Yvette Busuttil, a 39 year old auditor at the local branch of an international audit firm was diagnosed with colon cancer. She had been suffering with slight discomfort which developed into severe pain attacks in her abdomen. Yvette says, "I did not ignore my symptoms, and went for tests, which resulted in my being given very frightening news. After my first operation and meeting my oncologist, he suggested we do a PET scan and thats when I was told that due to metastasis there was no cure for my ailments. As a family, united more than ever, we tried to come to terms with the situation."
"Through my partner Stefan, we sent my scans and medical records to a group of German doctors through a website NGO for a second opinion and to a relative Australian cancer surgeon who all agreed with what my oncologist suggested as a treatment regime. In addition to the normal chemotherapy combination, my oncologist recommended a special type of treatment not on the Maltese Government list, which costs €4,000 per dose. With 2 small children, and knowing there was a risk of failure, I did not know what to do," explains Yvette.
Yvette's cancer had reached beyond the colon into the lymph nodes and liver. She admits that, "I was in a fog for a while. With the help of God, Stefan, my parents and sister, brother-in-law and the prayers of the rest of my family and friends, I started my fight. I had to somehow get my anger and worry behind me and get to work on seeing my children grow up. We thought about all options but all my family was adamant that we would do anything to fight this even selling our homes to fund the recommended treatment. But I was so scared of using all of my parents hard-earned savings and leaving nothing for Stefan and the children if it was unsuccessful.
That's when I discovered that the health insurance which I was given when joining PwC (Coopers & Lybrand back in 1997) might be able to help and save the day! I had a Bupa Malta policy, so I called them and they immediately set to work to support my needs. That unforgettable phone call during Christmas week was the best present – I felt lucky again on so many counts and I re-discovered the hope that I had lost in those previous hard weeks".
Yvette started reading survivor stories and what to do and eat to combat cancer which she says made her feel less helpless. After surgery and half way through the course of the recommended chemotherapy in comfortable surroundings at St. James Hospital funded by Yvette's Bupa Malta policy, Yvette went for surgery to remove part of her liver. The surgeons could not find any remaining evidence of the cancer. "We were all ecstatic!! I could not believe that the chemo would work so well but on the other hand my doctors were taking no chances and being as aggressive as possible as they had promised me from day one. They were also so happy! And from my end I was definitely working hard doing everything on the books. I stopped eating sugars, white flour and processed foods and started juicing leafy green vegetables and eating all the superfoods on a daily basis. I also exercised as much as I could, whether jumping on my trampoline or walking around my hometown of Mtarfa. It was also nice to be able to work from home to give my health top priority, my employer has been very understanding.”
Yvette uneventfully completed her course of chemotherapy but then suffered another set-back when doctors could not tellwhether results from another PET scan were inflammation from the previous operation or residual cancer. Her doctors were taking no risk but this meant she had to be operated for the third time in less than eleven months, this time in England. “But I was very blessed yet again, to be given a nice, comfortable house there by Puttinu Cares, so I was constantly surrounded by my family. This really helped my morale and I am truly indebted to the gentle souls at Puttinu Cares who were so concerned that they would call me and ask me how everything was. The Maltese really pull together and coupled with a positive outcome from the operation, I felt totally uplifted and that we were finally turning a page." Yvette has remained cancer free since then, although she is anxiously awaiting blood results as we speak and glances nervously at her mobile phone every time it rings. “Please tell people not to give any importance to statistics! First of all most of them are based on old information and old treatments! Besides each story is unique as my oncologist wisely advises!”
Her phone rings again and she excuses herself, it's the call she's been waiting for. The courageous young woman has good news. "Today, I'm still cancer free. I am very grateful for my life. Ordinary things give me so much pleasure. Cooking, cleaning, looking after the children. Even hanging out the washing! But I also live in fear every day that the cancer will come back. I am still learning to relax and just live. I am on constant watch for signs but thanks to Lucienne Grech, Customer Relations Officer at Bupa Malta's Call Centre, I have been given every opportunity to get the check-ups and monitoring I need, and Lucienne has become a crucial support for me."
Yvette continues, "Being a private patient at hospital makes all the difference. They have specialists and everyone knows you personally, it's comfortable, there's an air of calm and that has helped me to gain confidence in the treatment and the process. Help and encouragement are everything in these life-threatening situations, and Bupa Malta’s support all the time helps you stay positive.
Bupa Malta's Lucienne Grech recounts her part in assisting Yvette with her claim, "Yvette had called Bupa to ask for confirmation of cover in relation to a treatment which she needed to undergo. I happened to be the Customer Care Service Representative to answer the call. At Bupa we always pride in giving personal attention to our clients. Therefore, I had given her my name and work email address so that she could contact me whenever she needed any Bupa assistance. I would handle her medical reports and knowing that Yvette would be anxiously awaiting my reply, I always tried to answer same day. All patients, not just cancer patients need care and support. I am sure that by now Yvette trusts that I always try my best to give her the best service. I am also sure that she knows that I genuinely care. My heart thrives when I hear from her and she lets me know that she is in good health."
Bupa Malta was the site of Bupa’s first international business. Bupa International, part of the healthcare group, Bupa, has provided international health insurance since 1971 and today is one of the leading international health insurers in the world. With customers in over 190 countries, Bupa International offers a range of high quality, flexible health insurance plans for companies and individuals living or working abroad, as well as a range of travel insurance plans. Bupa International offers customers access to more than 200,000 medical providers worldwide and can settle bills directly with over 7,500 hospitals and clinics. It also has a medical advice line staffed by a team of experienced, multi-lingual advisers to offer customers support 24 hours a day, every day. Bupa Malta’s customers receive round-the-clock support and advice through the worldwide emergency medical centre provided by Bupa International.
GlobalCapital Health Insurance Agency Limited acts as an insurance agent and is regulated by the Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA). Registered address: GlobalCapital Health Insurance Agency Limited, Testaferrata Street, Ta’ Xbiex XBX 1403, Malta.