In September 2023, a Weyburn woman was confronted with an unwelcome discovery, a lump on her breast. Taking the necessary action, she promptly scheduled an appointment with a general practitioner, who swiftly ordered a mammogram. However, what was next revealed were arduous long waits and a lack of services. Despite the urgency of her condition, Saskatchewan’s healthcare system has been unable to provide her with prompt attention. Now five months later, Lisa Vick, 48, still waits to see a surgeon. 

“I went to a doctor, and she put in a requisition for a mammogram, which was two months down the road. So, on December 1st, I went to the Breast Assessment Center in Regina. I had a mammogram and an ultrasound and found out the following Monday that it was a malignant tumor.” 

Vick's breast assessment results categorized her situation as urgent, requiring a biopsy to identify the type of cancer. Unfortunately, Saskatchewan's healthcare system is lacking the capacity to offer this essential service. 

“I ended up having to go to Calgary, which thankfully, the province opened up that opportunity for those of us that are on the urgent (list). I went to Calgary and had a biopsy and then with that, I was able to find out exactly what type of breast cancer I have.” 

The biopsy revealed that Vick has ductal carcinoma. However, her treatment plan remains uncertain. 

“The problem lies in that there are not enough professionals in the province. We don't have radiologists. We don't have enough surgeons, that's where the problem lies.” 

Initially, Vick kept her situation private, confiding only in family and a couple of close friends about her diagnosis. However, after enduring five months of waiting, she chose to end her silence. 

“I've decided to use my voice to help raise some awareness about this. I just think of all the other women out there in the same situation as me, waiting and waiting and waiting. And we just want some action. We need the Saskatchewan Health Authority and the Minister of Health to step up and get us these people in our province to get rid of these wait times and get us all the proper diagnosis, and testing that we need. To get these things moving along faster than they are.” 

Vick also shares she's been advocating on her behalf and encourages other women in her situation to do the same, “If there are any other women out there that might be in my situation, make sure you speak up, talk to your doctor, make some phone calls if you have to.  I've had to call different places and make sure that my files are there and just follow through. The women on the other end of the line, those receptionists have all been fantastic to me. They would say, we have your file, we're working on it. We know of your situation, but if there's no one at the other end to take those appointments or there's only a few people carrying the load. There's not much you can do but wait.” 

Despite Vick’s extreme circumstances, she remains positive, “I'm lucky, I've got my work and my family to keep me busy. I'm just staying positive because what else can you do in this situation? Because if you let it get to you... yeah, there's just no time or space in my head for that right now.” 

Vick is scheduled to see the surgeon for her first appointment on February 20th.