Saturday, July 18, 2009

Shona Holmes – Brain Tumour or Cyst Survivor?

I was very disappointed by the media's superficial coverage of Shona Homes, the Waterdown woman who has aided the American right wing by filming a commercial in which she describes herself as a ‘brain tumour survivor” whose life was saved because she used the U.S. private system to attend to her health problems. In allowing herself to be used by those U.S. vested interests who oppose any hint of public health care (even though it is the only Western industrialized country that leaves its citizens to the capricious mercy of the private insurers, and seems unbothered by the fact that 50 million Americans have no coverage), there is one major problem: her story as reported isn’t quite true.

A quick visit to the Mayo Clinic website reveals her actual condition, Rathke's cleft cyst, described as a “rare, fluid-filled sac [that] grows near the pituitary gland at the base of the brain and eventually can cause hormone and vision problems.” Nowhere is it described as potentially fatal, a clear contradiction of Ms Holmes’ claim in the commercial that within six months she would have been dead if left to the vagaries of the Canadian health system.

I feel especially upset by the propagandizing nature of her commercial due to the fact that last year my brother-in-law died of brain cancer. The truth is that from the moment he was diagnosed (days after he had his initial seizure) to the time he died, he received exemplary and timely care from a team of dedicated specialists employed by our allegedly flawed system in Ontario. Unfortunately, the nature of his brain cancer, multiforme glioblastoma, the same suffered by Ted Kennedy, meant a fatal outcome was inevitable.

In my view, despite her anxiety and suffering, Ms Holmes should be ashamed of herself for undermining Barrack Obama’s efforts to bring some humanity to a system that is badly in need of it, and calling into disrepute a Canadian system that we would all be much worse off without.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for your comments re: Shona Holmes' television commercial which is disturbing.
I had just finished an email to CH News asking them to look more carefully into her claims when I learned of your blog.
A few years ago I was diagnosed with bone cancer and got absolutely outstanding care. My initial visit to the family doctor was in June of that year. He sent me for tests, then to an oncologist. The specialist sent me for bloodwork, xrays, a bone scan, an MRI, and an ultrasound. All of these procedures were booked and completed within a month. The result: I needed surgery. The oncologist said it couldn't wait and booked an operating room during the cancer hospital's 2 week mandatory summer shutdown. I was the only patient on the surgical floor...eerie. When I apologized for bringing so many nurses and doctors in during their holiday they replied "This is actually the third time we have been in this week ...your surgery will be difficult and your oncologist wanted to make sure that we would do it smoothly so we have had two dress rehearsals.
Since that time I have needed 2 other I waited several months for because it was not "life threatening" the other was done quickly because it was a suspicious tumour. My experience has given me first hand knowledge of our health care system. Yes, there are times when I sit for hours in the waiting room before seeing a doctor and yes I had to wait months for one surgery but I simply smile and say "I was bumped to the front of the line when it was needed. ....obviously today someone is in more urgent need of my doctor"

Lorne said...

Many thanks for sharing your story. It has been my experience and that of my family and friends that whenever a potentially very serious health issue arises, medical attention is prompt, as is any required treatment.

If you read my next entry, you will see that I had a very disappointing experience with the local media; it seems they are indifferent at best to bringing out the truth about Shona Holmes' misrepresentations.

May I suggest that you submit your very moving and eloquent message to The Spectator?

Brain tumour said...

Brain tumour is very serious and fatal disease. The malevolent form of brain tumours, gliomas, make the surgical removal of these tumours extremely difficult. Microglial cells assist in the expansion of the tumour. It has been found that those patients with just a single copy of the tumour-repressing ANXA7 gene had poorer rate of survival in comparison to those with the normal two copies.