Pamela Chan, BCFamily.ca/ Editorial

A little over a year ago, I found myself in a situation that really increased my stress levels.  My doctors were running extra tests for two types of cancer at the same time.  While one might seem routine to doctors, the other investigation involved a test that was less than pleasant. Fortunately, I didn’t know about it until just before it was administered. If I’d had to anticipate this test, I probably would have been basically – well – afraid.

A few months ago I found myself going through a third round of tests for yet another condition. After being expedited into a specialist’s office, it was confirmed that I could add a 2nd chronic condition to the 1st one I have.  Or should I say the first one that took over a decade to confirm.  This latest one took even longer.  Both conditions cause a lot of health complications that can be stressful at a minimum, and very distressing in other ways because they can cause other conditions.  I don’t know about this second disease, but the first one has the word “disease” in the title, which always seemed regrettable to me. I recall that when I first told my sibling the news over the phone, saying the word “disease” caused me to start sobbing.

Normally I don’t write about this topic online because I’m wary of the admin assistant who has been tasked by a hiring manage to tip toe through my digital trail and look for “red flags”. “Oh hello there.  Gotcha. Just a note that I’m just as capable as the next person, thanks.  We’ve all got our challenges.  And that’s a fact.”

I digress.

These recent experiences have left me a bit wary of testing but it’s also given me more perspective about a topic that I’ve already considered.  Despite the fact that it took so long for these diagnoses to come in, the stark reality is that I’m lucky to have access to universal medical coverage and to a health system that can provide this medical service.

Because there are millions of women around the world who have one of either conditions and they have no support.  And in the case of the first condition, in the old days it used to have a devastating effect on a person’s life and could even cause early death.

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As the next provincial election draws closer, the topic of “access to health care” has started to weigh heavily on my mind.  How can we have the most appropriate type of public discourse that measures how our medical services are doing (from hospitals as a whole, to doctors, nurses and all the other staff involved)?  Will citizens ask the right questions of the political candidates and will they even ask the questions? Of course some will be raising the topic of funding and support for healthcare (including care for aging seniors which is facing some dire funding realities). But will enough people ask the questions and will this topic be given enough due consideration? Or will we be distracted by whatever topic the most vocal voices push out to distract us from the more important issues.

Yeh, we’re onto that trick.

A year ago I found myself unexpectedly using the emergency room in a local hospital.  And isn’t that always the way with the ER?  The experience was a real eye opener about the realities that patients are facing and the realities that staff face working in the hospitals.

What are your thoughts about these questions and the upcoming election? Have you been using medical services more intensely lately and what conclusions have you drawn? What types of questions will you be asking of politicians as they send you an invitation to a Meet and Greet or come knocking at your door?

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