Facing a cancer battle is not how 67-year-old Randy Stinson imagined his retirement.
The Kelowna, B.C., man was first diagnosed with Stage 4 melanoma in November 2020.
Six months later during his cancer check-up, Stinson was told more bad news — that he had thyroid cancer.
“Once you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, life changes,” he told Global News. “You really go … down pretty low, and you think a lot about death.”
Making an already difficult situation even harder is the fact that Stinson has no idea when he’ll be getting surgery on his thyroid to remove the cancer.
“Cancer is a very scary thing and I just don’t feel it’s right to have to sit on the sidelines like this, when it very easily can cut my life quite short,” Stinson said.
His wife Janice Stinson said the couple was told Randy would be getting his surgery at the beginning of January, but almost a week in, the surgery hasn’t been booked and they can’t even get answers as to when the operation may be scheduled.
“We’ve contacted the surgical booking office, and we were told that they were having trouble finding somebody to assist the surgeon,” she said. “As well, there’s other issues with you know, the operating rooms being short-staffed.”
Stinson is one of thousands of British Columbians facing surgery delays as COVID case counts surge amid the highly-transmissible Omicron variant, as well as the health-care system’s continuing struggle to deal with staffing shortages.
“I’m sure that there are a lot of other people in the same situation and that maybe then we will hear something from the health ministry as to what plans they are working on to help to make the system better,” Janice Stinson said.
Global News contacted the Ministry of Health to get the latest information on the surgery delays at B.C. hospitals and the reason behind cancer operations being delayed. In an email, however, a spokesperson said a response would likely come Thursday.
“It’s scary to think that these people aren’t getting access to health care,” said Janice. “It just seems like they are just concentrating on COVID instead of working towards an overall solution.
“For two years now we’ve been going through the same thing, and you would hope that they have other other plans in place or there they could at least say they’re working on trying to make the health-care system better.”
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The Stinsons are desperately hoping to get a call soon about the surgery so that Randy’s feelings of desperation can turn to some hope.
“It is very stressful. It’s very stressful on him and it is for me to trying constantly to keep positive,” Janice said.
The couple has booked a European river cruise for fall so that their retirement isn’t all about cancer and treatments — something they hope comes to fruition.
“I just want an answer, like, could someone please tell me when you’re going to be able to do this for me,” an emotional Randy Stinson said. “You know, I’m not that young.
“We wish somebody would just talk to us. That’s all.”