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‘This is my life we’re speaking about,’ says Ontario lady whose most cancers surgical procedure’s been delayed by Omicron | CBC News


Last week, Cassandra Di Maria received an e-mail no most cancers affected person ever needs to obtain.

In it, a member of her surgeon’s crew knowledgeable her {that a} main surgical procedure she had scheduled for Jan. 19 at Toronto’s Mount Sinai hospital was being cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. No alternative date was set.

The e-mail got here after the Ontario authorities introduced on Jan. 3 that non-urgent medical procedures can be placed on maintain for the third time since March 2020, whereas the province offers with a surge in instances of the highly-infectious Omicron variant.

“It’s very irritating as a result of that is my life we’re speaking about,” mentioned Di Maria, 30. “I simply need to have the ability to have my surgical procedure accomplished and go into restoration and put this all behind me.”

The Vaughan, Ont., resident is considered one of hundreds of sufferers throughout the province who’ve had surgical procedures or procedures postponed or cancelled in a bid to forestall hospitals from being overwhelmed by record-high numbers of COVID-19 sufferers and employees shortages. 

Now, Di Maria is looking on the federal government to rethink the choice to cancel most cancers surgical procedures, saying the transfer is punishing non-COVID-19 sufferers whose lives are in danger.

“We all should be handled for what we have to be handled for,” she mentioned.

third postponement

Diagnosed with stage 4 colon most cancers in November 2020, Di Maria underwent surgical procedure and commenced chemotherapy final January. She stopped chemo in October after 17 cycles so her immune system may recuperate in preparation for one more main surgical procedure to take away spots on her liver, stomach and considered one of her ovaries.

That surgical procedure, initially purported to occur in November, had already been postponed twice earlier than it was cancelled final week.

Di Maria is anxious that being off chemotherapy for months has left her weak.

“Having it postponed and cancelled so many instances … I’m apprehensive, clearly, the most cancers has gotten the prospect to now unfold additional,” she mentioned.

Di Maria’s cousin Vanessa Pilieci posted this message on Instagram to attract consideration to her scenario. (Vanessa Pilieci/Instagram)

Ontario Health, the company that oversees the province’s well being system, mentioned Thursday it could not verify the variety of surgical procedures that had been cancelled to date this yr. But when the pause was introduced on Jan. 3, Ontario Health CEO Matt Anderson mentioned it could have an effect on between 8,000 and 10,000 procedures every week.

“It was a troublesome choice, an enormous price, however one thing that’s mandatory given what we’re seeing within the [COVID-19] numbers,” Anderson mentioned on the time.

The cancellations of non-urgent procedures in earlier waves of the pandemic led to an estimated backlog of 15.9 million surgical procedures, diagnostic exams, screenings and different medical procedures, the Ontario Medical Association mentioned in June 2021.

Ontario Health and the Ontario Hospital Association each declined requests for an interview.

‘It breaks my coronary heart’

Dr. Fayez Quereshy, scientific vice-president and a surgical oncologist at Toronto’s University Health Network (UHN), mentioned hospitals are going through “unprecedented” staffing shortages as health-care employees and help employees get sick with COVID-19 or must self-isolate.

While Di Maria’s surgical procedure was scheduled at a unique hospital community, Quereshy mentioned he needed to name a most cancers affected person of his personal on Tuesday to inform them that their process was being delayed.

“It breaks my coronary heart to listen to that story as a result of, clearly, we wish to put our sufferers on the entrance and centre,” Quereshy mentioned. “Unfortunately, we’re making these calls far too usually.”

Dr. Fayez Quereshy, scientific vice-president and a surgical oncologist on the University Health Network, says Ontario hospitals are going through ‘unprecedented’ employees shortages concurrently beds replenish with COVID-19 sufferers. (Rosa Kim/UHN)

Quereshy mentioned UHN is making it a precedence to deal with the sufferers experiencing signs that require pressing consideration. Procedures that may be safely deferred or delayed are being rescheduled, he mentioned, to create capability amid surging demand for well being care.

“The spike that we’re seeing — virtually unexpectedly and with little or no discover — is in contrast to something that we have seen earlier than,” Quereshy mentioned.

On Wednesday, the province introduced it could deploy internationally skilled nurses to hospitals and a few long-term care properties strained by staffing shortages.

Meanwhile, Di Maria nonetheless would not know when it will likely be her flip.

“I’m simply ready for a confirmed surgical procedure date, or a confirmed ‘No, it is not even going to occur,’ so I can get again on chemo. Something,” she mentioned.

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