On Aug. 21, Ivan Cox, a Lake Cowichan resident for the past few years, was diagnosed with stage 3 lung cancer and has been told that he has six months to live.
In the weeks leading up to the diagnosis, Cox says he was noticing a shortness of breath and a lack of energy, but doctors thought he had pneumonia. It was only after he was admitted to Cowichan District Hospital in Duncan, put into an induced coma because he had blacked out, and was subsequently shipped to Royal Jubilee in Victoria, that doctors discovered a tumor in Cox’s lung the size of a baseball.
Cox has been through a round of radiation, but has been told that chemotherapy will do nothing to help him, and surgery is not an option because of where the tumor is located in his lung.
Cox was in hospital for three weeks and has since been able to come home, but he is bedridden. On top of this his wife, Jamie, suffers from diabetes and other health issues, and has been Cox’s only caregiver, and the family, including a 15-year-old son, have been living in a trailer on Johel Road.
The family is struggling financially, and though they were able to move this past weekend to a small house in Duncan situated close to the hospital, they are having trouble putting food on the table, paying their bills, and making sure that Cox has the extra medical paraphernalia he needs to be comfortable.
The move also means that they will need furniture as many of their items may have become mould infected.
They don’t know what else to do, but turn to the public for help.
“I’m also trying to pay off our bills before Ivan dies so that there are no leftover bills,” said Jamie.
“We have to make a choice,” said Cox. “It’s either groceries or medical supplies. I have to choose our son, I can’t just choose me all the time.”
Though his oxygen and medication are covered through B.C. Palliative Care Benefits, there are other items that Cox desperately needs to keep comfortable. Things like Breathe Right strips to keep his nasal passages open at night (the hardest time of any 24 hour period for him), Boost meal replacement because he finds it difficult eating solids, creams and gels for chapped and sore skin due to the oxygen, among other items.
Jamie says that she has been stretched thin by the fact that she has been Cox’s only caregiver and would even accept help from someone willing to help bring groceries home from the store.
“He was sent home to be monitored, not for me to be pulling my hair out. Now I have a staph infection and my kidneys are not functioning properly,” said Jamie, adding that she has been told by doctors that the infection is probably due to the amount of stress she is under.
Cox was supposed to be receiving VIHA Home and Community Care support, but the couple says that they have not even been contacted by phone by workers since he arrived home. They say they were told that until they moved to a new location they would not receive home support, but they are puzzled by the lack of help to make the move and the lack of contact by phone in the meantime. The manager for the program out of Duncan was not able to answer these questions by press time.
Cox says that once they are moved he will feel like he can do some healing.
“I will be physically doing better and mentally doing better. I’ll be in a clean, safe environment and I can do better again. I’ve gotta be positive.”
The couple say they are grateful to Jamie’s family, friends like Trina Horne—who has been concerned about the couple and contacted the Gazette, and their neighbours Lorna and Sam for all they have done, but they have no-one to coordinate a fundraising event that might help to bring in much needed funds and furniture in their time of need.
They have asked that anyone who has the ability to donate funds or furniture, or if there is someone out there who would take on the role of being a fundraising coordinator, to please call Jamie on her cell at 250-510-1816.