Heather Crowe readmitted to hospital

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Heather Crowe readmitted to hospital

August 16, 2005

It is with great sadness that Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada informs Heather Crowe’s admirers and well-wishers that her cancer is no longer in remission.  Heather Crowe has been admitted to the Queensway-Carleton Hospital in Ottawa where she has learned her cancer has spread to her liver, and she is now undergoing tests to determine if her cancer has spread even further.

 “There’s only so long you can cheat the devil,” Heather told us yesterday. “And I feel I have already cheated him for past three years. I am happy with the things I have been able to do in that time.”

Heather Crowe is an Ottawa waitress who was diagnosed three years ago with inoperable lung cancer attributable to her exposure to second-hand smoke during a 40-year career of working in restaurants, bars and banquet halls.  At the time of her diagnosis, she was given a fifteen per cent chance of surviving for five years.

Following her diagnosis, Heather filed a claim with the Workers Safety and Insurance Board and became the subject of the first successful claim for full compensation for lung cancer caused by occupational exposure to cigarette smoke. She allowed her story to be told in a powerful Health Canada advertisement and she also set out to change labour laws across Canada so that other workers would not suffer the same outcome.

“Heather has made a world of difference,” said Neil Collishaw, Research Director with Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada.  “ When she was very ill, but nonetheless very determined, in the middle of her first round of chemotherapy in 2002, she wrote all of the federal, provincial and territorial Ministers of Labour, offering to meet with them and requesting that they change their laws so that all workers were protected from second-hand smoke.  In all but a few jurisdictions, her campaign is succeeding.  By next year almost all Canadians will have legal protection from second-hand smoke at work.”

Heather is very pleased with the progress that has been made.  “We changed the face of labour by standing up for the rights of workers,” she said.  “But we still need to convince a few more jurisdictions to change their laws and give all workers equal protection from second-hand smoke.”

When she started her campaign, Heather said, “I want to be the last person to die from second-hand smoke at work.”  Now from her hospital bed, she says, “I still want all workers to be protected from second-hand smoke at work.  There is not a single worker in Canada who deserves my fate.  There should be no second-class lungs.  Every worker deserves first-class protection.”

Heather wants people to know that she is getting excellent care at the Queensway Carleton Hospital and is very grateful for the kindness that has been extended to her across Canada.  “I  really appreciate that people have mentioned me in their prayers and have cared what happens to me,” says Heather.

Those desiring to wish Heather well can send their words of support by mail to Heather Crowe, care of Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada, 1226A Wellington Street, Ottawa, Canada, K1Y 3A1, by fax to 1 613 233 7797 or by email to psc@smoke-free.ca.

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Page Last Updated: 08/07/2008