From her home in Saanich, Allison Ducluzeau watches a video of her dream wedding that took place just two weeks ago in Hawaii.
“After we were married, they did this little ceremony for the kids, showered us in flower petals,” said Ducluzeau.
But it almost didn’t happen.
“I first started to get symptoms of abdominal pain after Thanksgiving,” she said. “And originally, I put it down to eating too much for Thanksgiving dinner.”
One night, the pain was so severe she went to the ER. Ducluzeau was told she had stage four abdominal cancer.
At the BC Cancer Agency, the surgeon informed her that surgery was not an option and chemotherapy would not be effective.
“Go home and get your affairs in order. Talk to your family about your wishes,” said Ducluzeau. “Which for me, and my friend that was there, took that to be a reference to MAID.”
But Medical Assistance In Dying was not the path Allison wanted to go down, so she took her health into her own hands.
She found a doctor in Baltimore who suggested Hyperthermic Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy or HIPEC.
Two weeks later, Ducluzeau spent $200,000 and flew to Baltimore from Saanich for the surgery, where all visible tumours were removed before administering chemotherapy.
Her surgeon, Dr. Armando Sardi, director of the Institute for Cancer Care at Mercy Medical Centre in Baltimore, said Ducluzeau was an ideal candidate.
“It’s not for everybody. But it applies to a variety of malignancies,” said Sardi.
Almost a year later, her case dominated question period, with BC United Party leader Kevin Falcon demanding to know why she had to go to the United States for help.
“How many more patients like Allison must suffer before they can get the basic access to cancer care that they deserve,” said Falcon.
However, Health Minister Adrian Dix said the government is doing all it can to ensure people get the care they need.
“As I noted to the leader of the opposition to answer his first question, we’ve added since April first in oncology alone, 61 oncologists, honourable speaker,” he said.
“We continue to invest in every aspect of our cancer centre system.”
Now, Allison is fighting for financial assistance with the BC Cancer Agency.
They say she could have treatment in Canada, but she says she wouldn’t be here if she waited for surgery.
“I just really wish that there would be more compassion shown to people,” added Ducluzeau.
For now, she’s focusing on her new marriage, hoping for a lifetime of health and happiness.