BC Green Party Candidate – Stephanie Hendy

Dear Party/Candidate,

Please respond to these important questions.

The Canadian Cancer Survivor Network (CCSN) works to connect patients, survivors, and other stakeholder groups with decision-makers and the wider community to engage in discussion and to act on evidence-based best practices to alleviate the medical, emotional, financial and social costs of cancer and encourage research on ways to overcome barriers to optimal cancer care and follow-up for patients, caregivers and survivors in Canada.

A recent CCSN-commissioned Leger survey of 1,243 Canadians revealed that the response to the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a crisis in essential cancer care across the country. Cancer patients, their caregivers and those awaiting confirmation of a cancer diagnosis faced and still face postponed and cancelled appointments, tests and treatment, causing heightened fear and anxiety, even as pandemic restrictions are lifted.

Here are a few responses we received in our Leger survey from cancer patients living in British Columbia:

My fear is that since I am experiencing pain in other areas of my body other than where the tumor that was irradiated is located that there are other tumors that were not detected when I had a bone scan 11 months ago.  The level of fatigue and difficulty sleeping, even though I use a CPAP machine, is increasing my level of anxiety and frustration and that is creating more stress for my family members.

My concern is that I will have an undiagnosed melanoma that may not be treated as quickly as needed.

In British Columbia, a CBC article published on July 21, 2020 states that “more than 32,400 people either had their surgeries postponed or not scheduled at all after non-essential procedures were cancelled on March 16, in order to free up hospital beds in case there was a rush of COVID-19 patients…Those patients left waiting either joined or remained on a pre-existing wait-list, bringing the total number of people waiting for surgery in B.C. to 93,000.”

The government of British Colombia has a critical role to play in making sure that essential cancer care is not disrupted by COVID-19.

Cancer can’t be cancelled or postponed. The delay and cancellation of cancer care due to COVID-19 has triggered another public health crisis. Cancer care and diagnosis must continue during any public health crisis affecting Canadians to save lives.

If elected, how will your government provide the explicit inclusion of essential cancer care in a second or third wave of COVID-19 and in all crisis and pandemic planning in the future?

Your response will be circulated to cancer patients, caregivers and survivors in British Columbia and included on our website at www.survivornet.ca. Links to your responses will also be posted on Facebook and Twitter.

Response from the candidate:

“It is difficult for me to answer this question, as our platform does not include anything about access to specialists’ services. Therefore, I can only provide an answer to what I would do.

If elected, how will your government provide the explicit inclusion of essential cancer care in a second or third wave of COVID-19 and in all crisis and pandemic planning in the future?

When the BC government closed down all “elective surgeries” to create more beds due to COVID, this was an exaggerated response given the lack of experience with a global pandemic. Now that the province is continuing to manage the pandemic, I would work to ensure that the Health Minister knows that Cancer care is not elective, it is essential.

Having worked directly with improving access to care for British Columbians living with type 1 diabetes (as I do, myself), I ran in this election to improve services for all people with chronic conditions and disabilities.

Seeing the gaps in my own party’s platform, I will resolve to join the policy committee and continue to petition the government in keeping the doors of access open for those living with cancer. Having had a partner that passed away from oligodendroglioma, I cannot fathom how devastated I would have been knowing that his life was cut even shorter, needing to wait for chemo or radiation treatment. (I am aware there are other therapies available and that each cancer presents differently – I am a clinical exercise physiologist) ”

-Stephanie Hendy, BC Green Party Candidate