constantly in contact with elected officials, healthcare providers and patients in Nova Scotia urging them to raise their voices in support of the funding for Oncotype Dx in Nova Scotia. And we asked our supporters to help make this happen. You did.
Thank you! – MJ DeCoteau