Bring cancer treatment centre to west coast: Pasadena woman

Cory
Cory Hurley
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Husband received radiation in St. John’s earlier this year

PASADENA  Colleen Pynn of Pasadena is calling upon the people of western Newfoundland, the Northern Peninsula and Labrador to lobby government to put a cancer treatment centre on this part of the island.

Pynn’s husband Herb has cancer. The couple spent March through July either travelling to or staying in St. John’s while he received radiation. They spent eight weeks in total on the east coast. The rest of the time was spent driving back and forth the 700 or so kilometres.

Without a radiation unit or PET scanner included in the plans for a new hospital in Corner Brook, Eddie Joyce, Liberal Opposition Health critic, raised the issue in the House of Assembly last week.

Among the people still lobbying for a cancer treatment centre at the future Western Memorial Regional Hospital are Israel Hann and the local health-care committee formed earlier this year to push for answers on the new facility.

Pynn said she didn’t even know such a committee existed, and that she would have been first in line to sign up and create some noise.

The meetings, which were discussed through the local media, were sparsely attended — much to the disappointment of Hann and the others — but a committee was formed. There are plans to continue lobbying government for such things as a radiation unit in the near future.

However, Pynn said it is not enough. She said the masses need to rally.

“If you do not get involved in this, nothing is going to change,” she said.

The Pasadena woman scoffed at the notion made by Health Minister Susan Sullivan that a radiation unit in Corner Brook is not feasible.

“For the government to say there is not enough people sick on the west coast to warrant a cancer treatment centre here is bullshit,” she said.

Pynn said there are hundreds of people going through the cancer clinic in St. John’s daily. While they were there, she said most of the people they met were from outside the east coast. She does not believe the numbers of people west of Gander, up the Northern Peninsula and in Labrador, needing cancer treatment would not justify adding the service somewhere in this region.

“It is not only Corner Brook, put it in Stephenville,” she said. “They have a beautiful hospital in Stephenville that is basically only used for an old-age home.”

She said the costs incurred by each person who travels across the island — for accommodations, food, and the benefits paid out by government to eligible recipients alone — would justify the expenses of creating such a centre.

Although, the Pynns received assistance through the Dr. H Bliss Murphy Care Foundation and stayed at the Daffodil Place for two weeks, the help was limited. They still incurred great personal expenses, and were on a wait list for Daffodil Place for the remaining six weeks they were in St. John’s as Herb underwent radiation.

But the cost of being in St. John’s was only part of the issue. There are still bills to be paid at home — even when you are no longer working.

“After everything else, you have to pay your mortgage at home, your car payment or payments, you have your phone bill, light bill, cable bill.

“They don’t care that you have cancer. They are going to come and cut you off.”

Like many people, friends, family and co-workers also came to the aid of the Pynns. They were very gracious to be the recipients of fundraisers, even if they wish they didn’t need it.

Herb should have been receiving his radiation treatments closer to home, she said. It’s time to fight now, according to Pynn, or this will always be the case.

Organizations: Western Memorial Regional Hospital, H Bliss Murphy Care Foundation

Geographic location: Pasadena, Newfoundland, Corner Brook Northern Peninsula Stephenville Gander

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Recent comments

  • brenda leboubon
    December 04, 2013 - 16:14

    I agree with mrs pinn I know of people just from pasadena alone who have had to do the same thing and not just once but for weeks...something has to be done its crazy!

  • peggy seaward
    December 04, 2013 - 13:13

    I totally agree with Mrs. Pynn. I have been down that road.

  • Blunt
    December 04, 2013 - 10:37

    Yes, as a region we absolutely need to speak up, and speak up now, not after the fact. A treatment center here is imperative if we are going to build a new hospital. But, the governing bodies don't want to put it here because they would lose out on hundreds of thousands, if not millions every year that we have to spend on travel, accommodations, and everything else to get treatment in the epicenter of the universe.........St. John's

  • Corner Brook Breast Cancer
    December 04, 2013 - 09:40

    When I was going through my 6 weeks of radiation treatment in St. John's, I yearned for my family and home, who could have given me the comfort that I needed. I was so fortunate to have found lodgings at Daffodil Place which although being my 'home away from home', was still a lonely place. During my St. John's stay, I met people who had two things in common with me and that was cancer and the need for the comfort/security of home and family. These people came from all areas of the island and Labrador including Margaree, Stephenville, Baie Verte, St. Anthony, Clarenville, coastal Labrador and areas east but just outside of St. John's. There were people who would drive hours to St. John's for the start of their treatment, then stay in St. John's for the week and return home for the weekend. They did this for their entire treatment time saying that they needed the comfort/security of home and the costs didn't allow staying in St. John's. I had wished that I could have done the same but the costs would have put me in a worse situation. And the costs build up, it isn't cheap having cancer and receiving treatment in another region of the province. When you go through the treatment for cancer, be it surgery/chemo/radiation, you need to have comfort, security and no extra stress put upon you. Having to travel outside my region for the treatment that I needed to hopefully survive, was a stressor that I began to hate since it stripped me off things that I also needed to help get me through the ordeal. There is a saying that includes....'walk in my shoes' where you'd like another to experience what you've been through so that they too could understand the needs. But I wouldn't wish cancer upon anyone, it isn't a pleasant experience, mentally or physically, believe me. So to the Health Minister I ask, please rethink your decision. It would make such a difference to a large number of people outside of St. John's who have to travel there for treatment. I'm sure with the future hospital to be built in Corner Brook that room can be made for this unit and staff. I agree with Colleen in the need to 'rally' the troops to help secure a radiation unit on the west coast. West coasters may want this unit but far too many sit back and wait for others to do the rallying. Cancer patients, cancer survivors and their families usually are the ones, first hand, who see the need and participate. And also the few who know that it would improve the health of many others. I pray that those who think otherwise, are never stricken with that disease. But I ask you, if you didn't have the need to use this radiation unit, would you want to have a unit based on the West coast, to help others? If so, what would you do to get it....rally? Keep in mind, cancer is a disease that shows no social economical boundaries.