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Lisa Priest took your questions

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Lisa Priest: Thank you, Emma, for your very kind words. PET scanners will be used quite extensively in Quebec starting early next year; they already allow cancer patients the broadest access to them. Many other provinces use them as well, including British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba and now New Brunswick. Ontario has been slower than much of the world to embrace this technology. It is really up to the Ontario government to allow them to be used more broadly. I understand they are waiting until the clinical trials wrap up on them before expanding their use. And that could take some time.

Janet Rowe, Duncan: My friend moved to Greece six years ago, after being born and having resided in B.C. for over 40 years. She had breast cancer before she left. She returned one month ago, and was diagnosed with bone cancer. She has no medical, and was told that she has to pay cash upfront for everything. Her cancer is quite serious, and she needs to start treatment right away. BC Medical has said that they will cover her as of January 1, 2007, but that is not helping any in the coverage of her treatments now. The double standard is what annoys me - if she had flown in to Alberta, she would have been covered right away, and yet in B.C., where she was born and raised, and where she contributed to medical and taxes for over 40 years, she has to wait for treatment. All Canadians should be treated the same, regardless of what province they reside. I suspect that if she had medical coverage, there would have been a lot more tests/scan/X-rays than what was ordered. Is she getting the best medical care possible? I doubt it.

Lisa Priest: I'm sorry to hear about the problems your friend is having. It sounds as if your friend requires three-month residency before her public medical coverage kicks in, which is what many provinces do, not just British Columbia. Of course, this does not help her problem, which is being faced with large bills for medical care and costly diagnostic tests she will require.

Roop Misir, Toronto: Do you think that "environmental" (i.e. not bacterial) diseases like cancer will be the new age scourges that will redefine the population of the "developed" world?

Lisa Priest: Hello Roop, With our aging population, there is no question that we will see more cases of cancer, which is why, more than ever, we need to get on top of this disease. We need to ensure that people are appropriately screened, promptly diagnosed and treated.

Seana O'Neill, Haliburton: In 2003 I created a program called Cottage Dreams, a program that offers recent cancer survivors and their families a week at a donated, private cottage, as a way to offer support as they collectively move from cancer patient to cancer survivor. Inexperienced and naive at the time, I thought we would place a several families a year and that would be wonderful. We are in our fourth year and to date we have offered a cottage visit to over 210 cancer survivors but if we had the financial resources we could place hundreds of families annually. At this time there is little if any government funding for the journey that begins when the doctor says you are cured, now go and resume life. This is where Cottage Dreams enters to allow time together to reconnect and start rebuilding in a positive atmosphere with those who have been there since the diagnosis. What a shame it is that Canada does not yet have a Lance Armstrong, who is an incredible advocate for survivorship. We at Cottage Dreams will continue to fight for every dollar we raise because we know that kids jumping off a dock, reading by the lake and playing monopoly at the dining room table are memorable at the best of times but they are especially important after the worst of times.

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