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UPDATE: Area woman dying of cancer gets long-awaited MRI

'Maybe the medical system isn’t working but there are a lot of people out there that are good-hearted and generous,' says Elaine Foley following outpouring of support from strangers
Elaine and Mike Foley in their home in Wasaga Beach. Elaine received a cancer diagnosis this past August and given two years to live, and was on the wait list for an MRI on her spine to improve her quality of life.

Mike and Elaine Foley are very appreciative of the kindness of strangers, a gratitude they felt keenly in difficult times. 

Elaine Foley shared her story about a fatal cancer diagnosis and her quest to have an unrelated back injury repaired so she could live her remaining years without the agony of debilitating back pain. The MRI she needed prior to surgery came with such a long wait list, it made it unlikely Elaine would live long enough for the scan and surgery. 

Her story struck a chord and emails containing offers of help have flooded in. 

Some readers offered words of encouragement. Some included home phone numbers in case Foley just wanted to talk. Others offered their lived experience, and gave advice on different hospitals and clinics across Ontario that may have MRI appointments sooner than local hospitals.

“It was really great. It made me realize that maybe the medical system isn’t working but there are a lot of people out there that are good-hearted and generous,” said Elaine.

One reader said she had an appointment booked for an MRI in March, and offered to give Foley her appointment.

“It made me a little emotional. I recognized how much that lady had to go through to get that appointment. She had to wait. For her to offer us her place in line was one of the kindest things I could possibly imagine,” said Elaine’s husband Mike.

Foley managed to get an appointment for an MRI last week at private clinic called Greater Niagara Medical Imaging in Mississauga, and had the test done. While the clinic is privately owned, they take OHIP so the Foleys did not have to pay out-of-pocket for the test.

It's a step closer to surgery, but not a guarantee. If she can get a referral for surgery, she's up against a different set of provincial wait times. 

Elaine says she’s been told it could be upwards of a 13-month wait for her to get in for surgery. The closest hospital that does such surgeries is the Cortellucci Vaughan Hospital.

According to provincial data, the wait time from getting a referral to see a first clinician for a spinal surgery is 126 days for priority-4 patients, 90 days for priority-3 patients and 47 days for priority-2 patients. Within this wait category, 73 per cent of patients are treated within the target time.

The time from decision to actual spinal surgery is 164 days for priority-4 patients, 82 days for priority-3 patients and 85 days for priority-2 patients. Within this wait category, 67 per cent of patients are treated within the target time.

“Now, it’s a matter of, we have no idea how long the referral is going to take,” said Mike.

At this point, the Foleys say they feel hopeful.

“I can maybe see a light at the end of the tunnel. I’m hoping a doctor reads my story and jumps on it,” said Elaine. “There are so many kind people out there. I’m hoping there’s a kind doctor. My clock is ticking.”


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Jessica Owen

About the Author: Jessica Owen

Jessica Owen is an experienced journalist working for Village Media since 2018, primarily covering Collingwood and education.
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