The Medal of Courage is a national award presented to a Canadian Cancer Society volunteer who has demonstrated exceptional courage in their personal battle with cancer and serves as an inspiration and role model to others. This year the prestigious award goes to Susan Taylor.
In January 2013 Susan Taylor’s husband, Maynard Simpson, was diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus. Susan and Maynard, both farmers, live in Economy, Nova Scotia – a 300km round trip from Halifax where he would receive treatment. Soon after diagnosis they learned that they were $238 over the income threshold for the Provincial Boarding, Transportation and Ostomy program and would not qualify for this support. Although they stayed at the Lodge that Gives, the financial burden of travelling to and from Halifax was more that they could afford.
Susan immediately saw injustice in this system and was determined to fix it. While Maynard was receiving treatment, Susan started a letter writing campaign and alerted her MLAs of the situation. Toward the end of Maynard’s treatment Susan went to the legislature and hand-delivered her letters to each of the party leaders.
After several weeks of Susan’s persistent lobbying, the provincial government agreed to make an exception for Maynard. Susan’s lobbying however did not stop there. She was determined to be a voice for others who had not had an opportunity to speak about this issue. While Maynard was recovering, Susan relentlessly campaigned about this issue making countless phone calls, writing additional letters and meeting with MLA’s in attempt to bring more attention to the financial burden cancer patient’s face. Where many would hesitate to speak publicly about such a sensitive and personal issue, on numerous occasions both Susan and Maynard told their story.
During the last Nova Scotia election, Susan became frustrated with the lack of media coverage on the BTO program funding issue. When most people would have given up, Susan did the opposite. She called and spoke to every executive producer at every single news outlet in Nova Scotia, resulting in CBC News Nova Scotia picking up the story and running two headline stories on the BTO issue.
Despite eventually qualifying for the BTO program, Susan and Maynard remained adamant that the income threshold be lowered, so that many other Nova Scotians could receive the support they needed. Susan’s passion and courage have been inspiring to all of those around her. She demonstrated compassion for others she knew would be facing the same financial burden when seeking treatment, persevered when many would have given up, and ultimately demonstrated courage and conviction in an effort to motivate change.
On behalf of The Canadian Cancer Society Nova Scotia Division, we honour Susan for her inspiration and courage. She is truly a role model to us. Congratulations Susan on receiving the prestigious Medal of Courage.