Top News

Valleyfield woman wants P.E.I government to cover more treatments for those with life-threatening illnesses

Valleyfield resident Melanie Fraser enjoys the beach with her husband, Robert, in a picture taken several years ago. Fraser is fighting terminal cancer and will be starting the first round of a new drug today. However, it is not covered under the province’s drug formulary. She is calling on the province to do more for those with life-threatening illnesses whose last-option drugs are not covered.
Valleyfield resident Melanie Fraser enjoys the beach with her husband, Robert, in a picture taken several years ago. Fraser is fighting terminal cancer and will be starting the first round of a new drug today. However, it is not covered under the province’s drug formulary. She is calling on the province to do more for those with life-threatening illnesses whose last-option drugs are not covered. - Contributed

Melanie Fraser doesn’t want anyone else to go through the same suffering she has endured in order to obtain life-prolonging treatment.

However, the 44-year-old mother of three battling terminal cancer knows she’s not alone.

Fraser, a Valleyfield resident who has been battling cancer for the past six years, has exhausted many of her treatment options and will start her first round of a new drug, Vectibix, Thursday.

But, it will be without any financial help from the province.

“(I believe) P.E.I. is the only province that doesn’t pay for this drug,” said Fraser during an interview with The Guardian, noting that the cost is about $5,760 a month. “It’s been quite the battle … but I’m not willing to give up, that’s for sure. I have too much I want to do with my family.”

Many in the public became aware of Fraser’s struggle to get the drug covered by the province after it was brought up in P.E.I.’s legislature on Tuesday.

Fraser’s battle with cancer began in 2012.

In 2014, she was told her cancer was terminal and that she had an average of two years to live.

Gradually, her rounds of chemotherapy stopped working, and last week Fraser found out her cancer has likely spread to her spine.

Vectibix was previously presented to Fraser as somewhat of a final option for those who are no longer benefiting from chemotherapy.

Related: Opposition MLA questions P.E.I. government's priorities on health care

Fraser had attempted to get accepted into a drug trial in Toronto, while her doctor also fought to get it covered as compassionate care. Both attempts were denied.

Fraser had also looked at moving to Nova Scotia to get the drug covered.

“I just don’t have that much time,” she said, noting it would have also required her to leave her family.

“It’s not just cancer, there are many people with life-threatening illnesses. When you’re fighting for your life and can’t get the drugs that may benefit you, it’s tough to deal with. There has to be more done to all Islanders and Canadians in these situations, it’s just not right.”
– Melanie Fraser

The ordeal has not just been tough for Fraser, who lives off CPP disability and says that all but $300 of her income last year went towards medical expenses while her husband paid the rest of the family’s bills.

“So how can I afford any other drugs?” asked Fraser, who also believes that no new oncology drugs have been added in P.E.I. for about two years.

After lobbying the company that makes Vectibix, Fraser said she was able to get it to cover 50 per cent of the drug if she would pay the rest out of pocket.

She noted her three adult children, ages 27, 22 and 19, as well as other family members have pitched in to help pay for the treatment.

“They all pulled together to try, and if the treatment works, we’ll go from there,” said Fraser, who also has three grandchildren. “My kids are remarkable … my kids are taking from their weekly pay (to pay for the drug) … it breaks my heart that they have to do that.”

Fraser had made a Facebook post of her struggle on Monday to make others aware of the situation and has gotten feedback from individuals throughout Canada.

While she said she’s fortunate to have a large and supportive family, she knows there are others fighting for last-option drugs that aren’t covered through provincial formularies.

“It’s not just cancer, there are many people with life-threatening illnesses. When you’re fighting for your life and can’t get the drugs that may benefit you, it’s tough to deal with,” she said. “There has to be more done to all Islanders and Canadians in these situations, it’s just not right.”

Twitter.com/Mitch_PEI

Did this story inform or enhance your perspective on this subject?
1 being least likely, and 10 being most likely

Recent Stories