Aleecia-Marie Doyle keeps coughing up blood.
The 27-year-old had a lump detected on her lung in March, but still has no surgery date, thanks to Manitoba’s snowballing health-care delays.
"It’s urgent, because I'm short of breath, but I can't get the surgery," said Doyle, who’s urging Manitobans to stay home to stop the spread of COVID-19.
The coronavirus has Manitoba’s intensive-care wards bursting at the seams and Ontario, Saskatchewan and, perhaps soon, American states taking in patients.
Yet there are thousands of Manitobans waiting on procedures for conditions that aren't currently life-threatening, but are significantly affecting their quality of life.
Doyle is an autism tutor at St. Amant Centre, and continues to work, to help make sure kids keep learning during the pandemic.
At times, she has to excuse herself to cough, which leaves her light-headed and short of breath.
In March, as the second wave of COVID-19 abated in Manitoba, Doyle was diagnosed with a carcinoid tumour. She’s supposed to have surgery, but needs a PET scan to check for more tumours. That’s being put on hold as hospitals focus on the most-urgent needs.
"It’s so frustrating, because I’ve been staying home and I haven't seen my family and I've been following the public-health orders," she said, expressing dismay over the fact that malls are open and non-essential workplaces are operating.
"It’s hard emotionally, knowing that I have this tumour and anything can go wrong, and I have a husband and four–year–old at home. I want to be present with them, but I'm sick." – Aleecia–Marie Doyle
Premier Brian Pallister and other provincial officials insist Manitoba has imposed some of the strongest COVID-19 measures in Canada, but some residents simply haven't been following the rules.
Other provinces have been far more successful dealing with their third waves, which took hold weeks before it did in Manitoba.
Earlier this month, Manitoba released modelling it had suppressed for weeks, showing case numbers and hospitalization rates were racing towards the projected worst-case scenario in late April.
The province eventually tightened public-health measures on May 9, despite a well-documented lag effect in which even medium-sized outbreaks that aren’t contained escalate rapidly.
"Manitoba has been so reactive; they don't put in restrictions until our case counts are super-high, and then we feel miserable because our numbers are so high and hospitals are overflowing," said Doyle.
"If they restricted things before this got so bad, then this wouldn't have happened."
Doyle has had an initial COVID-19 vaccine. Because she's considered high-risk, she is eligible — and booked — for the second dose.
"I’m still at risk, and I have this tumour on my lung, so if I got COVID it would be very bad," she said.
"It’s hard emotionally, knowing that I have this tumour and anything can go wrong, and I have a husband and four-year-old at home. I want to be present with them, but I'm sick."
In the first wave, Manitoba delayed at least 5,300 surgeries, though some estimates have the figure at closer to 12,000. Data is still being tabulated from the second wave, with Manitoba being the first province to again postpone elective surgeries.
Doctors across Canada have warned that delaying care is causing mental-health issues, putting people on painkillers that could breed addiction and risking children outgrowing the period for surgeries needed to prevent lifelong problems.
On Tuesday, Shared Health said it is postponing more non-critical surgeries, including cardiac procedures, to help redeploy nurses.
The delayed surgeries create other strains on the system.
“I personally can't believe that this is happening in my province and in my country.” – Sara Corrigan
"I personally can't believe that this is happening in my province and in my country," said Sara Corrigan, who is mostly bed-ridden as a result of a painful uterine condition.
She's had major surgery cancelled twice since last August and had to visit the ER last week after a reaction to painkillers. Doctors initially suspected a heart attack, but tests indicated the problem was a stomach-lining reaction.
"So far the rug hasn't pulled out from underneath me a third time," said Corrigan, who is still scheduled for a surgical procedure next month.
"It hurts my heart that we've been so neglected, and that our health has been considered to be such a low priority."
Corrigan, who is stunned by the fact non-essential businesses are operating, said she wonders what her life will look like when she finally does get her operation.
"I don't even want to live in Manitoba anymore," she said. "I used to love Manitoba; I used to think Manitoba was about people.
"I feel like we're in some kind of twilight zone; it's mind-boggling."