Danielle Smith’s cancer claims anger Alberta cancer patients

Two cancer patients in Alberta share their feelings after hearing UCP leadership candidate Danielle Smith say cancer is within your control until stage four – and Sarah Chew gets their reaction to her clarification at the UCP leadership debate.

By Sarah Chew

A stage four cancer patient says she was shocked and outraged after hearing UCP leadership candidate Danielle Smith say in a Twitter broadcast last week that cancer is preventable up to the fourth stage.

“I got tongue-tied, I got frustrated, I got so angry, I’ve had some tears. It’s just the frustration and the anger that I’m feeling right now about what she said,” said Trina McCloy, a stage four metastatic non-small cell ALK-positive lung cancer patient.

In her broadcast, Smith said, “But, when you think about everything that built up before you got to stage four and that diagnosis, that’s completely within your control and there’s something you can do about that that is different.”

BACKGROUND: Smith slammed for cancer misinformation in UCP Leadership debate

“I felt sick to my stomach,” said McCloy. “The first one was, as a politician and a so-called educated person, how could she be so ignorant to the fact of how cancer works.”

McCloy was active and healthy before being diagnosed with lung cancer and she isn’t the only cancer patient whose diagnosis was sudden and not preventable.

“I knew I had a problem in my back and I thought I’d injured it exercising,” said Barry Gibson, a colon cancer survivor and multiple myeloma patient. “But it turned out it was multiple myeloma. It gets in your bone marrow, and it causes a weakening of bones – quite often multiple myeloma patients will find out they have multiple myeloma because they’ll do something like go golfing and break a rib.”

Gibson’s type of blood cancer affects life expectancy at any stage. So he says Smith’s insinuation that patients have a choice to control their cancer up to the fourth stage is false.

“She had an opportunity to make sure she was speaking clearly,” said Gibson. “To say that stage four cancer is the only time. It’s just foolish.”

Danielle Smith responded to the public backlash during the UCP Leadership Debate held on July 27th.

“I want to take a moment to clarify a comment I made in a podcast last week about cancer that was misunderstood,” said Smith. “I know that cancer can strike anyone, at any time with no relation to lifestyle. There are so many more options. If you diagnose early, then you can treat early. That’s what I was trying to say, albeit awkwardly.”

But cancer patient McCloy says that Smith’s clarification is not enough for her.

“Just come out and be honest about, ‘I didn’t have all the information I need to talk about this. I’m going to reach out to an oncologist or a cancer specialist, and I’m going to learn a little bit more about it. I’m going to educate myself so I can help’,” said McCloy.

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