News » Whistler

Whistler mom's life-saving drug gets funding from BC Cancer Agency

Patricia Stoop vows to keep lobbying for change in health care system



The hard lobbying, the passionate letter writing, the baring of her soul and sharing her most private journey, has paid off for cancer patient Patricia Stoop.

The 43-year-old mother of two will no longer have to pay for her own cancer treatments... for the time being.

The BC Cancer Agency will now fund the drug Perjeta, which has had a significant effect on battling her breast cancer, seven months after it was approved by Health Canada.

It's a temporary respite for Stoop from the gnawing financial worry that came with each intravaneous dose of Perjeta, at a cost of $3,600 every three weeks.

She feels relieved, excited and... a certain satisfaction that all her lobbying paid off.

"Nobody will tell me that I made a change... but it feels like it was (my efforts that helped)," said Stoop, whose cancer metasticized to her liver. "I worked really hard and it happened."

But she's not taking it for granted.

That's because though Perjeta is saving Stoop's life right now, it may stop working. At her very next appointment in December, her oncologist may recommend a new drug, depending on her results.

And that new drug, Kadcyla, isn't covered at the moment; stuck in limbo between approval for use and approval for funding.

That means it's available in Canada —for those who can pay for it.

So Stoop's fight continues against a system that is ultimately flawed.

"You don't have equal treatments, equal options," said Stoop, a trace of anger lacing her voice.

"That's the thing that really gets me."

And so, the lobbying, the letter writing, the advocacy work continues.

"I would like to see the roll out of the drug and the funding of the drug coming together," said Stoop, who muses that the lag may be in place for governments and health agencies to negotiate prices with the drug companies.

If that's the case, she said, there needs to be a special fund that people can access in the meantime.

"That could be my next set of letters to the government," said Stoop.

Stoop, who worked as an occupational therapist before she was diagnosed with cancer, knows how to work the system.

She used to fight for people to have wheelchairs, however, not drugs that would save their lives.

"I see a lot of injustice in the system," she said.

It's one of the reasons why she's been reluctant to touch her nest egg of more than $30,000, raised by the community in September.

She wants to keep the bulk of that intact because she knows only too well that the health care system may not come through for her.

"I've been so afraid that it might be needed," she said.

In the meantime, however: "I can breathe."