Manitoba

'He still wants to fight': After months-long wait for biopsy, Winnipeg man gets confirmation he has cancer

George Myer, 81, was told in September he likely had lung cancer. But he didn't get a biopsy until Jan. 11, sparking concern from his family and Manitoba politicians.

81-year-old George Myer, who was told in September he likely had cancer, is now very unwell, says daughter

George Myer, 81, was told in September he likely had lung cancer. A biopsy has now confirmed that. (Submitted by Manitoba Liberal Party)

A Winnipeg man who waited months for a biopsy now has confirmation that he has cancer. 

George Myer, 81, was told in September he likely had lung cancer. But he didn't get a biopsy until Jan. 11, sparking concern from Manitoba politicians

His daughter Kathryn Braun, a nurse practitioner, says the biopsy revealed the lung cancer is small-cell, which is more aggressive but also highly responsive to chemotherapy.

"Knowing that it could be responsive to chemotherapy — had he had that biopsy back in September when they first determined this lesion in the lung, chemotherapy could have been started early," she said. "And he could have had more time." 

Braun says her father's condition has deteriorated. He's had two seizures, and he's on oxygen and having difficulty breathing, she says. He sleeps a lot and doesn't eat much.

Kathryn Braun says the family is still waiting to develop a treatment plan, but she's not sure if chemotherapy is still an option, given how sick her father is. (Gary Solilak/CBC)

A spokesperson for the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority said in an email to CBC that while they can't discuss particulars of a person's medical condition, a review into Myer's care is ongoing.

"Our focus remains on providing Mr. Myer with expert, compassionate care. We do empathize with his family, and have been working with them to review the care that Mr. Myer has been receiving," the spokesperson said.

"It is always the goal of our physicians and staff to make health-care decisions based on medical evidence, clinical best practice and professional standards, and part of any review process, when concerns are raised, is to determine whether that occurred and to identify areas for potential improvement."

A spokesperson from the province was also barred from discussing a patient's file, but said, "our thoughts are with Mr. Myer and his family at this time."

'It's hard to watch him suffer'

The family is still waiting to develop a treatment plan, but Braun's not sure if chemotherapy remains on the table, given how sick her father is. 

"Two days ago my dad said the end is near, and he doesn't know if he can fight anymore, because his breathing was so bad — but that improved over the next couple days," she said.

"But it's hard to watch him suffer. It really is."

Still, she says, he's not giving up.

"Well, he still wants to fight, given the tools. He says, 'As long as you give me the tools, I'll continue to fight.'"

Braun says her family's story shows that people need to have advocates in the health-care system. In addition to being a nurse practitioner, she's lost other family members to cancer, so she has been able to help. 

"I just worry about all the people that are going to fall through the cracks," Braun said. "I know there's so many people out there that don't have anybody to do that for them and I worry."

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