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Leah: A Member’s Story

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the direction from the government advising Canadians not to travel, we have temporarily paused all new travel policy sales. For more information, visit the RSA FAQ page.

We encourage you to regularly visit the Government of Canada’s Travel Advice and Advisories page for the most up-to-date information.

The following is based on an actual customer’s experience.

I’m very excited to tell people about my experience with a health emergency when I was on vacation earlier this year, and how wonderful my "angels" at Sun Life have been. Here goes!

I live with my husband, Josh, and daughter, Molly, who is 16, in Alberta. Josh works in the oilfield, and he busts his butt for Molly and I, so this past March I figured he needed a nice break, so I planned a trip for us all to the Dominican Republic. My parents have a vacation home there – much deserved after their years of hard work and raising my 3 siblings and I – so we flew down to join them for a couple of weeks. My aunt from Nova Scotia also happened to be there visiting as well, so it was going to be a great family visit for everyone.

It was about 3 days into the trip when the trouble started. I became really nauseated, and wasn’t able to eat or drink. I figured it must have been some bad ice or something; I couldn’t keep anything down for a few days, until finally I couldn’t take it anymore and we went to the Cabarete Medical Center (CMC) in Sosua. They quickly brought me to a bed where I could rest, but by this point I was in great pain and agony in my abdomen. I spoke with a couple of doctors, who poked and prodded my tummy to try to determine where exactly the pain was coming from. They took blood tests and I also was given ultrasounds. Finally, the surgeon came to my room and announced to my family and me, “We have good news and bad news.” The good news was that I was pregnant! But the bad news was that my appendix had to come out right away; the doctors had discovered multiple ovarian cysts and they concluded that one had broken off and that its fluid had caused appendicitis.

After an overnight stay in this wonderful hospital – it really felt like more of a hotel than a hospital, it was brand new and absolutely beautiful – I had the surgery. The doctors and everyone else were absolutely great, and so helpful and lovely regardless of the language barrier. Afterwards, nurses came to check on me at all hours of the day, asking if I needed anything at all, how I was feeling, etc. And although after I had the surgery I was in a bit of recovery pain, I felt better now than I had in almost a week, so I did not mind being there at all.

I ended up having to stay in the hospital for the next 6 days until they said I was okay to go back to my parents’ condo, but the surgeon didn't approve my flying until another week later. That meant I had to change my flight, but the travel agency couldn’t get me a refund. My dad had to use his air miles, plus pay an extra $450, to get me a flight home, as my husband and I didn't have all of the funds to cover another flight for me. I couldn’t get a seat on a flight to Calgary, so I ended up booking a flight to Halifax so I could be on the same plane with my aunt, who was returning to Canada at that time.

Then I got a call from a wonderful lady named Leona. She absolutely made my day and my week, and took a lot of stress off me and my family as she explained that the travel insurance provided by Sun Life through my husband’s work benefits was able to cover the flights home. She tried to find me a flight to Calgary but wasn’t able to, so we stuck with the original plan of my going to Halifax, but she found me a flight from Halifax to Calgary for the morning after. Sun Life also covered the cost of a “nurse angel” (as I like to call her!) from Toronto to the Dominican Republic. Her name was Min-Ju Evans, or MJ, as she wanted me to call her. She got the last available seat on my flight to Halifax and flew out with me. MJ even spoke with the airline staff – it was Air Canada — and got them to allow us to sit in first class, because I was recovering from surgery and she was caring for me.

This was exciting because this was the first time I've ever flown first class and I was blown away by the comfort and convenience of everything, especially in my condition. The on-board crew were very sympathetic and extremely helpful. We arrived in Halifax, where Sun Life had also covered the cost of 2 hotel rooms for the night at an airport hotel, and then we headed out to Calgary the next day. When we arrived, I thanked my nurse angel MJ for everything she had done for me. I couldn’t be more appreciative of her and of Sun Life for sending her to my rescue – and bringing me home, safe and healthy, to Canada.

Ever since my experience, I've been praising Sun Life and thanking God every day for Josh's group work insurance benefits through Sun Life. Everybody I tell my vacation story to, I make sure they know how important it is to have travel insurance before they travel.

I owe a lot to Sun Life. This was the first time I've had to use this type of insurance, and it was also my first major surgery. Sun Life was able to take SO MUCH stress off of my husband, myself and, particularly, my parents. They were extremely stressed about my health and getting me home safe and sound to Canada, without also having the worry of having to fork over an arm and a leg (along with my appendix, LOL!) So, I thank Sun Life again from the bottom of my heart.

I've been home and resting and have been doing great. We can’t wait until the end of November when our family will expand and we’ll welcome one more little one into this world.