A mother in Nova Scotia living with cancer is challenging Premier Stephen McNeil to meet with her after a years-long battle with the province’s health-care system.
In an emotional video posted to her Facebook page this week, Inez Rudderham said she went undiagnosed for two years because she couldn’t access a family doctor. By the time she was diagnosed, her anal cancer had progressed to its third stage.
“I dare you to take a meeting with me, and explain to me, and look into my eyes and tell me that there is no health-care crisis in my province of Nova Scotia,” said Rudderham, 33, as she wiped away tears.
“I dare you.”
Rudderham said she was turned away from emergency departments three times before her concerns were taken seriously.
“I fought for my life,” said Inez, who said radiation treatments on her pelvis has left her “barren and infertile.”
“At 33, I am in menopause because when my tumour was a polyp I did not have access to a family doctor and the ERs wouldn’t help me.”
Rudderham also spoke about mental-health services in Nova Scotia.
She said she began pursuing mental-health services in January to help her cope with her diagnosis. She said she will have to wait until the summer to receive counselling.
“This is the face of the health-care crisis in Nova Scotia. I cannot receive help for trauma that I experienced because of this failed system until July,” she said.
“What about my four-year-old daughter who doesn’t have me there, fully, because I need help and I’m not receiving it?”
The video has taken social media by storm, amassing over 50,000 shares since it was posted on Tuesday.
Response from the province
On Thursday, Premier Stephen McNeil said he has asked the Health Department to reach out to Rudderham to find out more about her situation.
He said he will not commit to meeting her until he hears back from the department.
“There are challenges in the health-care system in parts of accessing primary care. We’ve always acknowledged that,” he said. “But we’ve continued to make adjustments.”
Speaking with reporters following a cabinet meeting in Halifax, Health Minister Randy Delorey said he had seen the video Wednesday evening and said he was moved by it.
He said staff with the Nova Scotia Health Authority have tried to make contact with Rudderham.
“I think, again, there’s some very specific concerns that were being raised about an individual’s personal experiences within the health-care system,” said Delorey.
“I think the health authority’s taking the right approach to reach out, to connect … with the individual as they do and provide opportunities.”
Delorey shied away from using terms like “crisis” in reference to the province’s health-care system, saying issues within the system are shared across the country.
He also said the province is making progress through new investments and programs.
“We’ve been focused on these efforts for the last number of years,” he said. “Our focus has been on primary care and we’ve been seeing those improvements.”
No sense of urgency: PC MLA
Also speaking after the meeting, Tory MLA Tim Halman said there has to be a “sense of urgency” when it comes to fixing gaps in Nova Scotia’s health-care system.
“This is heartbreaking. If anyone knows my story, watching that video, I see a lot there on so many levels,” he said, referencing his wife who died from cancer in 2017.
“From the perspective of an MLA, our system failed her.”
Halman said there has been a number of “wake-up” calls in recent years, but he doesn’t believe the government has a sense of urgency in addressing these issues.
“I think this wake-up call has really, really, opened the eyes of Nova Scotians. If anyone hasn’t seen the video, you need to see it,” he said.
“It’s so powerful, and it reminds us that all of us have to do better in delivering health care and mental health in this province.”
Attempts to reach Rudderham for comment were unsuccessful.
This content was originally published here.