British Columbia

Brain cancer patient turned away from Kamloops hospital to be remembered with a room in his name

When Darrin Yusishen first went to the emergency room in 2017 with a severe migraine, he was sent away because the hospital was over-capacity with people who had been evacuated from Williams Lake due to wildfires. He was later diagnosed with brain cancer.

Darrin Yusishen went to emergency with a migraine in 2017; he died the next year

Yusishen left behind his wife and two kids when he died of brain cancer on January 23, 2018. (Courtney Dickson/CBC)

The memory of former Kamloops resident, Darrin Yusishen, who died in 2018 from an aggressive form of brain cancer, was honoured Tuesday with an announcement that a room in the new patient care tower at the Royal Inland hospital will be named after him.

His sister Crystal Maloney became an advocate for better patient care since Yusishen's death because of his treatment.

"Right from his first hospital visit, it was difficult because he was sent home," said Maloney.

When Yusishen first went to the emergency room in 2017 with a severe migraine, he was sent away because the hospital was over capacity with people who had been evacuated from Williams Lake, B.C., due to wildfires.

'There are people that are dying in rooms [with] curtains [with] three other people in the room. That's not a dignified death,' said Maloney. (Courtney Dickson/CBC)

"We had hoped that his pain would have been taken more seriously," said Maloney. "But we also understand that the system was beyond over capacity and these are the kinds of things that happen when hospitals are over capacity and this is exactly why change needs to occur."

Shortly afterward, Yusishen came back to the hospital and was diagnosed with glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer, followed by an inoperable brain tumour. He died at the age of 40 on January 23, 2018.

'Difficult experience,' says minister

Health Minister Adrian Dix was at the hospital in the southern Interior city to make the announcement about the room dedication. He also acknowledged the difficulties Yusishen faced when he came to the hospital.

"Darrin received some extraordinary care here from very caring care providers who speak of him so well, but there were challenges, too," said Dix.

"The family, during the early days of diagnosis had to wait a long time in the emergency room and it was a difficult experience, an experience that turned Crystal into an advocate."

Health Minister Adrian Dix said the experience of Yusishen and his family with delays during the early days of his diagnosis 'was profoundly, profoundly difficult.' (Courtney Dickson/CBC)

The minister added that changes at the Kamloops hospital should mean the situation won't be repeated."

Dying with dignity

Maloney said they felt like Yusishen, who was also a husband and father, didn't have an appropriate place to die because the hospital was so overcrowded when he was a patient.

"Since I've been advocating for Darrin so many people have contacted me with their stories and it's heartbreaking," she said.

"There are people that are dying in rooms [with] curtains [with] three other people in the room. That's not a dignified death. People that are terminal deserve our utmost compassion, our utmost care. Dignity and respect [are] paramount."

Having the room named after her brother "softens the experience a little bit," she added.

She hopes that there continues to be better communication and connection between patients, families and the hospitals. 

"It's the patients and families that know the insides, the workings of these hospitals and how they are made to feel," said Maloney.

The room named after Yusishen will be selected by his family when the new patient care tower opens in 2022.

With files from Courtney Dickson and Radio West


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