A 75-year-old cancer survivor plans to stage a short sit-in Tuesday at Windsor Regional Hospital.
Doreen Gravelle is upset Cancer Care Ontario is threatening to suspend funding for all cancer surgery in Windsor, beginning Dec. 1.
If Windsor Regional Hospital continues conducting thoracic cancer surgery, funding for all cancer surgeries will be suspended.
Cancer Care Ontario says Windsor doesn't meet thoracic cancer surgery standards. Starting Dec. 1, people needing surgery will have to go to London or another qualified location.
"We have to make the government stand up and be accountable," Gravelle said. "We employ [politicians]. Even though they make a lot more money than we do, we employ them. We’re taxpayers and we have a right to [say] where our tax money is going. We have a right to keep these doctors here."
Gravelle was first diagnose with cervical cancer at age 26. She's since beat the disease on other occasions, but now finds her body "full of tumours."
Cancer Care Ontario currently funds approximately $800,000 worth of surgeries every year at Windsor Regional Hospital.
Hospital CEO David Musyj says if the hospital defies Cancer Care Ontario's request to stop performing thoracic cancer surgeries, that money would be lost.
He's working to develop a plan to transfer the thoracic surgery to London. But he's also trying to persuade Cancer Care Ontario and the Ontario Minister of Health to keep thoracic surgery in the region.
Gravelle says she would "have my operation in a barn" if it meant staying close to home.
"Never mind the person [with cancer], but [think of] what it does to the family. When someone you love is ill, you’re worried," she said.
Gravelle said having to go to London would force people to "choose between food and travel."
Cancer Care Ontario said the move is meant to offer better cancer care.
"Cancer Care Ontario aims to bring care closer to home whenever possible, but a priority is always placed on high-quality care," the organization said in a statement. "By shifting thoracic cancer surgeries to a high-volume thoracic surgery location (Level 1 centre) we can ensure patients have access to cancer services that meet the highest quality standards."
Gravelle will be in the lobby of Windsor Regional Hospital between noon and 3 p.m. Tuesday.
She will ask people to sign a book requesting the province step in and save thoracic surgeries in Windsor. She plans on giving the book to the hospital, which in turn she hopes will present it to the government.
"I may not have much of my body left," said Gravelle, whose body is riddled with tumours right now, "but I still have my mouth."