Allie Chisholm-Smith, co-founder of cancer support centre Enliven, said stories like May’s are all too common, and there isn’t much recourse a person can take aside from starting a GoFundMe page or by raising funds somewhere else.
Chisholm-Smith spoke about the other hidden costs of a cancer diagnosis, like the loss of time, the social impact, and the mental aspect of a cancer diagnosis.
“It’s an incredibly expensive process,” she said.
Chisholm-Smith said cancer can be isolating, and the mental aspects of dealing with both the illness and potentially dwindling finances could be debilitating.
She said under those conditions, “how are you supposed to be positive?”
May said she also uses CBD products to help with the pain, but she has to pay for them out of pocket. Chisholm-Smith noted that many physicians are recommending things like CBD oil in addition to normal medical treatment for their potential pain-relief benefits. But, as in May’s case, many of those complementary medicines are not covered by insurance.
Chisholm-Smith said in a lot of cases people may send test results or samples to clinics in the US for testing that isn’t available in Canada, which also is not typically covered by insurance and can get expensive.
This week May is set to have a radical hysterectomy and following that more will be known on the full extent of her cancer. If tests come back clear, there’s a six-week recovery period from the surgery and after that she can return to work.
To help make ends meet, May has been asking close friends to donate some money to help her through, and in exchange she’s giving out copies of her writing. She said she’s been reluctant to ask for funds more widely since she has issues with asking other people for money. But even through all the hardship, May said she’s trying to make the best of a bad situation.
“I have to heal from this experience,” she said. “I can’t pretend everything’s OK.”
STORY BEHIND THE STORY: We noticed May's posts on Facebook detailing her journey and struggles with cancer. Given that GoFundMe pages for illnesses like cancer are so common, we reached out to May to put a face to the lesser known aspects of a cancer diagnosis.