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Province refuses to pay for Hamilton youth's cancer treatment in Mexico

By Antonella Artuso, Toronto Sun

 Justin Masotti (left) is pictured with his dad, Mike (SUPPLIED PHOTO)

Justin Masotti (left) is pictured with his dad, Mike (SUPPLIED PHOTO)

Hamilton resident Mike Masotti intends to keep funding his son’s cancer treatment in Mexico until he spends his last penny.

But the money’s running out.

OHIP continues to reject funding for his son’s drug treatment despite the improvements it has made in Justin’s life, he said.

“They’re going to let my son die,” Masotti said Friday. “It’s hard to believe.”

The 18-year-old is fighting a rare type of brain cancer, Gliomatosis Cerebri, and is undergoing DMSO therapy at a clinic in Tijuana because the controversial treatment is not available in Ontario.

The latest OHIP letter says the application to fund the therapy was rejected because it is deemed experimental, the health clinic in Tijuana is not approved by the province and the family did not fill out an out-of-country funding application prior to travel, he said.

“Justin was dying when we came down here — nobody at the hospital told us there was such a form,” Masotti said. “It’s absolutely ridiculous. I’m very upset right now.”

As the family struggles to pay the $13,000-a-week cost of treatment, letters to Health Minister Eric Hoskins and Premier Kathleen Wynne have gone unanswered, he said.

A GoFundMe page has been set up at gofundme.com/qgrqpxs4 that is helping cover some of the costs, but not all, he said.

The family is hoping someone will offer legal help to appeal the ministry’s rejection.

Justin’s cancer is difficult to treat because it spreads in thread-like growths through the brain, but DMSO may help deliver the chemotherapy treatment to where it’s needed.

Masotti said it has already vastly improved the quality of Justin’s life, and he’s been told at the clinic that it may even save him.

Masotti brought his son to Mexico for treatment in October, after doctors in Ontario assured him that there was nothing more they could do.

“He was dying. He was having a seizure or two seizures a day, any one of those seizures could have killed him. He had lost 50 pounds. He was down to 120 pounds. He was bed ridden. He had no balance. He wasn’t eating. He wasn’t drinking,” he said.

Although still blind from the cancer, Justin is now walking, talking, taking stairs, lifting weights, eating and drinking, Masotti said.

“It’s a miracle what’s happened and yet the government decides not to fund it,” he said.

The family intends to tap into all financial resources available, including RRSPs, but will have to bring Justin home to Hamilton when the money runs out, he said.

A health ministry statement says that out-of-country funding is provided to residents for treatment of medical conditions if the services are not available when needed in the province.

“In addition, the treatment must be medically necessary, generally accepted by the medical profession in Ontario as appropriate and not experimental or for research purposes,” the ministry said.

Cancer Care Ontario, which provides advise to the health ministry, said there is “insufficient evidence” to support the use of DMSO, or Dimethyl sulfoxide.



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