The following is a transcription of an interview by Miriam O’Callaghan with Susie Long, a terminally ill patient, on last Thursday’s Prime Time. There is no need for any comment.
Earlier this year a really courageous woman went public about her experiences in the health system when she became terminally ill with cancer because, as a public patient, she had to wait seven months before getting the necessary tests.
She’s now in our Lady’s Hospice in Dublin
Susie, how are you at this moment?
I’m feeling ok, I’ve been told I don’t have that much time left but I plan on proving them wrong a bit. I don’t want to be given a time and stick to it, I want to keep going because I have too many things and people that I want to engage with.
Do you still believe that the delay originally between the time you went to your own GP and the time when you finally got the colonoscopy did probably damage your chances of survival?
Well, the waiting period was seven months and seven months is a long time with cancer. I can’t prove it but I believe it, yes. I do believe it, because it had only just spread to my lungs, you know there are only a couple of spots on my lungs so it wasn’t that the cancer had completely invaded my body by that time, so yes, I believe the seven months was a disaster.
Do you feel in a sense the Irish health system let you down?
Yes, I do, I do. The fact that if I had VHI or any of the other private medical insurances, if I had them I would have been seen immediately and my chances of survival would have been better. The fact that there’s inequality built into the system means that I’m terminally ill. I believe that people should be seen on the basis of how ill they are, of their symptoms, not on how much money they have.
I know you think it’s important about the Kilkenny day centre that’s going to be set up, tell me about that and also there are other people who would argue there’s no point in having these smaller centres, you actually need these big centres of excellence if we’re ever going to treat cancer properly in Ireland.
People need hospitals in their communities, they don’t need to trek across the country when they’re ill to get the help that they need. This new centre will have 24 beds, it’ll be state of the art and it will cut down on the waiting lists because seven months is too long to wait for a colonoscopy when you’re bleeding from your rectum, when you’re bowl movements change rapidly. They tell you the symptoms and they tell you to hurry up and get seen but then they put you on a waiting list to get the diagnosis which doesn’t make sense but with this new unit hopefully that will put an end to it.
I sit before you and you’re incredibly brave and everybody worries about getting cancer and most Irish families have been touched by it. What is it like to have cancer, how do you cope with it?
You just take one day at a time. I wake up and I’m glad that I’m here, there’s a lot of good things to live for so every day that I have to spend with my husband and my children makes it worth it. It makes whatever you have to put up with cancer, you know there’s pain and it’s rotten, it’s horrible but I’m glad every morning I wake up it’s one more day I can spend with my family.
Are you frightened of what lies ahead or do you have great faith?
I’m not religious, no. I’m confident that I’ll have a comfortable death in the hospice here; they look after people very well. I want it to be as far away as possible but I’m confident I’ll be well looked after while I’m here.
If you had one message for the Irish health service and those who run it what might it be?
The health service should be for everyone equally, and that’s it. Everyone is entitled to a good health service; it shouldn’t depend on where you live or how much money you have in your back pocket. The health service is paid for by our tax money and so therefore we’re entitled to every service available that we need.
6 thoughts on “Corruption kills”
For the symptoms she describes a seven month wait seems almost unbelievable.
I wish to portray my condolences to the family and friends of Susie Long. I am a bereavement counsellor and I draw inspiration from Susie. Even though I never met her, she is one of those rare people who are brought to this earth to make an impact.
Thank you Susie. R.I.P.
I listened to the first interview Susie gave to Joe Duffy. My words will never ease the pain for Susie’s family and friends. What happened in relation to the delay is nothing short of a total sham. Bertie and Mary, you should be ashamed of yourselves. God speed Susie, God speed.
I was amazed to read the account of this young mothers misfortune at the hands of the health system.I hope her stand for what is right will help change the way people in similar circumstances are treated in the future.In a country of such incredible wealth it is a terrible shame that inequality is alive and well.
wonder if is possible to find out the rate of deaths of Medical Card holders, vs. private insurance patients? You’d first have to know the percentage of private vs. public in the population as a whole, and compare that to the rate of deaths for specific illnesses. For example, two people have a stroke, who has a better chance of living, the public patient or the private patient? My guess is, two tiered system does not facilitate equal health care for all.
I languish in bed with a debilitating decease (Chronic Lyme which I contracted in Ireland) for which I have not had treatment for over a year. I am waiting for a bed. If I had been treated when the disease was acute, I would not have been ill for over three years now.
Comments are closed.