Archive for the ‘Your Story’ Category

I was late diagnosed with breast cancer & since my husband is American he insisted I go to the best- the Mayo Clinic. He was off in that it far exceeded my medical expectations, noting I have a nursing background. Within a day they announced that 3 tumours were missed! I elected to have my care in the USA. It was not cheap but if I had to wait any longer I would have died. Living is priceless.

So when MyCare product was launched in Canada allowing access to the Mayo I signed on. Fast forward the only connection is the Mayo name. There has been no communication written and a few phone calls by a nurse which took months, NOT days and weeks as advertised. Even worse there has been no support- so I have decided why throw good money out the window and just dump it and warn others.

For anyone considering buying this product- stay away because when you are sick there is nothing worse than false advertisements and promises to weaken ones health further. Maybe I should consider legal punitive damages but for the time letting consumers know this product is flawed. I suggest opening a separate account for emergencies as well they have e-consult if your physician is willing to consult with one of their physicians, at no cost. My friend who was considering going had her doctor make that call.

Would you believe this product?

Would you believe this product?


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After experiencing SARS in North America and the fear that it brought not only to the medical community. But to ordinary citizens who had no idea of how it was spread and how to protect themselves. This was evident with the first responders of that deadly pandemic of the doctors and nurses who lost their lives.

BBC News Protective Gear

BBC News Protective Gear

I am not sure who are the leaders who are monitoring Ebola and how countries need to work together to contain the international boundaries. Otherwise, as we see in the news cases in Brazil, Spain and other countries will join in that list in a short time. Why do governments wait too late to set up check points at airports?

As a nurse I ask if hospitals are prepared to handle Ebola cases. The first entry is through the emergency and this is where protocol should be established. The update on BBC shows little is known and communicated and that the Ebola virus needs caution in protective gear with set gear up and disinfection. It is hoped ER are set up with protocols to separate from the regular patients otherwise as during SARS crisis there is no entry for emergency care.

Perhaps, Dr Todd Warden’s redesigning ERs need to meets the needs and be efficient. Hopefully, we would have learned from the last time and save more lives. Without a cure this could see a shutdown in our society on all fronts.

Lets be open for change and be prepared instead of being reactive!

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ImageIt has been a pet peeve of mine for a number of years of the terrible emergency care mostly due to my personal experience of a cancer patient and observing the long waits. This prompted me to sponsor a symposium on emergency care based on process design with the people who are the best with Terri Zborowski and team at  Ellerbe Becket AECOM and Dr Todd Warden, a leading ER specialist from the US who amazing with his expertise brings the wait time down to 9 min.

What was there not to be impressed? We had eight Ontario hospitals participate and some who could not attend attend due to timing conflicts received a package. The bittersweet irony was that Ontario Long Term Care called and stated great idea but because it is free we just “don’t know what to do”. Despite the setback I continued to contact physicians across Canada and sent the info package.

Well, something must have worked because my wait time in the Toronto General Hospital or better known as TGH was only 30 mins and I was sent directly to a room. The waiting room was even clean and I noted it was divided into two sections of triage those registered and those waiting to be registered.

I was pleased with the prompt care, diagnosis and treatment. The staff did not appear hurried although one nurse thought I was a renal transplant without checking my ID band and the ER physician, Dr Salmon who was professional was running out the door when I tried to ask a question. This is one reason why I like to pay directly for care at the Mayo because then there is more of a customer patient service. This caused some problems when the pharmacist had to call back the doctor to clarify a medication as it was contraindicated as an allergy on my alert. I hate clogging up the system.

I had to chuckle when I heard a nurse in the next room telling the patient  to order pan medication because she is paying for it anyway through OHIP- it is free. So don’t hold back.

I was impressed when I left the ER well under 8 hours with my prescription in hand to see a room off to one side with big words, “Rapid Assessment” and that helped eased the clogging with triage. I am sure this was part of our input from the symposium as our diagrams clearly indicate this process, although I never knew until I was again, the patient who is the real test.

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One thing that amazes me is that the face of cancer is getting younger.
No longer is the patient an elderly senior but youth.

I asked myself someone who faces a terminal illness at the beginning of their life must feel fear and how do they cope. They are not at the end of their life after having a career and raising a family but at the beginning.

