Ontario woman with cancer has surgery postponed indefinitely

A 30-year-old Ontario woman diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer has been indefinitely postponed and says it may be too late to save her if the procedure continues to be postponed.

Woodbridge, Ont.; Ms Cassandra de Maria was diagnosed with cancer in 2020 and has undergone 17 rounds of chemotherapy since then.

“Right now, I’m waiting for my next big surgery,” Di Maria told CTV News Toronto on Thursday. “I have no idea when I’ll have this surgery and I’m at a dead end.”

In order to undergo the surgery, doctors told Di Maria in late October that she needed to stop chemotherapy for a few weeks until her body was strong enough to handle the procedure, which was originally scheduled for December.

She said in December that she received a notice that the surgery had been postponed to January, and was later told that date had also been cancelled.

In an email seen by CTV News Toronto, a representative from Mount Sinai Hospital told Di Maria that the surgery was called off due to “the situation with COVID-19” and that “everything is being canceled at this point.”

Meanwhile, Di Maria has not received any chemotherapy should an appointment for surgery become available.

“I’m frustrated because I’m worried about growth during the time I’ve been off chemotherapy,” she said. “The chances of the cancer spreading are very high. I’m kind of stuck with what I’m doing, unfortunately.”

She said she understands the pressures the health care system is facing but feels that her immediate needs are not being met and doesn’t understand why cancer surgery hasn’t been done.

“Covid-19 patients are getting all the care right now and we’re in trouble, which is horrible,” she said. “I would consider my surgery urgent, so I’m not really sure why it is affected.”

Cassandra de Maria

The Ontario government announced earlier this month that non-urgent surgeries will be postponed in order to keep hospital beds empty during the Omicron COVID-19 wave.

When asked about Di Maria’s situation, a spokesperson for the Department of Health said, “We know this difficult decision can be heartbreaking for people who need hospital care.”

“Surgical resources are managed independently in each Ontario hospital. As such, each organization must balance the needs of scheduled urgent surgery patients, emergency surgery patients, and those of hospital critical care patients, while also balancing the need to limit harm to patients By looking at surgeries and procedures that should not be delayed, such as bypass surgeries and most cancer surgeries.”

CTV News Toronto has contacted Mount Sinai Hospital for information regarding Di Maria’s situation and is awaiting a response.

Meanwhile, Di Maria, who was recently engaged, said she wants to get past this hurdle so she can look forward to other things in life, such as planning her wedding in April 2023.

“It was hard and scary,” she said. “I’m not the only one experiencing this. There are a lot of people out there and something needs to change. This whole situation needs to be reassessed.”

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