Nine out of 10 Canadian families battling cancer are also battling financial debt, according to a study released Thursday.
The Canadian Cancer Society, in partnership with the Canadian Cancer Action Network, released a three-year study in Winnipeg that examined the financial hardship that can be brought on by a cancer diagnosis.
For some, a diagnosis begins a financial tailspin that pushes ordinary people over the edge resulting in debt, distress, bankruptcy and even a lifetime on social assistance.
Winnipegger Teresa Solta knows the story first hand. Within a year of her youngest daughter's spinal cord cancer diagnosis, Solta went from being a successful business owner to full-time caregiver.
She suddenly had very little income and four children to look after.
One year later, the accountant herself was diagnosed with leukemia and was forced to stop work entirely. In the months that followed, she declared bankruptcy, lost her home and moved with her four children into her parents' two-bedroom apartment..
"My pride took such a beating because I was very pleased with the fact that I'd been so self-sufficient," she said.
"Just imagine what it feels like to have a 13-year-old break down in tears and tell you that, 'we're homeless.' That really hurts. That broke my heart."
The Cancer Society is calling for income stability for patients and caregivers and more funding for affordable cancer drugs and medical equipment.