I spent a week in Ontario helping my dad and stepmom as she struggles with a clinical/scan diagnosis of metastatic lung cancer. Lots of frustration with the health care system, which I worked in as a family doctor as recently as 2005. She had her CT scan in December (after symptoms since October) and didn't get any further tests until mid-January. Then the Cancer Clinic won't even make an appointment to see her until several weeks from now. Until then she doesn't exist, as far as care is concerned. I truly don't understand why every initial contact person in the teaching hospital (reception clerks and triage nurses, basically) had to be deliberately rude and hostile. I felt bad for my stepmom who was trying to be gracious to hospital staff, when they ignored her attempts at polite conversation and talked across her bed to each other in franglais (Canadian French), joking and kidding and totally ignoring her. The floor nurses didn't have any working English and again were completely dismissive of all attempts to communicate with them. Then there was the attempt by my stepmother's son-in-law to get her to sign over every dollar and asset she possesses - literally - while she was doped up on morphine. Nice. In spite of my attempts at intervention, he actually got her to sign over $38,000 to his personal investment account in the time it took me to answer the doorbell (this was prior to hospital admission). My father and stepmom can sue to get the money back but will lose about half to the lawyers. My 75 year old father, who has chronic pain from a neurological disease, is afraid to leave his wife's side, so is spending 14 - 18 hours/day with her in hospital. I stayed longer than I'd planned but couldn't stay forever, so I'm back in PA. The only good thing that happened was that I convinced the ER doctor to admit my stepmother. She isn't eating, hardly drinks so is very dehydrated, can't stand up without help, has terrible pain 24/7, has obvious metastatic cancer on scans, and had sudden evidence of brainstem lesions over a day or two. She can't swallow even water safely. But where she lives, they want to send her home without care. The system is designed to eliminate pressure by letting a certain number of people die before they can get care. Bah.