Family wonders if a quicker cancer diagnosis could have saved Thunder Bay, Ont., woman’s life – CBC

It took 15 months and 6 biopsies before Heidi Smith was diagnosed with T-cell lymphoma

Sep 25, 2023

A nurse in Thunder Bay, Ont., is seeking answers about why her mother — who died last year — couldn’t get an appointment with a blood-disease specialist until she received a cancer diagnosis, and is pushing for changes that would let some patients see one sooner.

Heidi Smith died in August 2022 at age 63 of Stage 4 peripheral T-cell lymphoma, a rare form of blood cancer, said her daughter, Mariah Mrakic-TenHave.

Smith, who was already a breast cancer survivor, received a number of diagnostic tests over 15 months at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre (TBRHSC). They included blood tests, MRIs, needle nose aspirations and other biopsies — but the results kept coming back inconclusive.

Despite her declining health, Smith was not allowed to see a hematologist in Thunder Bay without a cancer diagnosis.

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