Ann Reynar, the woman whose chemotherapy treatments were delayed because of an oncologist shortage in Edmonton, died Thursday at her home in Leduc, Alta.
"Ann is at peace now. The pain is over," said her husband of 26 years, Wave Reynar. "I still have the pain but so do many others... and somehow I'm fighting the battle for them, for the people that are less fortunate than I am."
Ann Reynar was diagnosed with inoperable stage 4 colon cancer in early May. After she received her diagnosis, the couple was told to expect a call from Edmonton's Cross Cancer Clinic to schedule an appointment. No one called.
The clinic, faced with a shortage of oncologists, had been forced to put patients into two groups: patients for whom chemotherapy offered a good chance of recovery and those whose cancer was so advanced that treatment would prolong their life but not rid them of the disease.
People in the first group were given priority. Ann Reynar was among 13 patients in the second group.
The clinic called to offer Reynar an appointment six weeks after her diagnosis. But by then it was too late. Ann was too ill to be helped, her husband said.
"The worst thing for me was the mental anguish, was accepting and trying to accept that I was not going to get a phone call," he said. "They never intended to phone me. They gave me the impression that they would."
Reynar is angry about how his wife was treated.
"We were under no illusions that we were going to get out of this alive ... but not [to be given] any pain management or to be given enough medications just in case somebody screwed up and didn't make the phone call?
"How'd they think I was going to get morphine for my wife?"
The problems at the Cross Cancer Clinic were prompted by the loss of two of their oncologists. One left in January and another is on maternity leave until the fall. There was no one available to fill in.
Two oncologists are coming to work at the clinic later this year.