About Helping Grace Conquer Cancer
Grace has breast cancer. For 20 years she has lived and worked full time in central Toronto. She needs immediate surgery. Then she will need chemotherapy, meds and radiation. With treatment, Grace has a chance to live. Without it, she will not make it. Grace is young, 51.
Grace is medically uninsured. Despite her contributions, Canada still denies Grace access to federal health coverage. Ontario denies her too. For Grace, OHIP means NOHIP.
When she first felt the hard tender lump in her breast Grace was afraid. Walk-in clinics turned her away because she could not pay. After borrowing the money, Grace went back. A mammogram confirmed Grace had breast cancer.
A friend told her about our free clinics. That's when volunteer nurses, doctors, mental health therapists in Scarborough provided basic care to Grace, without fees - examinations, x-rays, medications, ultrasounds, blood tests, a mental health counsellor for her depression and distress.
But "basic care" will not be enough. Donors paid for Grace's breast lump biopsy. A volunteer cancer specialist donated her time to assess Grace and provide a plan for her care.
Surgery to remove the cancer, then chemo and radiation lies urgently ahead. The cost will be an estimated $35,000.
Our volunteer doctors, NPs, nurses, counsellors and staff are frustrated, angry. Are Canadians alright with the stark reality that Grace supports this country, her community like we do, every day? Then when she is sick, with breast cancer, is Grace not Canadian enough to receive care? It is like a "medical hazing". We partake of the prosperity Grace provides with her work and taxes. And the estimated one million others like her every day in Canada, doing the dirty, dangerous and deadly work we won't.
One of Grace's jobs was helping clean toilets in a hospital. A hospital that won't treat her now when she is sick.
Grace arrived in Canada in 2001. A young woman. Her application to be a Caregiver was accepted. She began work as a Nanny.
Grace met someone. They became engaged, then married. Not long after, the abuse started. All sorts of abuse. Her husband beat her regularly. He was Canadian, from her own country, culture. He made Grace's life very difficult, miserable. He followed her, to her school, work home.
Grace's employer fired her. Afraid for the children. Her husband prevented her from finding new work. He threatened her immigration status, threatened to report phoney breaches. Grace ran and went into hiding.
When Grace was fired she had been employed for 18 months. That is 6 month's shy of the 24 months required for health coverage and status. She stayed in the shadows for a long time, afraid. Grace took jobs off the grid to pay for her basement apartment.
She saved her money to retain lawyers, who took her money. No status progress occurred for Grace. No health care access was given. Afraid to come forward the longer her ordeal ensued, not knowing how, or her rights, afraid of being sent back, Grace stayed off the grid, worked, mostly at factories and in sweatshops making things, clothing.
Now, Grace has stepped out of the shadows in Canada. Because the choice is either that or dying. We are now seeking a lawyer who will help Grace with a claim. Nothing yet.
Our first goal is to raise $12,000 to have cancer removed surgically.