In order to live, Edmonton resident Kent Pankow needs a combination of chemotherapy daily and Avastin treatments bi-weekly.

Living with brain cancer has been an extraordinarily difficult ordeal for him and his wife, Deborah Hurford. What’s made matters even more trying is that while others in Alberta receive cancer treatment for free, Pankow pays approximately $10,000 a month.

“I don’t know anybody who could afford it,” said Pankow, who was first diagnosed in January 2000 after having a seizure.

Avastin is a drug that starves tumours. It has been approved in Canada for breast, colon and lung cancers, but not brain cancer.

“It’s a common treatment in the United States,” Pankow said.

At the hospital, Pankow sits beside colon cancer patients who don’t pay for their treatments.
“I joke with the nurses and they’re shocked when they hear that I have to pay,” he said.

One of Pankow’s surgeries can cost from $76,000 to $84,000.

“Kent’s not the only one in this situation,” said Hurford.

“We strongly believe that the Alberta health-care system should take care of all its patients, even ones with cancer.”

For now, Pankow is still paying, and his family has launched a human-rights complaint against the government. He tries to live as healthily as possible, though the chemotherapy makes him tired.

A fundraising dinner for Pankow will be held on Wednesday from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Origin India Restaurant.

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