By Bejay Browne
THE health minister has stepped in to grant a British expat resident in Peyia a ‘special circumstances’ medical card which will grant him access to essential cancer treatment to save his life.
Following a story in the Sunday Mail two weeks ago highlighting the plight of Alan McIntyre, 58, who is in urgent need of chemotherapy, Health Minister George Pamporidis has informed the cancer patient that he will personally authorise a special circumstances medial card.
“I would like to pass on my thanks to the minister of health for taking my situation into consideration and for making this decision. I hope that I will soon be able to receive the treatment that I need,” said McIntyre, who served as a firefighter in Britain for 32 years before moving to Cyprus in 2009.
Last week. McIntyre received a telephone call from the health ministry, made on behalf of the Pamboridis who was out of the country, to inform him that the minister has agreed to grant him a medical card under the ‘special circumstances’ section of the regulations.
“I was told that this will be confirmed shortly by letter and perhaps a further call directing me to which hospital I should report,” he said.
The medical card approval must be signed by the minister and so it will be a few more days before McIntyre hears anything further, he added.
This is welcome news for the cancer patient as a few small cancer cells which first showed up in his 2015 CT scan have now spread to his liver and lung and are growing daily. McIntyre was told by doctors that he needs a course of twelve sessions of chemotherapy at a cost of around €7,000 to €8,000. A sum of money he simply doesn’t have, he said.
After taking early retirement in 2009 and moving to Cyprus with his wife, McIntyre was belatedly diagnosed with colon cancer in 2015 and went to the private rather than public health sector for surgery because of the urgency of the situation.
The operation and treatment to remove a malignant tumour from his colon cost him around €17,000, using up his entire savings and leaving no money for the follow-up chemotherapy treatment he was prescribed.
McIntyre was informed that he did not meet the criteria to obtain a Cyprus health card, even though he said had applied on grounds of ‘special circumstances’ covering only chemotherapy treatment. He does not have the thousands needed to pay for it privately.
Green party MP, Charalambous Theopemptou who had promised to help when he heard of McIntyre’s situation said he was delighted with the outcome.
“I’m glad that Alan has finally got the arrangements that he wanted and I hope that the treatment starts as soon as possible. This is a happy ending with this procedure, and I also hope for a happy ending with his treatment. I would like to thank the minister personally for this outcome,” he said.
Theopemptou added that the minister informed him that he had never received an application for a ‘special circumstances,’ medical card from McIntyre.
According to the ministry of health website, aside from various criteria to be met to qualify for a general medical card, people suffering from a chronic disease are also eligible for a card providing the annual family income does not exceed €150,000. McIntye’s does not.
When a staff member at the citizen’s centre in Paphos told him that he was not eligible without further explanation, he asked for the form to be sent anyway, and attached a letter from his doctor.
The reply stated that he couldn’t have a card as he is not entitled, but he then appealed to the health ministry and the minister but received no reply or acknowledgement.
McIntyre has also put his home on the market in a bid to raise money for treatment, but it is still for sale nine months later.
Following McIntyre’s story in the media, supporters and well-wishers moved by his situation contacted the Sunday Mail with offers to raise funds for the cancer patient’s treatment. He said that both he and his wife were overwhelmed by people’s kindness.
“I am very touched and my wife was very emotional about these offers, and thanks to everyone, but I don’t want to take them up. There are people far more deserving than me and I am fortunate that the cancer was caught when it was. Hopefully all of my treatment for my condition is now all covered anyway, thanks to the minister,” he said.
He added that he felt embarrassed about having to go public with his story, but felt that it was the only way that his voice would be heard.