Cancer Finance


We are seriously lucky to be living in Canada with our medical system.  And as cumbersome as it can be sometimes I wouldn’t want to live in any other city or country as I go down this road.

For the last month we have been working towards switching up my next treatment protocol. The present chemo therapy has been very good for certain areas but there continues to be growth in many others, so time for another change. This will be my fifth time on a new treatment. 

Each switch comes with a range of emotions, but one that always lurks is the question of what side effects and what degree will I experience them.

Regardless I’m always excited to try new therapy especially when the drugs I’m on are getting harder to tolerate.

What I haven’t been excited about is the question of how we were going to fund this next round of therapy. As I was on Nivulomab for three sessions back in the spring it seems the system is hesitant to pay for this round. 

So, as I’ve said before, you have to advocate on your own behalf. We’ve been working three different streams to see which if any were going to help out. 

The cost of cancer treatment isn’t always a conversation here in Canada. We kinda just expect that whatever we need is going to be made available for us. It’s why I say this is the best country to be sick.

So when you are directed to a treatment but then told it may not be funded you kinda stop in your tracks.  

And when you hear possible costs north of $100,000 your heart skips a beat. 

This is Canada. How is this happening? 

For those of you following in my draft and haven’t had this conversation during your treatments I would ask that you start educating yourself on your options just in case. To date this hasn’t been an issue or conversation, but once it’s here it’s a bit of a daunting wall to climb.

Here are some of the paths I’ve been going down for the last month.

Most drug companies have a compassionate division that reviews cases and helps with funding for those that need it.  Your oncologist or their admin team know how to find them, but it’s quite easy to google it by typing in the drug (ie opdivo) and ‘compassionate’. Check in with them and make your plea. 

I’m a big believer in insurance and am fortunate that we bought in to a referral/insurance program called Best Doctors through Evans Hunt. They have cancer treatment coverage and I am testing this opportunity.

My third track is to go back to AHS and argue that the coverage should extend to me (the reason I have been told I’m not presently covered is that I’ve already had a short stint on the drug I am looking to start). It seems to me to be a technicality, like a simple check mark in a box that asks ‘has the patient taken this drug in the past?’ 

Technically I took the drug but it was a shortened treatment as I was in and out of the hospital at the time due to the pancreatitis. My argument being that it wasn’t a fair amount of treatment to justify not permitting me to take it again if it’s the right drug to take.

There are a few other options but these are the three I am vigorously pursuing at the moment. Personally I would do what I’m doing, pursue all at the same time with hopes one of them come to fruition.

And just so you know, if I don’t get this figured out my plan is to try a different drug vs putting any more financial stress on the family. 

And to be honest, the speed that new treatments are coming out I’m not stressed if this is the route I’m going.

Certainly less stressful than arguing with bureaucrats. 


Full Gratitude