ECONOMY – An Economy couple is ramping up their efforts to advocate on behalf of cancer survivors who face obstacles accessing provincial funding for transportation and lodging related to treatments.
Economy couple Susan Taylor Simpson and Maynard Simpson are sharing their story about fighting for provincial assistance for travelling and lodging during cancer treatments. They are also urging the government to raise the funding level available to Nova Scotians. Monique Chiasson – Truro Daily News
Susan Taylor Simpson and her husband Maynard Simpson have personal reasons for their passionate plea. Maynard, 67, was diagnosed on Jan. 4 with cancer of the esophagus and underwent chemotherapy and radiation treatments in Halifax. He was pronounced cancer-free five months after his diagnosis.
During his treatments, Maynard applied for provincial funding through the Boarding, Transportation and Ostomy (BTO) Program, which is offered by MSI. The initiative assists people with cancer who are low income and require travelling and accommodations while undergoing treatments. The program, however, has a family income limit of $15,720 and the couple was disheartened to hear they didn’t qualify because their annual income exceeded the assistance threshold by $238.
“You never know when you can get something like (cancer). It’s worse not knowing if you have enough money,” Maynard told the Truro Daily News, confirming he spent more than $2,000 on lodging, parking, gas and miscellaneous during treatments.
Ultimately, the couple received the funding by talking with BTO program representatives, who advocated on their behalf with MSI. However, the experience opened their eyes to others who may be going through similar obstacles.
Because of that, the Simpsons, who own a beef farm, continue to work with the Canadian Cancer Society, have shared their story in the society’s September newsletter and are aiming to help other cancer-stricken Nova Scotians who are low income by urging the government and politicians of all parties to work towards raising the funding threshold from $15,720 to $25,000.
“You don’t want someone to have to decide between financial ruin or not taking their treatment … we are so blessed and it’s our duty to help other Nova Scotians because we know their pain,” said Susan, 57. “There’s a lot of people going through this and a lot of people can’t speak up for themselves. I want cancer survivors to know they have someone fighting for them.”
They have also delivered letters regarding the issue to Province House in May and have contacted some local politicians as well as provincial leaders in all parties.
“The funding for BTO was put in effect in 1994 and it’s never increased,” said Susan, adding the Simpsons would be taking their concerns to the public at this time even if there wasn’t an election taking place.
“We’ve been talking to (politicans) since (Maynard’s diagnosis), way before an election was called,” said Susan.
She said NDP representatives haven’t returned her many phone calls about the issue but other party leaders – including Colchester North MLA/Liberal candidate Karen Casey and provincial PC Party Leader Jamie Baillie – have indicated to her they agree the funding threshold should be raised to $25,000.
“I’m not here to bash the NDP …. but I’ve not been given a definite answer on this. We want movement,” said Susan.
The couple intend on keeping the public up-to-date with any progress made with provincial funding options.