Monday 30 September 2013


What if you had cancer --- in Australia?
Haroon does.  If you have been following our page for a long time, you might remember Haroon.  He was one of our first posts.  Back then, we were just getting our page going - posting photos with a few sentences.  

We'd like to tell you a bit more about Haroon, and who better to tell you than Haroon himself?!  This post is the kick off to our 'Guest Blogger' series.   From time to time we will have Guest Bloggers who will, in their own words, give you their run down on a situation. 

Most of our readers are in Canada but we have noted we also have regular readers from across the globe.  If you or a loved one has received, or is receiving cancer treatment, no doubt you have run across circumstances where things have gotten mixed up.  Mixed up appointment times, mixed messages from your doctors/nurses on the status of your case, diagnostic technicians giving you 'the look' that makes you paranoid...  At those times  you think, 'if only' I were in (insert the country of your choice here), things would not get 'fouled up' as they do 'here'.

We asked Haroon if he would prepare a few words on what cancer treatment has been like for him in Australia.  Here is what he said:

"Australia's Heath care system for cancer patients? Better than I thought, it turned out.

After the initial shock of being diagnosed with cancer I got caught up in the confusing whirlwind of seeing different specialists, getting various scans, tests, being prodded & poked & had needles stuck in me. The needles thing (FNA - Fine Needle Aspiration if anyone's interested) happened twice, because the first time I was sent to the wrong specialist; she was more used to dealing with pregnant mothers! 
So my wife and I soon got very frustrated with the whole thing, thinking it was all the fault of the medical system for not getting their act together, explaining what they were doing properly and seemingly leaving all the coordination to us. I have since learned that this is the usual impression of most cancer patients everywhere. When it come down to it, the doctors knew exactly what they were doing, the medical profession moved very quickly and I got my vital operation almost before I knew what was happening.

The specialist who followed up on my case seemed very serious & promised to watch me like a hawk for the next few years. In fact he has a sense of humour, is quite approachable and finds time for our thousand and one questions whenever we see him. I have met other patients and most of them seem to feel they have received good care too. So, all in all, Australia's health care system seems to work quite well."

This gives perspective doesn't it?  It seems when you are in the thick of your diagnostics and your treatment plan is being determined, there is so much uncertainty.  You become acutely aware of inefficiencies in the system and you get cranky for being 'shoved around' like a nameless, faceless, entity.  Sometimes you feel like no one cares and you are one of the people who have 'fallen through a crack'.  You don't fully appreciate that odds are, there is actually a health care 'team' working on your case.  No system is perfect.  No health care team is perfect.  Whether your health care system is universal or 'pay as you go', no matter where in world you are, when you look back, you will likely realize you had better care than you thought you did, but of utmost importance is that you, or someone close to you, act as an advocate on your behalf within the system.  It helps to smooth out the imperfections.

Thank you Haroon!

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