On October 7, 2023, Dan Quayle – a British Columbian, not the former vice president of the United States – turned 52. He was hoping to be told that he could begin chemotherapy after being diagnosed with esophageal cancer. It was not to be. “After 10 weeks in hospital, Quayle, a gregarious grandfather who put on his best silly act for his two grandkids, was in so much pain, unable to eat or walk, he opted for a medically assisted death on Nov. 24,” the National Post reported. “This was despite assurances from doctors that chemotherapy had the potential to prolong his life by a year.”
Throughout the agonizing wait, his family “prayed he would change his mind or get an 11th-hour call that chemo had been scheduled,” but were instead told consistently by the hospital that they were “backlogged.” The family is speaking out now “following the stories of two Vancouver Island women who went public with their decisions to seek treatment in the U.S. to avoid delays in B.C.” – and Dan’s wife believes that she could still have her husband today if he’d gotten the treatment he needed. In fact, wait times for cancer patients who are literally dying while waiting for treatment keep getting worse.
When Dan Quayle died by lethal injection, he still hadn’t been given a timeline for when he might get chemotherapy. It reminds me of the posthumously published obituary written by a Winnipeg woman who chose to die by assisted suicide after being refused the treatments she needed: “I could have had more time if I had more help.”
Indeed, one of the reasons Quayle felt that a lethal injection was his only option is because he didn’t have the financial resources to get help that was available elsewhere – but as a price. “If we had more money, we could have gone to the States,” his wife told the National Post sadly. “But we’re just regular people.”
She is likely referring to the two Vancouver Island women who decided to go public with their own experiences with the BC health care system. Global News published one story with the headline “B.C. woman gets surgery in U.S., says wait times at home could have cost her life” about Allison Ducluzeau, who paid $200,000 for surgery in the United States after she was told by a BC oncologist that she was not a candidate for the treatment that saved her life. After successfully getting treatment in the U.S., she recently got married – and is appalled by how she was treated in BC. In fact, she wasn’t offered life-saving treatment – but she was offered assisted suicide.
“There’s a lot of promises I’m hearing,” she told Global News. “But, you know, we need boots-on-the-ground action right now. What can you do to shorten these wait times? How can you prioritize cases so that people with aggressive stage four cancer get seen by someone and when they do get seen, they get offered treatment and not MAID like I was the first time?”
Another woman, 43-year-old Kristin Logan of Campbell River, was diagnosed with Stage 4 ovarian cancer – but faced a three or four month wait for treatment in British Columbia. She went to Washington State for chemotherapy, instead – she could afford it because the treatment was covered due to her dual citizenship and veteran status. When the health minister responded to her case by saying that the system “doesn’t always get it right,” she responded with fury: “To suggest that the system merely ‘doesn’t always get it right’ is a gross understatement, bordering on denial. Our healthcare system isn’t tripping over minor hurdles; it’s plummeting off a cliff. We’re not dealing with ‘occasional misses’; we’re grappling with a chronically diseased system where inefficiency and neglect have become the norm.”
What does this mean? It means that people are dying on waitlists – and while they suffer, often horribly, they are offered assisted suicide when they are their most vulnerable. And if the Trudeau Liberals get their way, in March of next year the floodgates will open and assisted suicide will also be available to those suffering with mental illness. Waitlists for mental health assistance and psychiatric care are even longer – I know people who have waited for years merely for an appointment. Many Canadians simply do not have access to this care. And so not only will Canadians die on waitlists; many will be offered assisted suicide while they are on waitlists, and many will, out of desperation, say yes.