Canada’s health care system has been a source of national pride for as long as I can remember — a view that was shattered following my experience as a patient advocate during my late father Henry’s cancer journey. The depths of perversity were made apparent to me when I was charged over $1,000 to access my father’s medical records, bringing to light a serious, long-term, systemic problem with access ...

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Part 4 of a series. By the time my father’s metastatic prostate cancer was diagnosed, he was already experiencing symptoms of poor appetite and weight loss, which grew progressively worse following his first hospital admission. As his nutritional status continued to decline, the protein level in his blood decreased, causing significant fluid buildup in his legs and abdomen. During his hospital stays, we consulted with dietitians who created individualized ...

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Part 3 of a series. Patients with advanced cancer are particularly vulnerable to infection due to a compromised immune system. Moreover, the typical symptoms of serious infection, such as fever and chills, may be absent in cancer patients. If not identified and treated early, infection can lead to sepsis, a life-threatening reaction of the immune system that causes organ failure, shock, and death, as ...

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Part 2 of a series. My own self-appointed role as my father’s health care advocate during his prostate cancer battle was a natural consequence of my training as a medical researcher. After earning a PhD in medical science, I became the elected family health and wellness guru, offering insight into everything from hangnails to stem cells, with the ongoing disclaimer that “I’m not a doctor, I just play one ...

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Part 1 of a series. The battle I walk into my parents’ home to pick my mom up for a family gathering. And like most days over the past few weeks, palpable sorrow greets me at the door. Our old dog lies sleeping on the couch, heavy with years, she’s difficult to rouse. She finally welcomes me with a geriatric tail wag and labored breathing. I glance at the ...

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