How the government is helping cancer survivors, parents of cancer survivors and other cancer survivors in BC
Posted On August 1, 2021
A health care system that was built to help people living with cancer, but also provides care for people living in the community, is struggling to keep pace with the rising number of people living cancer-free.
More than 20 per cent of BC adults are living with the disease, up from about 10 per cent in 2006, according to Statistics Canada data.
Health care providers in BC have been trying to do their part to ensure they are able to keep patients, their families and loved ones safe.
The provincial government recently announced that it will provide $1 million over the next two years to help cancer survivors pay for cancer care.
“The BC government is committed to working with communities and families to ensure the care and support they need to get well,” said Health Minister Terry Lake in a statement.
But that support is often not enough.
The province has spent $2 billion to date on cancer-specific programs and health care facilities.
A new report released by the BC Centre for Excellence in Cancer Care and Prevention says BC’s cancer-care infrastructure is struggling, with funding for cancer-related care falling by nearly 20 per in the past decade.
Some provinces have had success with their cancer-focused initiatives.
The Ontario government recently launched a pilot program in B.C. and Manitoba, and the Ontario-based cancer foundation has been working to expand access to treatment in Quebec and Ontario.
But for people like Bhanja Bhatia, the biggest challenge facing the province is how to help those who can’t afford to pay for care.
Bhatie was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014, and has had to fight for every cent of the cost of her treatment.
She lost her husband, her father and three children to breast cancer.
I have cancer and I’m trying to pay my bills and the bills of my children, but my husband has to pay,” she said.
When she was in the hospital, Bhatias husband died, and her mother had to work two jobs just to keep her family afloat.
Since her diagnosis, Bhatti has tried to make ends meet on her own.
She started working part-time as a nurse, but she is worried about how much she can pay for her care.
Bhatia and other BC residents are trying to help each other pay for the bills they can’t pay. “
They just want me to be there for them, and I just want to go back to work and make more money, so I can go back home and keep them safe,” she told The Canadian Press.
Bhatia and other BC residents are trying to help each other pay for the bills they can’t pay.
Bhattia has set up a GoFundMe page to help her pay her bills.
Another resident, Sarah Wylie, is working to help pay for medical bills that her husband is unable to pay.
Sarah is a cancer survivor herself.
When she was diagnosed, she spent two years in hospital and lost all her income.
Now, she is trying to make her husband’s medical bills pay for his treatment, but it takes a lot of hard work to do so.
“It’s so frustrating,” she explained.
Bhattia says the government needs to be more proactive in the way it funds health care for cancer survivors.
“If you don’t have enough money to cover it, you need to be able to provide the care you need,” she says.
At the same time, Bhathia and others are trying their best to find help from the provincial government.
In the last year, Bhandia and her husband have received thousands of dollars in support from the BC Cancer Centre and the BC Health Ministry.
They also have a Go Fund Me page to raise money to pay medical bills and pay for their own medical care.