A Cape Breton woman fighting for her life after a cancer diagnosis finds herself in a serious financial struggle at the same time.
Heather Parsons' insurance benefits do not cover some of her basic needs, but she's doing her best to stay hopeful.
She has been through a lot since being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in October 2020.
"I did not ever expect that that was going to be my diagnosis,” she said. “I was totally floored."
On top of the low survival rate associated with that disease, the mother of two recently came to realize she didn't have much in the way of coverage while she's off work receiving treatment.
"My issue is with EI It's only 15 weeks, and then after that, CPP disability is like $800 a month,” she said. “And there's no way I'm going to be able to afford anything on $800 a month."
Before starting chemotherapy at the end of November, Parsons worked in the baking department at the horizon achievement centre - a vocational training centre for adults with disabilities.
She says she doesn't have long-term benefits at her job.
With her employment insurance set to expire in April, she says she was left with a choice of going back to work while still receiving treatment or being left unable to pay some of her bills.
"Like what am I going to do? I have a home that I have to pay for, I have a new car that I bought before I knew I was sick,” she said. “I have lots of bills, like everybody else."
It turns out that on Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced new extensions to EI benefits as part of an extension to pandemic supports.
Since the announcement was made only Friday afternoon, Parsons says it's too soon to know if -- or how much -- it will help her situation.
In the meantime, her brother has started an online fundraiser.
"The only thing I can say is I have great friends and family,” she said. “And I don't think any of them will let me lose my home."
Parsons adds she spoke out not only for her own sake, but to try to make sure others are covered while battling serious illnesses.
As for her cancer battle, she says her tumour has shrunk a bit, and while she's aware of the odds, she's determined to beat her disease.