‘Mama, I’ll be brave’: Family paying for girl’s cancer supplements after OHIP+ changes
A Waterloo family is struggling to pay for the costs of a six-year-old girl’s cancer supplement that’s no longer covered by the province.
Abigayle Lobsinger was first diagnosed with stage four neuroblastoma, a rare, aggressive form of childhood cancer, at age three.
In February of 2017, a doctor told the family that there were no active signs of the cancer. By Christmas of the following year, it was back.
“She never complained. She has never asked, ‘Why me?’” says Abigayle’s dad, Kevin Lobsinger. “The only thing she kept saying was, ‘Mama, I’ll be brave.’”
While she gets treatment, it’s been tough for Abigayle to gain and maintain weight. Her doctor prescribed a tube feed supplement to help.
The family says the costs were covered by OHIP+ until April 1, where new rules came into play: those with private plans could no longer get free prescriptions. The Lobsingers have private plans but the supplements aren’t covered by them.
“Each case is $437. Abigayle goes through about a case a week,” her dad says.
Waterloo MPP Catherine Fife brought the family’s story to Queen’s Park last week, slamming the provincial government for the changes to OHIP+ and its effects on families.
“This government needs to get their priorities straight and support kids like Abigayle,” Fife says in a Facebook post.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Health says that families that are missed under the OHIP+ umbrella can instead apply for the Trillium Drug Program or the Ontario Drug Benefit Program for eligible drugs.
Those programs may not help the Lobsingers' situation, though.
“Patients tolerating some solid foods and requiring only supplementation in addition to food are not eligible for coverage,” says Mark Nesbitt with the ministry. “These eligibility provisions are unrelated to OHIP+ and have been in place for approximately 15 years.”
On May 8, Abigayle will be admitted at Sick Kids Hospital for a new therapy called MIBG therapy. The family says there is no timeline for her discharge.
An online fundraiser has raised more than $30,000 to support the family over the last three years.