One daughter has cancer and one has mental illness. Only one is able to find treatment

Click to play video: 'Vancouver Island family’s plight puts focus on mental health care in B.C.'
Vancouver Island family’s plight puts focus on mental health care in B.C.
WATCH: Two sisters are facing serious health challenges but their parents say only one is getting the help they need – Apr 28, 2017

A Vancouver Island couple, with one daughter fighting cancer and another dealing with serious mental health issues, is pleading for help.

“It’s immensely frustrating,” Jay O’Connor said.

Lisa and Jay O’Connor’s 16-year-old daughter, Kiera, was diagnosed with a rare form of Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

“I’m going in for another biopsy to either confirm or deny relapse,” Kiera said.

Her sister, 14-year-old Kylie, has clinical depression and obsessive compulsive disorder.

“It’s like I’m drowning in my own thoughts, I never stop thinking, and it’s not good thoughts that I’m thinking,” Kylie said.

But the O’Connor family is upset that the one daughter with cancer may live, while the other may not.

“It’s very apparent who gets help… it’s the cancer [patients], not the mental illness [patients],” Jay said.
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For the last month, Kylie has been in Victoria General Hospital as she awaits long term care.

“My parents have been bending over backwards my entire life to try and get me help,” Kylie said.

Lisa said for years they have been hitting one dead end after another. But after Kylie’s condition recently worsened, they fought tooth and nail to get a referral to B.C. Children’s Hospital, where their other daughter received cancer treatment.

Kylie took part in a three-hour interview the family described as gruelling.

“I was crying for some of the [personal] questions, it was so hard for me to answer a bunch of these questions,” Kylie said.

However, Kylie was denied a bed in the hospital.

“They kept telling us they’re not a treatment centre,” Jay said.

She was also denied a spot in the special care unit at Vancouver Island’s Ledger House, according to Lisa.

She said it would be a one-year wait for Kylie to get into Maples Adolescent Treatment Centre in Burnaby.

“As a mother, [I] want to take care of both of [my] kids equally. [I] love them the same, it’s a constant fight,” Lisa said.
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“I will probably shock most people with what I’m going to say but if I had a choice about what disease or ailment, if I had to chose for my child, I would pick cancer over mental illness.”

Now the family may be forced to part ways as they consider out-of-province care for Kylie.

“It’s a sad state of affairs,” Jay said.

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