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Nova Scotia Cancer Care - Where located, experiences of treatment
9 Posts

I have recently completed chemotherapy for NH Lymphoma and am now on Rituximab maintenance for two years. My partner and I are Canadian ex-pats living in the UK, and seriously considering moving to Nova Scotia. Neither of us has ever lived in NS before, but we'd like to make a new start (sort of semi-retirement) in a new place. We really like arts and crafts, and we've heard from many people that NS is very friendly! We're considering the South Shore, or possibly Digby area, but even Cape Breton Island.

Here's the question: Where would I need to go to continue maintenance treatment in Nova Scotia? Is this something that can be arranged at local community hospitals, or would I need to travel to either Halifax or Sydney each time?

Also, I'd be interested to hear from anyone about their general experiences of getting treatment in Nova Scotia.

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Hello @Boater - congratulations on completing chemo and being in maintenance mode! You may want to share that in our Ring our Virtual Bell discussion here:


What an adventure you and your partner are contemplating! I have never lived in Nova Scotia but have visited twice and it is so beautiful. I am sure you will love it.

As to your first question, you may want to check with our Cancer Information Helpline at 1-888-939-3333 ( though I understand that may not work from the UK ) . You can also try to connect with the Cancer care in Nova Scotia - http://www.nshealth.ca/cancer-care

I am sure others from Nova Scotia will jump in to share their experience with care in Nova Scotia, keeping in mind we have a policy of not naming doctors or hospitals on the site.

I look forward to your updates.


7 Posts

@Boater Hi Boater! I am a Nova Scotian but presently in Mexico. Will be returning to NS when feasible. First off, here is a link to the NS Health Authority Wait Times. One reason we are still in Mexico is there is NO wait time when using the Private Health care system in Mexico. You will be responsible for covering health care costs initially. The NS Health Authority site should be able to give you most of the info you will need.

NS is a great province, lots of artists, beautiful, and very friendly. The farther away you are from Halifax the fewer health care options there are. Many residents travel from Digby to Halifax for specialty services. Something to consider. Residents requiring immunotherapy for lymphoma have been travelling to Boston. Also check into how long it will take to get access to our health care coverage.

9 Posts

Thanks Lianne and Gail

That's sounds like helpful information that I'll dig into.

In Nova Scotia we could register with the health system as soon as we are resident. (It's different in each province, so in New Brunswick, for example, we'd have to cover our health for the first three months.)

Are cancer patients really made to wait for treatment?

12 Posts

No, in my experience for Inflammatory breast cancer over the past year , I was never made to wait for any treatments. In fact, I was impressed with the level of care and attention I have been given and can’t thank my health team enough and the NS cancer Center in Halifax.

7 Posts

@Boater I am pretty certain that after you register you will still have to wait three months to have your health care expenses covered. Even permanent residents who leave the province for 7 months have to wait three months for expense coverage to kick in after we return. This is why we snowbird.:-)

7 Posts

@Cdn That is good to hear!!! The wait time list is scary.

15 Posts

Hey@Boater, I live in Nova Scotia and am currently doing treatments for Breast Cancer. The wait times are long here for some care( ie knee replacements etc), but in mine and extended friends and family experiences with cancer care the delays have not been apparent. Truth the hub of care is in Halifax however I have a friend who lives on the South Shore who has her monthly IV care in home with a nurse. My husband and I often say our healthcare needs fixing more for regular care however,seem to for critical care,to get it done. We are blessed with natural beauty, ocean/beaches galore and a true appreciation of an artists soul❤️ Take care and wishing you well in your info gathering❤️

9 Posts

Thanks GailHM for the wait times list. It gives me an idea of times for different procedures – although lymphoma of any type doesn't seem to appear on any of the lists or within the search engine database.

I'm not sure, but I think the Canadian health system generally is more ‘up front’, or transparent, with information like that, whereas here in the UK it's built-in. For example, the wait for a PET scan seems lengthy looking at the list, but if consultants here know that you'll probably need one after chemo about 6 month down the line, they build it in, but without giving you details as to what the waiting list is. Transparency is good.

I'm beginning to assume that I'll need to travel to Halifax for maintenance treatment, and count myself lucky if I could get it more locally. So, will probably need to factor in hotel expenses and such. With this latest Covid variant, we'll be lucky to get over there before I finish maintenance anyway!

The novascotia.ca website says this about healthcare and newcomers to the province:

If you are a returning Canadian Citizen or a returning "Permanent Resident" moving permanently to Nova Scotia from outside Canada, MSI will provide first day coverage. https://novascotia.ca/dhw/MSI/moving_travel.asp

But clearly we would check this closely beforehand.

I find it reassuring what some of you other folk are saying about your own experiences there. It seems cancer is taken seriously … but like many places healthcare has many pressures on it that result in less than optimum access to doctors, equipment, hospital beds, and community care people and facilities.

Thanks again.

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