I had the honour of meeting such a young man in his early twenties quite by accident, as I took some time browsing at Italian custom furniture. Life just happens unexpectedly, when we connect with someone.

I wanted to share his story to help others his age but also to put a younger face on cancer.

As well knowledge is power and prostate cancer is not just an older person’s cancer.
Here is Justin’s story

* What is your diagnosis age?

Formative Stages of Prostate Cancer; Age 20.

*Is it unusual for someone your age to be diagnosed with this illness?


*Was there any family history?

Yes, My Grandfather battled it for 10 years and it was a leading contributor to his passing.

*How did your family react to the diagnosis?

Family and friends were really frightened by it, My grandfather had passed away only 2 years earlier, this diagnosis was too familiar.

*Were your peers open to discussing your diagnosis given this is uncommon in your age group.

I stayed pretty quiet about the whole diagnosis, close friends knew, and they were very sensitive to it, maybe too sensitive. They looked at me differently as if I had a ticking time bomb over my head.

*Did your outlook on life change?

Absolutely; I wanted to enjoy every moment to its fullest, not so much in a fear of sickness/death, but for the enjoyment of life. I chose to believe that this would not conquer me, and that was the outlook I maintained throughout my whole treatment.

*What was the best thing you did for yourself?

Keep my life normal – I always maintained a full schedule and stayed connected with work, friends and family. When I was weaker, I caught up on years of missed TV, Movies and reading; I thoroughly enjoyed this!

*What was the best thing someone else did for you?

I asked my best friend to never treat me any different (which can be a tall order to ask someone who cares about you!) If something was wrong, I would tell them. This helped me to maintain my own psyche.

*Did you find the medical information given to you helpful in explaining what was happening?

Yes and No; For the most part I had to investigate meanings and diagnoses further than the information I was provided; But my doctors also helped me to understand what I was going through by responding to emails and calls as needed.

*Who do you feel in the medical profession ie hospital, clerk, doctor, nurse,…. gave you the most support?

It was the Nurses who were most accessible and often worked with me through treatments, Doctors were also fairly supportive.

*Do you feel your treatment was timely with no delays?

It took about 14 months to really confirm the presence of Cancerous cells, treatment happened about 6 months after; it lasted for another 6.

*What advice would you give someone your own age?

Don’t Fear anything. Life happens to everyone, be thankful for what you have and keep living the way you did before  diagnosis. A positive outlook will keep you sane for the roller coaster that is cancer treatment.


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Everyone pays taxes for universal healthcare. Canadians need to realize this does not exist not just for refugees but every Canadian. Make your vote count.

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Rebecca Difilippo, Publisher

When did you launched moods Magazine and what was the response at the
time and present?

Moods was launched Oct 1, 2003 and the response was extremely positive. Many people who found the magazine in their doctor’s office or at Chapters/Indigo called to inquire about subscribing.

Do you feel there appears to be more “acceptance of mental illness”?
I believe that with all the media coverage about mental health over the past 5 years or so, people are more aware of the mental illness and a little bit more knowledgeable. However, many people I speak with are still concerned about the stigma attached to mental illness.

Any insights on why?
Mental Illness has been a taboo topic for so many years as it is so misunderstood. Lack of knowledge is one of the greatest causes of fear (fear of anything) and there is still a huge fear about mental illness. Many people are misinformed, not only about what mental illness is, but also what the causes, symptoms and treatments are.

All too often, media sensationalizes horrific crimes involving mental illness and this emphasis often leads people to believe that all people with mental illness are violent and dangerous. This however is far from the truth. Most people living with mental illness are non violent and often live fairly normal lives.

Do you feel celebrities coming out of the closet has changed the face
of mental illness?
Yes, most definitely! When celebrities, people who are successful and extremely respected, speak out then, others listen and learn from their stories. 

