Woodbridge woman plans wedding as COVID delays cancer surgery

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Against all odds, Cassandra Dimaria remains calm and understanding.

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The 30-year-old Woodbridge woman had cancer surgery postponed multiple times due to the chaos of COVID, and recently, her cousin Vanessa Pilieci went public with her story.

Pilieci took to social media frustrated by the delays her beloved relative has endured, she posts about Dimaria’s ordeal in the last 15 months.

“I am posting this to bring to light a story of how Ontario canceled a LIFE SAVING surgery on a stage 4 cancer patient,” he wrote. “My 30-year-old cousin, with a wedding scheduled for April 2023 and her ENTIRE life ahead of her, will die thanks to the reckless decision to cancel and postpone ‘non-urgent’ surgeries.”

“When will Canadians, who have done their part by getting the vaccine and staying home, be considered a PRIORITY? When will my cousin, who is fighting stage four cancer, be as important as a covid-19 patient?

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Dimaria just hopes her story helps other patients and raises awareness about delays.

In November 2020, Dimaria was diagnosed with colon cancer and underwent immediate surgery. He had had a few days of severe pain but otherwise had no prior symptoms.

Seventeen cycles of chemotherapy followed.

A second surgery was scheduled for November 2021, but that did not happen. Another date was set for January 2022, but it was cancelled. It was rescheduled and then canceled again.

Now there is no date.

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He had to stop chemotherapy in preparation for surgery. His concern now is that the cancer continues to grow and spread while he is not receiving chemotherapy or surgery.

Reached at his home on Thursday, Dimaria said: “I wanted to send the message that I recognize that COVID is very serious and that everyone’s life matters, but we deserve to receive the necessary treatment.

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“I would say there were some flaws in the way things were handled, and that contributed to the mess I’m in.”

The health care response to COVID needs to be reassessed, “for my sake and for others in the same position.”

COVID has shadowed every stage of his illness. The health protocols mean that she has had to face all the appointments and treatments completely alone.

“I’m doing everything I can to keep a positive mindset,” Dimaria said. “It’s hard sometimes. Mental health-related issues are one factor. No one wants to be in this position.”

She couldn’t do it without the support of her family, friends and her fiancé, Stefan Cescon, she said.

When her hair fell out to her waist during chemotherapy, she said, her cousin Vanessa shaved her head in solidarity.

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“My family has been amazing. That’s a bit understated. They and my fiancé have really been taking good care of me.”

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Dimaria and her fiancé plan to get married on April 1, 2023, and she continues to try to work on her wedding plans.

“I’m doing the best I can, hoping that all this will pass so I can continue,” Dimaria said. “I do everything I can handle.”

“I get tired easily, but it takes my mind off this madness,” he added.

Dimaria said that she does not blame anyone for what has happened to her.

“It is nobody’s fault. And I know that the nurses and surgeons are doing the best they can. Unfortunately, people like me continue to suffer. Hopefully, they will reassess what is considered urgent.”

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