Meet­ing with health min­is­ter

Cancer ra­di­a­tion pe­ti­tions be­ing col­lected through­out tri-coun­ties

Tri-County Vanguard - - FRONT PAGE - TINA COMEAU

A grass­roots so­cial me­dia move­ment aimed at get­ting the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment to con­sider the Yar­mouth Re­gional Hos­pi­tal as a site for cancer ra­di­a­tion ser­vices in western Nova Sco­tia will have a sit-down with the prov­ince’s health min­is­ter.

Yar­mouth res­i­dent Derek Lesser, a founder of the Western Nova Sco­tia Cancer Sup­port Net­work Face­book group, said Yar­mouth MLA Zach Churchill no­ti­fied him that a meet­ing with Health and Well­ness Min­is­ter Randy Delorey has been set up for Thurs­day, Aug. 31.

“He’s in­ter­ested in meet­ing with us,” said Lesser, who said the min­is­ter will meet with him­self, Yar­mouth town coun­cil­lor Sandy Den­nis ( her­self bat­tling cancer) and mem­bers of the Yar­mouth Hos­pi­tal Foun­da­tion.

“I think he’s just look­ing for what the ask is and what we’re look­ing to do,” Lesser said. “We hadn’t even re­quested a meet­ing with the health min­is­ter so that was quite pos­i­tive news.”

The Face­book group – which has sur­passed 20,000 mem­bers – had also cir­cu­lated pe­ti­tions in Shel­burne, Yar­mouth and Digby coun­ties seek­ing pub­lic sup­port for the push to have cancer ra­di­a­tion ser­vices lo­cated in Yar­mouth, and also for the prov­ince to cover cancer med­i­ca­tions that are taken orally.

The group is col­lect­ing those pe­ti­tions. As of 4 p.m. on Aug. 25, of the pe­ti­tions col­lected so far, they had 5,506 sig­na­tures, with many more pe­ti­tions still to be picked up.

Lesser said the pe­ti­tions had been avail­able to the pub­lic in about 110 lo­ca­tions. The pe­ti­tion pages will be pre­sented to the min­is­ter.

Lesser said he’s pleased with how the ini­tia­tive has been go­ing. When he first launched the group, he had hoped to get “a cou­ple hun­dred peo­ple on board.” His ex­pec­ta­tions were well ex­ceeded.

While there are peo­ple ea­ger to fundraise, Lesser said un­til or un­less gov­ern­ment com­mits to lo­cat­ing a lin­ear ac­cel­er­a­tor at the Yar­mouth Re­gional Hos­pi­tal (the ma­chine re­quired for ra­di­a­tion ser­vices), any fundrais­ing ini­tia­tives aren’t be­ing pur­sued. And when/if they are, they would be led by the hos­pi­tal foun­da­tion, he said.

“The hos­pi­tal foun­da­tion has said ‘that’s what we do. We’ll look af­ter the fundrais­ing, we would just want your peo­ple to par­tic­i­pate in some of it,’” Lesser said, not­ing the foun­da­tion has fundrais­ing ex­per­tise and there would be an ex­pec­ta­tion that the re­gion would have to cover some of the re­quired ex­pense.

“The foun­da­tion is very keen on rais­ing the money and would like to do it, but they’ve said you don’t re­ally want to get into a po­si­tion where you’re col­lect­ing money now,” said Lesser. “They don’t want money just sit­ting there if it doesn’t get ap­proved.”

Asked what mes­sage Lesser hopes his group can get across to the health min­is­ter, he said, “I think the big thing is there are way more peo­ple than I ever thought, or any­body ever thought, that are con­cerned about this.”

On the Face­book group page, peo­ple have been en­cour­aged to share how hav­ing to travel to Hal­i­fax for ra­di­a­tion ser­vices has im­pacted them, whether they are cancer pa­tients or care­givers.

The sto­ries are be­ing com­piled by group mem­ber Brenda Tate to be pre­sented to the min­is­ter as well.

“Those sto­ries tell a lot about what peo­ple are go­ing through,” Lesser said, not­ing some­times it even goes be­yond the fi­nan­cial, phys­i­cal and emotional tolls. “There’s been peo­ple who have ex­pe­ri­enced tragedy on the road, car ac­ci­dents on the road. There’s a whole bunch of dif­fer­ent an­gles that I never thought of and I don’t think most peo­ple have.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.