Resident Marlane Warren is dying from terminal cancer and wants to spend her remaining time enjoying life, but a lockdown in her seniors’ home is preventing her from venturing outside.
“I’m fully vaccinated, yet I have to stay here (at Chez Nous Senior Citizens Home). You feel like a prisoner. It’s not just me, but it’s everybody who lives here. We get tested all the time,” Warren said recently.
“The other thing that really concerns me is that the government has gone from one end of the pendulum of not caring to the other to lockdown. And with COVID, it’s still out there. It’s a fact of life (and) it’s not going anywhere. I don’t want to spend the last few months I have (locked up).”
Warren added that despite taking weekly COVID-19 tests that always come back negative, she is not allowed to leave.
A lockdown was declared at Chez Nous on Jan. 3 after two cases of COVID-19 were discovered on Dec. 30, 2021.
According to manager Manon Desruisseaux, everyone in the building is fully vaccinated — including those who contracted the virus. During a previous lockdown, residents were not allowed to leave for three months.
“Now I’m begging them to remove the outbreaks so people can be with family,” Desruisseaux added. “The residents are getting depressed.”
Warren’s health challenges began around July 24, 2021, after visiting her optometrist about her cataracts. He sent her for a medical check-up, and the doctor immediately sent her to the Regina General Hospital. The next day, surgeons removed a tumour from her brain that affected her balance.
She now suffers from short-term memory loss.
Doctors later diagnosed Warren, 70, in August with terminal cancer after discovering a mass in her colon.
Warren began chemotherapy and radiation in Regina, which made her violently sick and created blood clots in her arms.
In October, she was taken to the hospital after the chemo caused her to collapse.
“I couldn’t hold my head up. They put me in a (ceiling-mounted) body sling to get me out of the chair,” Warren said. “They said, ‘God isn’t ready to take you yet.’”
While doctors said her brain tumour was gone, cancer in her colon remained. They told her that she had weeks to live but no firm timeline.
In December, Warren contracted an infection in the hospital, with doctors thinking she wouldn’t make it. The hospital offered her medical assistance in dying (MAID) — or doctor-assisted suicide — and she signed the papers but never indicated what day she wanted to die.
In January, doctors told Warren she had a few months to live with or without treatment, although treatment would make life unbearable. So, she quit the chemo and decided to spend her final months in palliative care; she arrived at Chez Nous in January.
Because she has terminal cancer, the province allowed her to have cataract surgery on Jan. 25.
“I just hope that the lockdown can change,” she added. “I don’t think it’s fair.”
The Moose Jaw Express contacted the Saskatchewan Health Authority for a response. A spokesman explained that the SHA does not operate Chez Nous and referred all questions about the home’s outbreak policies to the owner/operator.
Desruisseaux explained in a separate interview that the local medical health officer and public health decide when to remove the “outbreak status” and not the home. Both said recently that Chez Nous could exit its lockdown on Friday, Feb. 25.
“… We’d like it to be sooner,” she added. “When you’ve only got four to eight weeks left to live, two weeks is a very long time.”