Cancer patients want local chemotherapy treatments


By David F. Rooney

Local cancer patients hope to persuade BC Health Minister Terry Lake to allow chemotherapy treatments at Queen Victoria Hospital at least during the winter when dangerous driving conditions prevent many from making their out-of-town appointments.

Doug Hamilton of the Revelstoke Cancer Support Group said Monday, March 3, that patients and other residents who support the concept of local chemotherapy treatments should write to Lake at his Legislature office,, or his Health Ministry office, They should also CC MLA Norm Macdonald at Handwritten or typed letters can also be sent via Canada Post to Health Minister Terry Lake at PO Box 9050, Stn Prov Gov, Victoria, BC, V8W 9E2. Copies of those letters should be sent to MLA Norm Macdonald at his constituency office in Golden. The address there is: 104 – 806 9th Street N,
Box 2052,
Golden, BC,
V0A 1H0.

All letters should be original — not form letters. Original letters carry more weight with political leaders and government officials than form letters.

MLA Norm Macdonald thinks the circumstances that affect Revelstoke cancer patients are unique and worthy of consideration by the province.

“Revelstoke is in a somewhat unique situation in that it has a significant population that is often cut off completely from its neighbouring communities, and this means that needing to travel out of the community for medical treatment leaves patients in a very precarious position,” Macdonald told The Revelstoke Current.

“Dangerous winter driving conditions and road closures can make it impossible for cancer patients to travel to chemotherapy appointments.  I fully support the work of the Revelstoke Cancer Support Group in their efforts to lobby Minister Lake to allow chemotherapy services to be provided at QVH.”

The BC Cancer Agency is responsible for the administration of cancer treatments and has set criteria for the provision of chemotherapy treatments. Chemotherapy is administered at Interior Health facilities in Salmon Arm, Vernon, Kamloops and Kelowna. And while Revelstoke cancer patients have pressed for local chemotherapy treatments in the past, their requests have gone nowhere.

“The BC Cancer Agency balances the need to be as close to a patient’s community as possible, while ensuring safety and high quality are maintained,” BC Cancer Agency Communications Officer Jenn Currie said on Thursday. “This is done at our six centres across BC and through the Communities Oncology Network.

“Chemotherapy requires that a framework of treatment and care is in place, to ensure safety. Staff need to have a high level of expertise in not only delivering the treatment but also managing the side effects and any complications of therapy.  We ensure that nurses, pharmacists, doctors and other health-care team members receive the ongoing training they need to administer the therapeutics.”

A suitable team must be in place with 24-hour coverage in a community, she said.