A Ladysmith woman is advocating for change in our healthcare system in the way terminal cancer patients receive care.
Kim Angell lives with incurable Stage 4 breast cancer.
“The average lifespan of someone living with metastatic breast cancer is two to three years, and I’ve been living with this for two and a half years,” says the 41-year-old.
In May, a PET scan confirmed a progression, and Angell needed to switch to a medication known as Enhertu. She says the drug is not provincially funded, but she got access to a course of treatment through an application by her oncologist to Astrazeneca’s Patient Support Program.
A common side effect of cancer-slowing drugs is neutropenia, which can be offset with injections of Filgrastim.
Angell says BC Pharmacare no longer covers this drug now that she’s deemed incurable.
“Just because we may be living with Stage 4 cancer and are no longer considered curable, we still deserve access to those treatments because our lives are important,” she says.
Angell says she recently purchased ten injections of Filgrastim for $500, which will last her six weeks.
On Thursday, she wrote a letter to B.C. Premier David Eby and Health Minister Adrian Dix to tell her story and outline her frustrations with what she considers “roadblocks” to treatment.
In a statement to CHEK News, the Ministry of Health says it does not publicly discuss specific details on individual cases due to patient privacy. The ministry does point out that Filgrastim is available under “special authority” as long as the patient meets certain criteria established in coalition with BC Cancer.
Angell says she no longer meets any of the seven criteria.
“I feel like my life doesn’t matter,” she says in regards to the lack of funding for terminal patients, “I want action.”
On social media, Angell’s message is resonating with almost 10,000 followers.
“If I have any advice for anyone, it’s to find their community,” she says.
Angell has plans to travel in the next year, and appreciates her day-to-day life on Vancouver Island.
“I’m so grateful to be here today, even with all the other stuff that I’m dealing with,” she says. “That’s all you can do, is focus on what you’ve got right now.”