Cancer patients and their families are worried about what will happen now that the Yukon's only chemotherapy nurse has left the city for three weeks.

After she leaves, patients will have to travel to Vancouver for treatment.

Whitehorse General Hospital officials are trying to come up with an alternative, but the news is worrying to cancer patients and their families.

Leslie Smith has cancer throughout most of her body. She takes morphine for the pain and relies on family and friends and a local nurse to help her with her medication and day-to-day chores.


Jason Bilsky, the CEO of the Yukon Hospital Corporation, said they are looking for a permanent solution to always have nurses able to administer chemotherapy treatment. (CBC)

"They are the ones that come in here and help me after. They make sure there are meals on the table, that I am eating right, that I am taking my medication. It takes a lot to take care of a person that has cancer," she said.

Smith says chemo is very hard on her body, and she needs a lot of rest and assistance. She worries what will happen if she has to leave the territory for treatment.

"It will be really difficult for me to leave, you know I am 61 years old, it's going to take a lot of energy to go — go out on a plane, go out to Vancouver. You know, Vancouver is a big city, you have to try to find a place where you can settle really good before you can go and see the doctor there," she said.

Whitehorse General Hospital officials say there is a shortage of chemotherapy nurses across Canada and they are still looking at a number of ways to solve the problem.

"We actually have somebody even… internally here that previously has been trained with chemotherapy treatment, and we are looking at bringing that person back up to full certification and using that option," said Jason Bilsky, the CEO of the Yukon Hospital Corporation.

"There are a number of options on the table, but certainly my goal is to make sure there is a permanent solution that is workable," he said.

Smith hopes the hospital starts to train existing nurses so that patients like her can always stay home with their family and rest in their own beds after chemotherapy treatment.