Frustrating Mammogram wait times in Canada for 5+ years out
Every year since moving to Ottawa nearly 6 years ago, I start reminding my family doctor to kindly, please, book my mammogram. I was sternly warned by my many medical professionals to get my annual mammogram on my remaining breast to make sure that the benign, previously biopsied fibroadenoma is still the exact same size. A few years back my annual "don't freaking miss it" April appointment got pushed to become an annual August appointment because of a massive amount of mammogram delay, 4 months in community.
When I was diagnosed in Calgary, thanks to the way their system was set up, I could book a next few days or even a next day mammogram with ease once I had the requisition. Convenient hours and so many convenient locations, to choose from across a comparable size population to Ottawa. Also I could get 3D mammograms there. Meanwhile, here in Ottawa, I can count the locations the whole non-oncologist seeing population can go to on one hand in this city.
As a younger survivor who cannot book her own as a high-risk surviver still despite losing a breast to a very large, very fast growing breast cancer almost 10 years ago, this is tough. All the high-risk 50-74 year olds can self-refer. Here in Ottawa, there are massive waits for those of us lucky enough to be over 5 years out. There's no special cancer survivor or special young breast cancer survivor treatment here. I join other high riskers in a large line of folks to mammogram annually. The backlog is blamed on COVID now. When I called to follow up on my family doctor's May 3rd request, I was told that my requisition is currently in a requisition queue. A pre-line line. *If*I were lucky enough to be able to book today, I could get an October 2022 appointment. My May 3rd requisition means that I will likely be able to be seen for my August 2022 appointment in January 2023. A whole 6 months later than when I'm supposed to be seen.
I was already floored by how long it has taken the last six years to get a simple screening mammogram in a city of over a million people. As a young lady who already faced breast cancer's wrath at age 34 with cancer that already got into my lymph nodes, cancer that already cost me my entire breast, learning that I would now be waiting 3 months, instead of days like in Calgary to get a simple screening mammogram 6 years ago--pre-COVID times was hard enough. I had mentioned no 3D mammograms are available to me either, which I thought was fine, until the one mammogram I had where they noted that my fibroadenoma had disappeared. It was back same size the next year, so I'm a huge fan of 3D for that reason.
This system is so broken here. I thankfully can't speak for the diagnostic mammograms wait times here and I hope I never, ever have to. I have heard they are slow though. I had a very aggressive cancer that was doubling very fast that and long waits 100% would have been too late for me with my aggressive cancer's doubling rate.
Is anyone else going through this? Is it just me?