Sask. cancer patient 'thrilled' by new date for surgery previously cancelled amid Alberta's COVID-19 surge

Sharon Durham was already on her way to Edmonton for cancer surgery earlier this week, when she found out the operation was being cancelled due to the COVID-19 situation in Alberta. But she got good news on Friday, when she learned the procedure had been rescheduled.

Sharon Durham's surgery in Edmonton was cancelled 1 day before procedure; has now been rescheduled

Sharon Durham will go for her fifth surgery to combat an aggressive cancer on Oct. 7. A procedure was scheduled in Alberta earlier this week, but was cancelled due to the strain of COVID-19 cases on the province's health-care system. (Submitted by Sharon Durham)

Sharon Durham was already on her way to Edmonton for cancer surgery earlier this week when she found out her operation was being cancelled due to the dire COVID-19 situation that is overwhelming Alberta's hospitals.

But the Wynyard, Sask., woman got some good news on Friday, when she was told her operation has been rescheduled for Oct. 7.

"I was just so thrilled, so excited. Just relieved. I could feel the stress just leave my body," Durham said. 

"With this [operation] put off, my cancer's just spreading even faster and deeper."

Durham has already undergone four surgeries for her aggressive cancer. A fifth operation was originally scheduled to take place last Wednesday.

The day before, though, she was told the surgery had to be cancelled because Alberta wasn't taking out-of-province patients, as the province's health-care system is stretched thin by the number of COVID-19 patients in hospital there.

Durham's surgery needs to be done by a specialist in Alberta, because it is out of the scope of treatment in Saskatchewan.

Durham said her surgery was rebooked thanks to her surgeon in Edmonton, Dr. Hadi Seikaly, who fought to make sure she could get the procedure.

'Not the only one going through this'

Despite the excitement of having her operation rebooked, Durham said she's still upset that people who are eligible for COVID-19 vaccines, but haven't been vaccinated, are taking up hospital beds.

"I'm angry and frustrated with people who think they have the right not to get vaccinated, because they are taking my rights away of getting my surgery," she said.

Saskatchewan's proof-of-vaccination policy, which came into effect Friday, provides the option to show negative COVID-19 test results rather than being fully vaccinated to access some establishments — an option Durham said she doesn't agree with.

Going to movies, concerts and football games should be a privilege reserved for the vaccinated, she said. 

Previous surgeries to combat the aggressive cancer have in the past resulted in removing portions from Sharon Durham's nose. (Submitted by Sharon Durham)

Durham said she's not just frustrated about her own situation — she feels for "exhausted" health-care professionals and for other patients who are in situations similar to hers. 

"I'm not the only one going through this. I'm not the only one stressed out. I'm not the only one who's getting lost in the cracks," she said. 

"It's time for people, especially people who are vaccinated, to speak out for ourselves. Because it seems like just the unvaccinated people are being heard."

Durham's surgery is expected to take nearly 20 hours, and she said if all goes well she'll spend around 10 days in hospital recovering. After that, she looks forward to recovering at home on her farm in Wynyard. 


Candice Lipski is a CBC reporter and associate producer based in Saskatoon. She holds a Master of Journalism degree from UBC. Follow her on Twitter @Candice_Lipski or send her a story idea at