Cuts force Ont. family to pay for 6-year-old cancer patient's tube feed supplement
The family of a six-year-old girl with cancer says it must pay hundreds of dollars each week for her nutrition supplements following the Ontario government’s cuts to the provincial youth pharmacare program.
Abigayle Lobsinger of Waterloo, Ont. is battling Stage 4 neuroblastoma, an aggressive form of cancer typically found in the adrenal glands. It is the third most-common form of cancer in children under the age of five.
- For more on this story, visit CTV Kitchener
Abigayle's father, Kevin Lobsinger said his daughter has been incredibly strong through the whole ordeal. She was first diagnosed with the condition at age three, but was told there were no more signs of cancer in 2017. The disease then returned around Christmas.
“There (were) no tears from her,” he told CTV Kitchener. “The only thing she kept saying was: 'Mama, I'll be brave.'”
Abigayle will be admitted at Sick Kids Hospital for a new round of treatment on May 8. There is no timeline for her release.
“I want to see Abigayle live a full life,” Lobsinger said. “I want to watch her get married.”
Abigayle uses a feeding tube to help maintain her weight and provide her with the necessary nutrition, but since the changes to the OHIP+ program, her family has been forced to cover the costs for the supplements -- at $437 per week, not including the out-of-town travel for treatment.
On April 1, the Progressive Conservative government changed OHIP+, which was introduced by the previous Liberal government, to no longer offer free prescriptions to those under the age of 25 if they were also covered under a private plan.
Lobsinger said his family does have a private plan, but it does not cover the supplements.
NDP MPP Catherine Fife, who represents the Waterloo riding, brought the family’s story to attention last week when she slammed the provincial government for the changes to the health-care system.
“The change means Abigayle's parents are now forced to pay hundreds of dollars a week for the nutrition she requires to fight cancer,” Fife wrote in a Facebook post.“This government needs to get their priorities straight and support kids like Abigayle.”
Ontario’s Ministry of Health has not responded to CTV Kitchener's request for comment.
To help cover the added costs, Lobsinger’s co-workers at the City of Waterloo have been stepping up with fundraisers. Most recently, they hosted a family skate day where the money was split between the family and Ronald McDonald House.
“A total was raised of $11,000, which we were able to give the family a percentage of that,” said one of Kevin’s co-workers, Anne Donnelly.
There is also an online fundraising page designed to help the family, which has raised more than $30,000 in the past three years.