Cancer survivor who dared premier to meet on viral video gets his wish



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The cancer survivor who dared the Nova Scotia prime minister to meet with her about the problems she sees in the health care system in a tearful viral video will sit down with Stephen McNeil in May.

Inez Rudderham's cancer diagnosis was lost for two years because she did not have a family doctor. She said that her goal is to listen McNeil's position on the state of health care in the province.

"I understand where the New Scots come from, where I come from, but I do not know where they come from and how they can say there are no problems or crises," Rudderham, 33, said on Tuesday. "I want to give them an opportunity to explain myself and open my conscience.

"I think it's important that it's not just focused on my story. My story is the reason it was brought to light at all, but I think it's much bigger than that."

Rudderham said she was removed from three emergency departments before being diagnosed with stage three anal cancer. She is now in remission after being treated with radiation and chemotherapy.

Nova Scotia Prime Minister Stephen McNeil recently admitted that there are "challenges" in the province's health care system. (Andrew Vaughan / Canadian Press)

The prime minister's office confirmed the planned meeting with Rudderham.

"There are challenges in the system" McNeil said in a statement on Friday. "I've always recognized that, but we're working hard to improve."

After her harsh criticism of what she called the "failed system" in a video that was seen more than 4.2 million times since last Tuesday, Rudderham said she was surprised and grateful when she received a call from McNeil's office on Sunday.

"I did not expect the conversation to be as positive and open as it was. I feel they are willing to listen to me and are willing to work with me," she said.

She credits the support she received online and an interview with CBC News as what helped to get the meeting together.

Rudderham said he also plans to fight for health professionals as he talks to the prime minister. She has no ill will toward them.

"These doctors and nurses are working on a system that does not support them," Rudderham said. "They see a young mother, 31, vigorous and energetic, they do not think of cancer, they are not looking for zebras, they are looking for horses, it's not their fault."

Last week, Rudderham said he felt he could not get the information he needed to seek mental health care when he was diagnosed for the first time. She missed two appointments with a social worker at the beginning and end of treatment.

After she started seeking help in mental health in January, she was told she would have to wait until July for an appointment.

She says she feels a lot of responsibility talking to McNeil, but sees it as an opportunity.

"I knew from the beginning if I got this type of cancer, it was for a reason," she said. "Maybe that's why I caused cancer. Because I was raised to be noisy and stubborn.

"Cancer was my gift."

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