Following is a transcript of the eMail exchange I had with the customer service person at the Princess Margaret Hospital. But first, some background.

I had a blood test done on May 3rd, in preparation for the Chemo session scheduled for the 4th. I always try and go the previous day. Gives everyone time to get everything ready. They take about an hour to provide the blood analysis, and about two hours to get the drugs ready. Going the day before takes an edge out of the time factor.

I received a phone call letting me know that my white blood cell count was too low for Chemo. It stood at 0.8. Has to be above 1.5. Dr. Hedley instructed me to have another test done on the 4th. Blood cell counts have been known to increase overnight. I went in on Tuesday morning at around 8:00 prior to my 10:00 Chemo session appointment. I showed up at the chemo session precisely at 10:00. No idea how I pulled that off.

The administrative person pulls my file. I explain my predicament to her indicating that if my blood cell count is low, I should go home. She cannot look at my blood results, nor is she willing to show them to me. Only a nurse can look at them. Anyways, there is a red tag on my chart which means Chemo is a go. Getting a nurse to review things did not seem to be an option. In hindsight, I should have put more pressure on her.

I waited about 45 minutes, and decided to get a bite to eat. Got a pager. Confirmed that they were just waiting for the drugs to show up from the pharmacy. I returned at 11:01 which the nurse was kind enough to point out to me. Where had I been. They had paged me at 10:55. The nurse wanted to see me. Not good. The nurse explained that they had made a mistake. My blood count had dropped to 0.7.


Wrote a letter to the customer service rep. The letter and responses are below.

I may have a foot in the grave, but the other one is kicking ass.

Farokh Monajem
sender-time Sent at 12:13 PM (GMT-04:00). Current time there: 11:53 AM. ✆

I am a patient of your hospital. Needless to say, I have cancer and am receiving chemo treatments.

The positive: your nurses are amazing. They brighten our day. They smile, talk, advise, listen and are generally an admirable group of people.

The negative: The front desk. All of the staff appear to be there to block our access to everything, be it the nurses, or information of any kind. We were waiting at one time for our treatment. After a couple of hours, my wife went to find out why the delay. She was stonewalled. I went to ask the same question, and was chastised by the only male on the desk for asking. We were told that we have to wait and to stop asking. Some customer service.

I went to the blood clinic yesterday. Another fine group of people work there. My blood count was too low to receive treatment. I was told to rest and try again this morning. I made my way to the clinic this morning and had another test done. I showed up at the chemo daycare unit at 10:00, the time of my appointment. I requested specifically to check the blood count to see if I was to receive treatment. I explained that my blood count had been low the previous day. There was a red sticker on my folder, which meant there would be chemo. My while blood cell count yesterday was at .8. I doubted it would jump to 1.5 overnight, though such things have been known to happen.

I went to talk to the front desk again at 10:45. Are we just waiting for the drugs to be readied? I was assured that was indeed the case. All systems are go, just waiting for the pharmacy. I got a pager and went down to Druxy’s. Came back up at 11:01. I know that, because the front desk asked me where I had been, whether I had stayed in the building or not. They had paged me at 10:55, and it was not 11:01. Considering my wait of an hour, they can wait a few minutes. The idea of even mentioning the time element shows a total lack of consideration for our condition.

The nurse wanted to talk to me. A mistake had been made on my file. No chemo today. White blood cell count was still too low at 0.7.

I waited an hour to hear this. I took my drugs, which I did not need to take. I have to pay for parking, $200.00 instead of $4.00. I went to Druxy’s to get a bite to eat, $10.00. All in all, This experience cost me time, frustration, and $41.00 which I could have avoided.

The front desk should have consulted a nurse having heard my concerns. But they don’t. They obstruct. This is very poor customer service.


Dear Farokh Monajem
While we love to hear only good things, it is hearing that negative comments that give us an opportunity to make improvements. I am very , very sorry to hear about this confusion and the poor customer service that you encountered.
I am sending your email to the Ms. Jan Stewart, the Clinical Director for the daycare area so that she can review with the appropriate manager?
May i ask, was this expenditure for medication covered in any way by a third party insurer or was it all out of your pocket?
Sharon Rogers
Director, Patient Relations.

The drug expense is the price the pharmacy charges you for dispensing the drug. I would rather not have to take the drugs in the first place. I waited for the confirmation that chemo was a go before taking them.

The confusion is acceptable, There was one person at the front desk who is no longer there who was brilliant. Sorry I do not know her name. My appointment for chemo treatment was done for the wrong day (a while ago). The young lady smiled and said, don’t worry, we will look after you. And she did. Defused the whole situation in the blinking of an eye.

The current staff seem to think we are in the way of them doing their job. Very sad.

I apologise if my tone is angry. There seems to be a lot of anger in cancer patients. I am still trying to figure where it all comes from, other than the obvious, you have cancer, duh! I wonder if other chronic patients have the same level of anger in them. Thoughts for another day.

One more thing. I mentioned in my original eMail that parking was $200. Closer to $20. Damn typos.

Thank you for responding. Much appreciated.


you have not lost your sense of humour and that is wonderful.
some thoughts for what it is worth to you in response to the perhaps rhetorical questions ‘where does the anger come from’; from my 20 plus years of experience it comes from : 1. your life , as you had planned it and as it had every reasonable chance of turning out, suddenly took a very bad left turn and you are ticked since all the plans got messed up; 2. it feels as if your body is rebelling against you 3. it is a real pain going through the treatments, the appointments, the waste of time, the waiting time, the people who cause aggravation etc etc. 4. you have a significant condition that reasonably bring fear, anger, hopelessness amongst many other feelings.
So that you kept your sense of humour is wonderful.
that you ‘got rid of some of the anger’ just by writing an email and now are kind enough to just say ‘forget about it’ tells us you have maintained your balance, your sense of reasonableness and kindness.
sounds to me like you are doing really well; a heck of allot better than a lot of people without cancer.
so carry on and may i send you my thanks and compliments !!!! Sharon

I meant to write you a while ago, but a Chemo session (number 14) got in the way.

You are too kind. I appreciate the analysis about the anger. I have an appointment with Dr. Melnyk to delve a bit deeper into this.

I understand all the reasons. Life is disrupted, and not just mine, but a whole bunch of people who surround me. It is a bit humbling. We have spent our life making plans. Another disruption of them may prove to even be good. There are a number of elements of this condition that are curiously interesting. Disruption of plans means you have to make new ones. Whether they pan or not is immaterial. Keeps you positive, and busy.

I met with my family doctor, my angel. She maintains that part of the anger comes from becoming removed from having the time to think about things. From not being tied down to making that appointment at 2PM and being stuck in traffic trying to get there. On some level, we have deeper thoughts. I am working on it.

I am doing well. Look great as well. Everyone is telling me that. Still perplexed about this whole thing.

Anyway, thanks for getting back to me.


You sound like a wonderful, thoughtful person with lots of family and good
and then there are some irritating situations.
I UNDERSTAND: please feel free to write, vent, yell whatever to me whenever
you need/want. it helps a bit.
better with me than with the folks looking after you!

OK, so even the customer service rep at the hospital is super nice. Deep sigh.

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