Elective surgery delays lead to dire outcomes for cancer survivor

A cancer survivor who has been waiting three years for a breast removal procedure has implored the McGowan Government to urgently review elective surgery delays after being diagnosed with breast cancer again.
Michelle Hansford had her left breast removed after being diagnosed with aggressive stage three cancer in 2017. She underwent chemotherapy and radiation, suffering severe burns, before her treatment finished in 2019.
The Busselton grandmother has been on the waitlist to have her right breast removed and both breasts reconstructed since 2019 but has been repeatedly told COVID was the cause of the delays to the surgery which should have happened within 12 months.
Ms Hansford recently discovered a tumour in her breast which has now been confirmed as cancer and will have to undergo urgent treatment.
Shadow Health Minister Libby Mettam said the delays were devastating for the grandmother.
“Ms Hansford has been waiting three times the ‘desirable waiting time’ for this type of surgery and now has to face another round of debilitating treatment with far-reaching consequences physically, mentally and financially for both her and her family,” Ms Mettam said.
“This was totally avoidable if she had received her surgery in the appropriate time frame but due to the McGowan Government’s bungling of the health system and continual elective surgery cancellations, this grandmother has a long and arduous fight ahead of her.
“It is absolutely unacceptable that with very few cases of COVID in the community for the first two years of the pandemic, cancelling or delaying these surgeries was used a quick fix to ease pressure on the health system with very little consideration of the long-term impact.
“Just because a surgery is deemed elective does not mean it’s non-essential and delays can often lead to increased medical complications, which is devastatingly what has happened to Ms Hansford.”
Ms Mettam said the grandmother had every right to be angry at the way in which she has been treated and urged the McGowan Government to reassess it’s planned reduction of some category 2 and 3 surgeries from mid-March.
“Cancelling elective surgeries should be a last resort, not a go-to measure to reduce pressure on a system,” Ms Mettam said.