Well, turns out I didn’t get to have chemo today – my blood counts are too low. This worries me, but also explains why I feel soooo tired. No matter; I will get my treatment next week instead.
But now for some good news: I recently blogged about a couple named George and Deborah Warkus who were fighting to get Deborah coverage and access to Tykerb & Xeloda – the drugs that I was on at the time. We’ve become friends through e-mails and phone calls, and I have been following their battle closely. It just never seemed acceptable that Deborah and I live only a few kilometers apart, have exactly the same type and stage of cancer, and yet I was receiving the very same drugs that she was denied.
Anyway, I’m thrilled to say that they have won their fight for government-covered access to these much-needed and crazy-expensive drugs! Below is an excerpt from Georg’s e-mail to me:
“Saw the doctor today with Deborah and he told us that the game has changed. Ontario health will… are you sitting down for this? Will COVER Tykerb and Xeloda under ODB and EAP with a special code, if the conventional chemotherapies do not work. It is a victory for all women with advanced or metastatic breast cancer whose tumours overexpress Her2. We have to wait for Jan. 5 to be sure if this is true, tomorrow is the date for it to kick in. If it is true I then have to e-mail all the thoughtful people that wanted to help pay for her treatment a thank you, we had a hard fight but we won. Finally the Government is going to cover it, as they should have in the first place.”
(I should point out that this is not the e-mail in its entirety. He also suggested a celebration, and included both the lyrics for, and a You Tube clip of, Lionel Richie’s All Night Long. That song has been in my head for the last couple of days. Party. Karamu. Fiesta. Forever… Thanks Georg.)
The determination with which Georg campaigned on behalf of Deborah — and their relentless pursuit of what I think everyone would agree is the only just outcome — has meaning for me beyond the victory of the everyman helping shape our so-called Universal Health Care into what it should be. These people have inspired me. Georg is like the Erin Brockovich of breast cancer husbands, and the lessons from their story are pretty straightforward: don’t give up, do whatever it takes, keep your eye on the prize. Rage, rage against it, whether it’s Ontario’s health care system or the cancer.
Deborah and I — and so many others like us — need to keep the lessons in mind, because our fight continues every single day. So a big hooray for Georg & Deb for stomping out injustice — now let’s show cancer the underside of our boots, shall we?