OHIP doesn't cover drug that could extend dying mom's life
Kimm Fletcher, 41, holds a photo of her family at Queen's Park Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2013. (Antonella Artuso/Toronto Sun)
Tell me how you do it.
How do you tell two children, ages seven and nine, that their mom has only two months to live?
How do you tell those children there could be an empty seat at the table this Christmas?
Then how do you tell those children that there’s a drug that could give their mom another 18 months of life — but the government has turned her down for coverage for that drug?
Those are the heart-wrenching questions Kimm Fletcher, 41, brought to Queen’s Park Wednesday.
The Milton mom is living with a two-month death sentence.
Diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2010, Kimm got bad news recently that it has grown. Doctors told her the best chance to prolong her life is the drug Avastin. As if life hadn’t already dealt her a bad enough hand, her government piled on.
Avastin isn’t covered by OHIP — and treatment costs $100,000 a year.
It could give her a chance for as much as 18 more months of life.
That’s two precious Christmases to spend with her son, Keidon, 9, daughter Martie, 7, and her husband, Scott.
“It will allow me to be with my family and to give my kids some positive memories ...,” courageous Kimm told reporters Wednesday.
Friends, family and her community did what good people always do when the chips are down, they rallied and raised funds or her — $48,000 so far.
She’s only had one treatment, but overnight went from being bedridden to walking her daughter to school.
If she lived in Saskatchewan, Manitoba or British Columbia, the province’s health insurance plan would cover the drug.
But in Ontario, where we have $1.1 billion to scrap gas plants, $1 billion to waste on eHealth and hundreds of millions to blow on Ornge air ambulances, we don’t have cash for drugs for dying mothers.
The committee that makes these life-and-death decisions has donned a black hat in Kimm’s case and pronounced a death sentence.
Her private health insurer, Green Shield, through her employer, Siemens Canada, also turned her down.
Some of the reasons given by the ministry for turning down Kimm’s request?
“ ... A great amount of uncertainty around whether this treatment significantly improved survival overall for patients with gioblastoma multiforme.”
And “there was difficulty in determining the true cost-effectiveness of Avastin for this indication.”
Hello? Kimm knows she’s not going to survive. She just wants a shot at more time with her kids.
You don’t always survive chemo or radiation — but you give people the treatment anyway.
And just what the hell do they mean by “cost-effectiveness,” of the drug?
I suspect they’re saying it will save the health-care system money if she dies sooner rather than later.
If the Avastin is successful, Kimm will be in the health-care system for 18 months.
If she doesn’t get it, she’s dead in two.
That’s a disgusting argument — and one hell of a way to run a health-care system.
Doesn’t anyone use compassion to judge these things? Or common sense. Or even common decency?
It’s easy to be angry with Health Minister Deb Matthews, but I felt sorry for her. She was clearly moved by the brave mom’s plea.
“This is a very, very sad story. A tragic story. This is the woman who has terminal brain cancer. She has two little kids. She’s fighting for her life. It’s heartbreaking,” Matthews told reporters.
She clung to her belief that politics shouldn’t come into these decisions. They should be made by experts.
At least she met face to face with Kimm to give her the bad news.
What a province! You thought you had health insurance? Think again. Kimm’s life depends on charity, on bake sales. She’s being kept alive by the goodwill of family and friends — and the kindness of strangers.
And the Liberals spent $1 billion to save their buddies’ seats. It makes you weep.
(You can donate to Kimm at gofundme.com.)