Seven years ago, at the age of 32, I was diagnosed with low-grade oligodendroglioma—a 7-centimetre tumour in my brain that was detected following a partial epileptic seizure. What made the shock even greater was that there was no history in my family of the disease nor any prior warning symptoms. I was just a busy mom, sharing my time between family and work.
When things like this happen to you, you have two options: either live in fear and pain or live in love and gratitude. And I chose the latter. I’ve always remained positive.
I found it was difficult to talk to anyone close about my cancer because of how it affected the entire family. My first thought was of my children. I didn’t want to show them I was sick. I wanted to spare them my pain. I was especially afraid of not seeing them grow up, since the youngest one was just 3 years old at the time. There was also the announcement to my parents. They were really shaken to learn that their child was so ill.
I spent five years with no surgery or treatment. It was during that time that I first heard of the Quebec Cancer Foundation, through my pivot nurse. After visiting their premises in their Regional Centre in Gatineau, I decided to volunteer there.
Then, last year, after lots of research on the subject and discussions with health professionals, I finally made the decision to be operated on (under conscious sedation) at Fleurimont Hospital in Sherbrooke by the renowned Dr. Fortin.
Since I live in the Outaouais region, I had to make the trip to the Eastern Townships with my father and sister, who accompanied me. The day before the operation, I stayed at the Quebec Cancer Foundation Lodge in Sherbrooke which is linked directly to the hospital. I was able to stay in the chambre à Félix, which is specially designed for young adults. It was fabulous, a beautiful gift before my operation. That was how I learned Felix’s story, which touched me very deeply.
My father and sister were also lodged at the Foundation for a week while I was in hospital. The fact that the Foundation also provides accommodation for your loved ones is priceless!
They have nothing but good things to say about the Foundation. The services offered were exceptional, the rooms were clean, the welcome was warm, and the staff were attentive. To us, the Foundation was a little gem along the way through that very difficult situation. The support my family received was immense. Feeling so helpless and powerless in the face of my illness, they were able to express their emotions with other residents who were going through a similar experience and with the staff.
The Foundation also provided a wealth of information, not just to me but also to my family.
The operation was covered by the media—among the 20 people present in the operating room was a film crew from Radio-Canada! — went well. After a period of convalescence, I picked up my life where I had left it, in Gatineau, closer to my three children. I now feel more than ever how extremely beautiful life is!
Today, I would say that cancer hasn’t changed me, it’s brought me back to who I am. And although no one experiences the disease in the same way, I now try to help people who are going through the same ordeal and try to show them a positive way of living it, as the Foundation did so well for me and those closest to me.