Operations back to normal at St James chemo centre

The content originally appeared on: News Americas Now

Black Immigrant Daily News

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

The St James Medical Complex. –

Chemotherapy services have resumed at the St James Medical Complex after a technical glitch which left patients unable to receive chemotherapy on Monday.

North West Regional Health Authority corporate communications manager Patsy Ramharacksingh said, “There was a technical issue which was resolved and all patients were rescheduled, and chemotherapy resumed today (Tuesday).”

The issue came to Newsday’s attention when Twitter user Juliet said her mother got up at 4 am to go to the centre for chemotherapy, only to be told at 11.40 am that there was none available.

“She’s currently on a wheelchair because of her chronic pain issues. She was told there was no-one to mix the chemo, essentially the pharmacy is on strike.”

Newsday spoke with Juliet on Tuesday, and she said her mother had not yet received a call to reschedule the appointment, although her next appointment was due in three weeks.

“My mother was diagnosed with endometrial cancer in 2018. It was treated, but came back in 2020. Since 2021 she’s been receiving treatment at St James with a drug called Avaxin. The drug is very expensive, around $12,000 a pop, and she has to get treatment every three weeks. It’s a blocking drug that keeps the cancer at bay.

She detailed what a day going for treatment is like, starting with getting up at 4 am to get a clinic number.

“I have to get up early to get a clinic card for her. She’s in severe chronic pain, so we try to get her there early so she can get out as early as possible. She woke me up on Monday to get the clinic card, she got number two. She got a friend to carry her there to St James, and she did her usual bloodwork before she got the Avaxin. At 9 am she had seen the doctor, everything was fine, but they said they didn’t know what was happening as normally by that time she’d be getting the chemo.”

Juliet said she keeps in contact with her mother via WhatsApp, and there was no indication of what was happening and why there was a delay.

“At 11.40 am, she said she overheard someone calling the pharmacy, and the pharmacist said there were no pharmacists to mix the chemotherapy drugs. And then they were saying there were no masks, they have to wear a certain mask to mix the chemo drugs and there weren’t sufficient masks.”

Juliet said the day was basically wasted, and now her mother would have to wait an additional three weeks to get chemotherapy.

“We’re worried she might go into withdrawal because she’s been doing this every three weeks since August 2021, so her body has gotten accustomed to the treatment, and now she has to go six weeks without the treatment.

“The last time something like this happened she did go into withdrawal which is very painful, and no one has called her to reschedule the treatment.

“What happens to people who have it worse than my mother when things like this happen? It’s already mentally taxing to fight cancer, and then to have the hospital fighting you too is unnecessary.”