TORONTO – A Milton woman is devastated after learning the Ontario government won’t cover a cancer treatment that could prolong her life.
Kimm Fletcher, 41, has been battling brain cancer since 2010 and was recently diagnosed with stage four brain cancer and given two months to live. When she was given the diagnosis her thoughts turned to her two young children, son Keidon, 9, and daughter Martie, 7.
“It’s the worse thing I’ve ever had to do. Tell my children I’m dying,” said Fletcher.
Fletcher was told by her doctors the cancer drug Bevacizumab, which goes under the trade name Avastin, could potentially extend her life by a year or even longer. But six months of treatment costs roughly $48,000 and is not covered by the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) in cases of brain cancer.
Roche, the pharmaceutical company behind Avastin, has offered 20 per cent of the cost.
If she lived in British Columbia, Saskatchewan or Manitoba the entire cost of the treatments would be covered by provincial health insurance.
Her husband, Scott, is furious with the Ontario government and OHIP’s refusal to cover a drug that could give his wife more time with their family.
“It’s infuriating. You hear about a crazy amount of spending on power plants. Yet drugs aren’t covered? It’s unacceptable,” he said.
Global News has reached out to the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care but has not received a response.
Joel Lexchin, a professor at the School of Health Policy and Management at York University in Toronto, says with limited healthcare dollars it can be a difficult choice to fund treatments for patients who are terminally ill.
“How much money are we willing to spend for treatment that does not cure? Avastin is not going to cure the cancer, Avastin will prolong life. And how much is that worth?” he said.
Lexchin says a lack of federal leadership has led to a healthcare disparity between the provinces.
“Part of the problem is that the current federal government has refused to take any leadership role in trying to harmonize what kinds of drugs are covered across the provinces,” said Lexchin.
For the Fletchers, family time is quickly running out and friends have taken on the challenge of raising the money for Kimm’s treatments.
So far they have raised enough money for three weeks of treatment and will hold another fundraiser on Oct. 27 from 12 p.m. – 5 p.m. at the Hawthorne Café at 10220 Derry Rd. in Milton.
For the moment, the family is making every moment together count.
“If I knew I could make it to my daughter’s communion in June, that would be fantastic,” she said. “I’m not giving up. Everybody dies but I’m not planning on doing that anytime soon.”
To make a donation to help Kimm pay for the Avastin treatments go to http://www.gofundme.com/4vidz4./.
-with files from Cindy Pom