A 26-year-old registered nurse who was living with Stage 4 metastatic breast cancer died unexpectedly. Two months later, her family is still seeking answers.
Shayla Wishloff’s mother said her daughter was taken to an Edmonton hospital via ambulance in November, where she died waiting for the help.
“She was a beautiful person and she did so much to help so many people, even when she was so sick,” Tamara Wishloff said.
Shayla was diagnosed in September 2019 with Stage 2 breast cancer — a Grade 3 invasive ductal carcinoma — and endured months of chemotherapy, followed by a double mastectomy, reconstructive surgery, then six weeks of radiation.
It wasn’t enough.
Despite the treatments, the aggressive cancer metastasized to other parts of Shayla’s body, including her lymph nodes, lungs and brain.
In October 2020, doctors told her she had reached Stage 4, was terminal and she didn’t have much time left.
She ended up going to the U.S. early last year, to take part in a clinical trial in New Haven.
She returned home to Edmonton, where three and a half months later she hit a roadblock. One day in November 2021, she was in medical distress and needed help.
“We were having a medical concern for which we called an ambulance,” Wishloff said.
Wishloff said Shayla depended on oxygen and did get some while on their way to the University of Alberta Hospital.
But the paramedics said supplies were low and they ended up having to get more oxygen from another nearby ambulance.
After waiting 15 minutes, Shayla got into a room inside the hospital while her mom waited outside.
“I looked at her and she was saying, ‘Please help me, I can’t breath’ and I realized she was not hooked up to her oxygen,” Wishloff said.
In shock, Wishloff said she yelled to the staff.
“I think they went running to get some type of other mask and they were trying to connect it to the wall and at that point, she stopped breathing.”
Shayla died that day, on Nov. 9.
“I did ask them how that could have happened because they were all there and I haven’t gotten an answer yet,” Tamara said.
In a statement to Global News, Alberta Health Services wrote: “Our thoughts are with the patient’s family and loved ones during this difficult and emotional time. We have been meeting with this family and discussing all concerns, and have also instigated a formal review process.
“The review process, which is ongoing, will continue to involve this patient’s family and all care teams for this patient. We will continue to share updates with the family and share findings when the investigation is complete.”
AHS added due to patient privacy and confidentiality, it was unable to comment further about the case or ongoing review.
The information is important for the grieving family, but will come too late.
“That’s something that I will ask myself for the rest of my life now — how much more time we would have had?”
Shayla shared her journey on social media, garnering thousands of followers on her Instagram account, Pink Cancer Girl. Her mom said her advocacy help many people fighting cancer.
— With files from Karen Bartko and Su-Ling Goh, Global News