Happy New Year! Cheers to new beginnings and a better year for us all.
My husband (Markus) had extensive Moh’s facial surgery for skin cancer (after nearly a year wait) during the first week of June in 2020 – see this post for the first half of the story. Shortly after surgery, Markus noticed a spot emerge in the location of the new formed skin, very close to where the cancer that had been removed, was. Markus contacted his surgeon about it by email with follow up photos, he recommended to observe it but leave it alone as the skin was still new and forming. Upon a follow up with the local dermatology office about six months after, the Dr offered to spray the (precancerous) spot with a solution however the surgeon said not to as the skin still needed to heal and form. Upon one of his distance consultations, Markus thought for sure the surgeon said that if the spot was still there during his 1 year follow up with him, that he would deal with it there in the office by spraying it. Markus traveled to Vancouver for 1 year follow up in June of 2021, the apt was about 15 mins long, confirmed the healed skin and scar looked good, and that the spot appeared to be precancerous or cancerous, but wouldn’t spray it or remove it then and there, telling Markus to go back to the start of the healthcare line by attending a walk in clinic for a referral to a dermatology office on Vancouver Island. Wait times were said to be about a year. So here we go again. Markus had to wait a year for surgery, while a cancer grew and resulted in major facial surgery, yet cancer grew back almost immediately. The surgeon was quick to point out that it was by no fault of his work, that cancer had remerged right over the surgical site.
With no other options, Markus went to a walk in clinic in late June to get a referral appointment for the spot of concern, was warned again, about long wait times. Over the next couple of months, Markus noticed the spot would begin to fester, like the one before it. It would rise up, retreat and so forth, each time creating a larger and more invasive impact. Markus began taking a medicinal fungi supplement and noticed the spot settled down as it’s an immune system aid. This was promising to buy time but not going to remove the problem. After 3 months, Markus felt concerned and wanted to see about expediting an appointment which required him to go back to the walk in clinic. He first tried to call the clinic about this but then found the Dr he had dealt with previously was no longer at the clinic (left island all together) and he would have to come in person. With no car, Markus walked to the local corner clinic on a Saturday morning and joined a line up before opening, only to find out that the clinic decided to remain closed for the day. Then, a small group carpooled to the next walk in clinic to find a large line formed and was cut off from being seen as late at 8 pm. He knew he was fucked. He called a hotline that recommended him to call the online Dr system. When he called that, he was hung up on before even speaking with a Dr and was met by a bot who told him to go back to the original doctor (you know, the one who no longer works in the area?) and locked him out of the website.
At this point we knew the wait times would take him well over a year to resolve (wait for consultation up to 1 year, biopsy = 3 months, wait time for removal up to another year = 2 years) just look at part one of this story to see how that went. My mother (thanks mom) contacted her local walk in clinic in Toronto who agreed to see Markus virtually and set him up with a Toronto dermatology clinic referral – that appointment was available to him once he traveled to Toronto from Victoria. We booked plane tickets, flew a month later and he had the cancer cut out within days of arriving. The biopsy came back a week later (not 3 month later) confirming it was cancer and that it had all be removed (if not, he was facing another surgery). After 2.5 years, he was finally cleared of skin cancer. The clinic in Toronto said that had he not come to get it removed there, it would have grown resulting in another round of major facial surgery with the wait times in tow.
It’s now been 6 months since his post surgical follow-up and walk in clinic apt referral to a local dermatology office, and no one has called – we plan to wait and see just how long it takes before that call comes in. No one here knows, that he is skin cancer free and it appears that no one cares. Shame on BC healthcare. Many people are quick to assume this is because of COVID. No, this started the year before COVID happened (in 2019). Of course in the meantime the pandemic has been an obstacle course for non-COVID related issues but the management of his skin cancer has been deplorable from the start. If BC healthcare had it their way, he’d be lined up for another round of major facial surgery. This system does not look out for the patient and if you’re not on top of this, you will loose. My suggestion is to leave the province as soon as possible and get help elsewhere. The clinic in Toronto has provided Markus with the assurance that should he need any further assistance, not to hesitate contacting them. The amount of stress this situation has caused both of us is difficult to describe. I cried a lot when it was finally over but we are both still angry and as long as we are living in BC, we fear for our health. It’s good to know there is something out there to help, even if it requires plane tickets. For both our health and sanity, it’s worth its weight in gold. This post is catharsis for me but also to warn others so it doesn’t happen to them.