Ont. man forced to pay $100K for cancer treatment not covered by province
Published Sunday, December 2, 2018 11:50AM EST
Last Updated Sunday, December 2, 2018 5:54PM EST
Ontario bartender Mario Diotte has been forced to pay over $100,000 for an experimental treatment in the U.S. for his rare form of cancer that isn’t covered by Ontario’s health-care plan.
The 28 year old’s liver cancer is so rare that, each year, it's only diagnosed 200 times in the entire world.
“It’s been a big toll on our family and unfortunately the only treatment plan for me is in New York,” he told CTV News Channel on Sunday. “The type of cancer I have doesn’t respond well to radiation, chemotherapy or surgery.”
The whole ordeal started on Sept. 27 when Diotte felt extreme stomach pains which he initially blamed on an ulcer or another stomach issue. He was later diagnosed with fibrolamellar-carcinoma.
“Unfortunately, there isn’t any funding from the government,” he said. “From what I understand, there are people in the same situation as I am and I just want to spread the word to let people know that unfortunately, there are holes in the system.”
The bartender said the immunotherapy he needs is a type of biological therapy which helps the immune system fight cancers. The clinical treatment, which is being offered in New York, costs upwards of $100,000.
“It’s nobody’s fault … it’s just unfortunate that myself and other people have to go through it,” he said, adding he also has to pay for his travel and accommodations on top of his medical bills. “It really hurt our family as a whole.”
Helping him to find the money are his friends and co-workers, Liam DeBoer and Rob Ratz, who set up a GoFundMe page. As of Sunday morning, they’ve raised $25,000 of the total $100,000 needed.
“We didn’t expect the turnout to be this huge but friends, family and people that we don’t know have been donating and it’s been amazing” he said. “It really restores my faith in humanity to know that a lot of people reached out to show the love that I didn’t know was out there.”
According to the GoFundMe page, Diotte will be getting the costly experimental treatment by doctors at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York.
His friends DeBoer and Ratz, who work with Diotte in La Carnita restaurant in Toronto, write that in February they plan on running in the Run Oak Island Marathon in North Carolina to help raise more money.
“Every dollar helps and 100 per cent of proceeds will go towards Mario,” they wrote.
The lack of funding for the treatments of rare cancers in Canada is an ongoing issue.
Just a few days ago, CTV News covered the story of Amanda Gould’s trip to Germany to undergo regional chemotherapy for the tumour in her lungs, a procedure that will cost her around $200,000.
If it was offered in Canada it would have cost $130,000 because there would be no currency exchange or need for an extended hospital stay. She also started a GoFundMe page to help raise funds.
Cancer is the leading cause of death in Canada, responsible for 30 per cent of all deaths every year, according to the Canadian Cancer Society.