What is your story and why are you passionate about the magazine.
About 15 years ago I knew nothing about depression. I thought the word depression simply meant that you were sad. I didn’t know it was an illness. I got depressed slowly over a seven year period after my husband had a fall leaving him with a serious head injury causing memory loss, a personality change, seizures, loss of hearing in one ear and leaving him legally blind. He had grand mal seizures, two heart attacks, a quadruple bypass, cancer (lymphoma), kidney failure and battled many other illnesses. He finally passed away in 2001, a time when I was also running a business with about 17 employees and taking care of our 12-year old daughter. Throughout this entire time I did not recognize the symptoms and behaviours of depression, so I did not seek help. When my husband passed away I crashed. I became so ill that I let my business go and I attended the hospital as an outpatient for almost 11 months. I filed for personal bankruptcy and experienced so many unnecessary losses. If only I had known what depression was, I could have sought help in the early stages. But I didn’t. So, in an effort to assist others through education and preventative measures, I founded Moods magazine.
It is noted on your site that in that 70% of people living with mental
illness are in the workforce.
Can you comment on whether there is enough being done in terms of
education and employer support to facilitate recovery and successful
There is still much work to be done in the workplace regarding mental illness at work. Many workplaces are making great efforts to educate their management and staff about mental health and many are providing tools and resources to their staff. Many organizations are still without the knowledge they require to help prevent or deal with mental health conditions. Return-to-work programs should be discussed with an employees’s support team, which may consist of the individual’s doctor/specialist, therapist, spouse and HR representative or manager. It may be different for each situation. The more support and understanding there is, the better the chances of a successful return-to-work.
Do you feel employees need to disclose or be open about their condition?
I believe that if an employee has a good relationship with their manager or HR staff and their workplace supports mental illness, then disclosure can be very beneficial. An organization cannot assist if they are not aware of special needs. Some organizations are still not equipped to deal with mental health concerns. It depends a great deal on the organization, as well as the individual’s comfort level.
Do you feel that focusing on restrictions and limitations is the best
way to approach rtw?
I believe the focus should be on what can be accomplished; a person’s strengths and capabilities as opposed to their limitations — that one should always emphasize and work with the positive.
What are the most significant changes you have witnessed in mental health today?
Although there is still a great stigma attached to mental illness, more people than ever are aware of it to some degree even if they are not fully educated. More celebrities are speaking out about their experiences in an effort to bring hope to those in need. I think many more people are able to accept someone who has gone through mental illness, however there is still much work to be done.
What is the best advice you can give to someone who has mental illness?
Seek help! The sooner one is diagnosed, the sooner the recovery process can start. Early detection and treatment is the key to full recovery.
Speak to your family doctor and speak to family members and friends you can trust and who will be positive and supportive towards you. Be positive as much as you can and know that there will always be a better day. Never give up hope! If the treatment you are following does not work, try, try again. Every person’s makeup/chemistry is different and each illness is different. What works for one person will not necessarily work for another. Researchers have made great headway with medications and talk therapy. I strongly recommend a combination of both medication and talk therapy if one’s illness is severe. Sometimes talk therapy alone is all that is needed though. Sometimes removing triggers from one’s life, reducing stress and living a more healthier lifestyle is all it takes. Eating good nutritious food regularly each day and getting enough sleep is also very important. A combination of all of the above are important.
What is the best advice you can give to a relative or parent who is
struggling with a close relative who has been diagnosed?
Listen. Validate! Even if you don’t understand what your loved one is going through, they need to know that you are there to support them and want to help. Just listen and be there for them. Validate what they are struggling with and feeling even if you don’t understand!
What are the biggest challenges for mental illness in this decade?
I personally feel that our society today encourages a multi-tasking, busy, stressful lifestyle that is not very healthy. Too many people do not have time to share a happy and fulfilling life with family and friends because of the demands from work and impossible expectations of society in general — the unending connections to work and friends. We all need to simplify our lives a bit and recognize that fulfillment can be found in some of the more simple things.

We are also lacking enough professional support, especially talk therapists who are covered by government. We need more immediate support available to people before crisis sets in–especially with more and more people working and living longer. Prevention needs to be emphasized and programs implemented to assist people in the early stages.

Read Rebecca’s Story 2012

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There is all this fuss concerning that a 2 tier medical system would bankrupt us in The Globe and Mail.

It already exists and several cases I know that individuals left because the wait was too long. Including a woman who had a 30 + tumour removed, had chemo back in Canada and returned to work. Unfortunately when I spoke with Sylvia DeVries it was too late because she suspected she had a recurrence and died after a courageous battle. These Canadians want to get on with their lives but too long a wait means a death sentence. If  Sylvia was treated sooner she would have lived longer for her family- she talked about the support from her daughters, husband and community. Also, she was never a drain on the system as she went back to work.

It is not just about a 2 tier system, if we did not need one it would not exist. It is that simple.

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