Terry Willis, who is homeless and battling cancer, is shown in Victoria, Monday, Sept.24, 2018. Terry Willis says he’s praying for a clean, safe place to live to undergo the cancer treatments he needs after he was denied chemotherapy because he lives in a Victoria homeless shelter. (Hilary Marks/Contributed)

Victoria cancer patient denied chemo due to condition of homeless shelter

Victoria housing and health advocates say this isn’t an isolated case

Terry Willis says he’s praying for a clean, safe place to live to undergo the cancer treatments he needs after he was denied chemotherapy because he stays in a Victoria homeless shelter.

The 50-year-old is facing his second fight against blood cancer in seven years, but he says his oncologist won’t start chemotherapy treatments because the shelter where he lives in not a suitable recovery environment.

Victoria housing and health advocates say this isn’t an isolated case and that many other vulnerable people living in shelters or on the streets are not getting the care they need because of their poor living conditions.

Willis, a former warehouse worker who ended up living on the streets after his wife died, says he originally disagreed with the decision to deny him treatment, but now realizes he needs a clean, quiet home to rest.

The Portland Hotel Society, which operates the downtown shelter where Willis lives, says in a statement that it is working with Willis and his doctors to facilitate his treatment for non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

The Island Health authority says discussions are underway with the B.C. Cancer Agency, B.C. Housing, and the Portland Hotel Society to get the help that Willis needs.

The Canadian Press

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