VICTORIA – New Democrat spokesperson for health, Judy Darcy, is congratulating advocates who have won improved treatment for the late effects of early childhood cancer.
“The Pediatric Cancer Survivorship Society of B.C. has done tremendous work, pressing the government to have their voice heard,” said Darcy. “The announcement by the government of a program for adult survivors of early childhood cancer is a vindication for their efforts and a tremendous benefit for as many as 3,500 British Columbians today as well as countless others in the future.
“I am honoured to have been involved with their work and am glad the government listened. This will have a profound impact on the lives of so many British Columbians, of the survivors and of their families.”
The society had been calling for a stand-alone multi-disciplinary program to treat childhood cancer survivors who were once treated at the B.C. Children’s Hospital and who may now be faced with overwhelming and catastrophic health issues. The aggressive treatment used to save their lives often left survivors with debilitating physical and mental health issues, including secondary cancers, organ failure, blindness and post-traumatic stress disorder. Unfortunately, many doctors are unaware of the long-term effects of typical cancer treatments such as radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
“For too many years, these survivors felt as though they had been abandoned by the health system,” said Darcy. “We have a moral obligation as a province to look after these people. I’m glad the government finally recognized this with Tuesday’s announcement.”
Darcy raised the issue in the legislature last March, both as a private member’s motion and in question period. She organized media events and meetings with stakeholders in Vancouver and Victoria and in the Interior to raise awareness of the issue.
“This is a victory for better health care in British Columbia,” said Darcy. “The Pediatric Cancer Survivorship Society of B.C. should be congratulated for making the government understand the importance of this issue.”