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Opinion: 'I have breast cancer and can't be treated because of the coronavirus'

Last Wednesday morning I sat across from my surgical oncologist in a Toronto hospital and focused all my attention on not crying as she explained that the potentially life-saving surgery I’d been waiting for was on hold—indefinitely—because of COVID-19. “They’re not booking your procedure at all,” she said. She looked tired, as though she hadn’t slept in weeks.

My “procedure” is a mastectomy, lymph node biopsy and immediate reconstruction. It’s an eight-hour surgery. “We could move four other patients through in that time,” one of my surgeon’s assistants told me bluntly. And, for one brief, terribly selfish moment, I didn’t care. I just wanted to go and bang on someone’s door and insist that I need this surgery. And I’ve waited patiently for it, ever since I was first called back for more tests after a routine mammogram last November.

But the waiting room in the hospital’s breast cancer clinic was busy and I knew I wasn’t the only one grappling with news of a treatment postponed. There are thousands of casualties of COVID-19 outside of those who have actually fallen ill from the virus: small business owners, Olympic athletes, patients waiting to have cancer removed. I’m just one of many.

To read the rest of Sydney’s story on macleans.ca, click here.

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