Flying to India for Cancer Treatment

From the Record, September 2007:

A few weeks ago, Walkerton-area beef farmer Dave Cooke was intense, almost angry, and rarely laughed.

His 49-year-old wife, Catherine, was in India getting chemotherapy for advanced lung cancer. She travelled overseas because doctors here said she would not likely survive, and the wait to see specialists was long.

Today, Dave is relaxed and laughs often. Catherine is home after five months in India and clear of cancer symptoms.

The couple figure Catherine’s trip and treatment cost them $60,000 but Dave is almost floating with relief and joy. He beams in Catherine’s presence, moving close to his wife for a fond touch.

“We’re a great team,” Catherine says.

Catherine has praise for another team as well — the doctors and nurses who treated her at the Apollo Hospital in Chennai, India.

“They were some of the most incredible doctors,” she said.

The Cookes learned about Surgical Tourism Canada, the Apollo group hospitals and health care available in India through television and Internet research.

There were no promises of a miracle cure in India. Catherine was told she had a 40 per cent chance of living for a year.

“I thought ‘Am I a dumb blond?’ ” she recalls. “I came halfway around the world for a 40-per-cent chance?” She wondered briefly if she was “a sucker” by signing up for out-of-country treatment.

But doctors in India were willing to try a different formula of chemotherapy than Ontario doctors advocated. They used positron emission tomography imaging to track the cancer and assess treatment — a technology Catherine was told she didn’t qualify for at home.

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