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.