So you say you want socialized healthcare do you?

Listen up America this will be what comes down the pike if we follow Canada, England and others. This should be a very important issue for everyone. Keep in mind is is not private insurance that is the largest denier of claims it is the Govt. This should be common sense, think of one program that the Govt has been accurate on with re-guards to funding , over site and quality.......

Kent Pankow lives in Edmonton, in a province and a country that is trying to either kill him or bankrupt him.

No sense mincing words.

Suffering from brain cancer, Kent Pankow was literally forced to go to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. for lifesaving surgery — at a cost to family and friends of $106,000 — after the health-care system in Alberta left him hanging in bureaucratic limbo for 16 crucial days, his tumour meanwhile migrating to an unreachable part of the brain, while it dithered over his case file, ultimately deciding he was not surgery worthy.

Now, with the Mayo Clinic having done what the Alberta Cancer Board wouldn’t authorize or even explain, but with the tumour unable to be totally removed, the province will now not fund the expensive drug, Avastin, that the Mayo prescribed to keep him alive and keep the remaining tumour from increasing in size — despite the costs of the drug being totally funded by the province for other forms of cancer.

Kent Pankow, as it turns out, has the right disease but he has it in the wrong place.

Had he lung cancer, breast cancer, or colon cancer, then the cost of the drug — $4,555 per treatment, two times a month — would be totally covered by Alberta’s version of OHIP.

But he doesn’t.

And so he is not only a victim of brain cancer, he is also a victim of arbitrary discrimination.

Full disclosure. Kent Pankow, a 40-year-old Red Seal sous chef, is a son of the man who married the spouse of my late brother. And it was while vacationing with them at their winter home in Los Cabos, Mexico, recently that this story began to unfold back in their home province of Alberta.

But do not think, even for a moment, that this could never happen in Toronto or other parts of Ontario.

Our supposedly universal federal health care system, the pride of most Canadians and the political struggle of America, is only as good as the length of the waiting line and whether you have the right disease at the right time.

After writing more than 150 letters to everyone from the prime minister to virtually all health authorities both federal and provincial, and being ignored in return, Kent Pankow’s wife, Deborah Hurford, decided to finally go public.

CTV Edmonton did a major feature on the family’s plight on the 6 o’clock news and, almost before the program ended, Alberta’s health and wellness minister, Gene Zwozdesky, was on the phone to their home — ensuring himself some positive press in the followup that aired later that night.

Then, when he heard the Pankows had filed a human rights complaint against the province, justifiably citing medicare-based discrimination, Zwozdesky suddenly went mute — stating he could no longer discuss the matter publicly.

Ten years ago, when first diagnosed with a glioblastoma multiforme brain tumour (GBM), Kent Pankow was given five years to live.

After beating it down once, however, with his first surgery having been performed in Alberta, he spent nearly seven years in remission until the cancer’s return in 2008.

And he is not prepared to give up.

“He’s a fighter,” says his wife, admitting, however, that the cost of the drug has been a significant drain on friends and family who have not only donated large sums of their own money, but have also organized fundraisers to keep hope alive, including school penny drives.

“When Kent goes for his Avastin IV injection, he sits next to patients who receive the same drug for free because they have another type of cancer — like colon cancer,” Hurford says.

“Brain tumour patients deserve the same rights as other cancer patients, including access to the same lifesaving treatments — and without additional costs.

“I can’t begin to tell you how frustrated, angry, disgusted and appalled I am with both the Alberta health system and the individuals within the system who continue to perpetuate such an archaic and inhumane approach to the treatment of patients.” she says. “It seems like they are doing everything in their power to ensure that Kent succumbs to an early and unnecessary death.”

“The Avastin is working. The size of the remaining tumour has remained static since October,” she says.

“But how can anyone afford almost $10,000 a month for a drug — even if it is saving a loved one’s life?”

When Alberta health minister Gene Zwozdesky called the Pankow home on the night CTV Edmonton aired its story, he purportedly blamed the feds, namely Health Canada, for deciding what drugs are covered, and for what.

Federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq, however, in a letter to Deborah Hurford, wrote that “while Health Canada is responsible for the market authorization of drug products, the province and territorial governments are responsible for managing the list of drugs for which public reimbursement from government drug plans is available.”

This, too, is passing the buck.

What Aglukkaq would not explain to Hurford — citing confidentiality — was why Avastin received a notice of compliance from Health Canada for other forms of cancer, but not yet for brain cancer as in the United States.

Nor would she offer any information regarding any application before her department for the use of Avastin in the treatment of brain tumours.

“Based on Kent’s MRI’s and radiology reports, and analysis by his surgeon at the Mayo Clinic, Avastin is playing a key role in stabilizing Kent’s tumour,” says Hurford.

“Without it, Kent’s tumour will grow and he will die.

“So why then,” asks Hurford, “is (everyone) choosing not to help Kent and other brain tumour patients who are forced to go public with their private health issues and fundraise for their lifesaving medical treatments?

“Where is the dignity in that?”

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