A B.C. registered nurse says the province’s health-care system needs to implement some major changes, by hiring more staff and buying more equipment, after she’s been left without a cancer treatment plan eight months after noticing a cancerous lump behind her ear.
“Things are coming to a point where changes have to happen,” said Fayra Krueger. “People’s lives are at stake. The government needs to work harder at recruiting clinicians and we also need more diagnostic machines, such as PET scans and CT scanners.”
“It’s crucial that people know the type of delays that are happening and, in a situation, as myself, it really could be life or death.”
It began with Fayra Krueger noticing a small scab on the top of her ear in late 2021, which was not healing.
“I’ve had this issue before. Usually, I go to the dermatologist and they use liquid nitrogen on it,” Krueger said.
The registered nurse then went to her family doctor to get a referral to see a dermatologist but it took more than two months to book an appointment.
She then asked to get the scab surgically removed as it had been a recurring issue for her, but the dermatologist opted to use the standard liquid nitrogen procedure.
When Krueger returned three months later for a checkup, the scab had turned into a small lump the size of a pea.
The dermatologist then took a sample of the growth for a biopsy. Twelve weeks later the tumour had grown to the size of a “large grape,” Krueger said.
“I was really surprised (at how quickly it had grown). I did some research and saw the type of skin cancer I had grows the quickest,” Krueger told Global News.
“It was painful, bleeding, and oozing. (The dermatologist) urgently then got me into a Vancouver General Hospital clinic where they specialize in removing these types of tumours.
“They gave me a schedule of eight weeks out, but I was lucky they had a cancellation (which moved the surgery up around a month),” Krueger said.
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She then got surgery to have it removed and thought it was all over until she felt a lump in her neck a month later.
“There are about five lymph nodes in this area and three of them have tested positive for cancer,” Kreuger said.
Several more tests had to be done, each one requiring a lengthy wait.
Now, three months later, another holdup happened, this one while waiting for the BC Cancer Agency to give the go-ahead for a pet scan. Without it, she can’t get surgery.
BC Cancer officials said while they cannot comment on specific individual cases, those that have been referred for a pet scan are considered high priority.
“While waits for CT/PET vary based on urgency, the majority of people wait 28 days or less with urgent cases waiting less than 14 days on average,” said Dr. Kim Nguyen Chi, BC Cancer’s chief medical officer.
Health-care professionals have been calling on the province to create better working environments for doctors and nurses, to help solve the health-care staffing crisis the province has been experiencing for years.
B.C.’s health minister gave a press conference on Monday.
“We’re also going to be working on a 10-year cancer plan. You’re going to see soon to address some of the increases in demand. In each of the last two budgets, there were significant increases in the cancer budget,” B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix said.