Relive the experiences described in the inspiring stories told by people close to the foundation.
Johanne Philipps

A half-marathon, life’s greatest challenge, for me!

I have always looked after myself, I’m active, a non-smoker and still, one fine morning, I discovered a lump that was to become my worst nightmare. In September 2014, I received the news that I had breast cancer.

The year before, I had managed, just barely, to complete Montreal’s Oasis Rock 'n' Roll 10-km race and there had met a woman in remission from cancer. She had run the same distance as I. When I was diagnosed, I thought a lot about that woman and told myself that I was going to keep on running, I was going to step up and follow her example. And I knew, because I had been reading on the topic, that physical exercise would be helpful to me during my illness.

I had been told of the kinesiology service at the Quebec Cancer Foundation. I had first phoned their information line when I wanted to learn more about my cancer and know what to expect. Seeing that I was interested in being active, the Info-cancer Line nurse advised me to contact Denis Jolicoeur, the kinesiologist in Montreal. So I made an appointment with him to see how he might help me.

At our first meeting, Denis assessed my physical condition and developed a program adapted to my needs in view of my coming surgery. After the operation, he gave me exercises to do in order to recover the full range of motion in my arm. Meanwhile, I kept running to manage all the stress of the situation. It did me a lot of good and the kinesologist encouraged me to continue on this path. Once my surgery was finished, and once I felt I was again in command of life, I spoke with Denis about my big project: doing the Montreal half-marathon in September 2015.

While giving his full support to the spirit of my endeavour, Denis listened and encouraged me, while also tempering somewhat my enthusiasm! He reminded me that first we would get past my treatments and afterward begin to train for the race. He was right, of course, because hormone therapy was exhausting for me. Even though I had previously been very physically active, I still had to go back to square one. I would run for one minute and be totally depleted. That discouraged me, but Denis was there to support and motivate me all through the process. He gave me good advice, telling me not only  to focus on my objective but also to enjoy my training, to take pleasure in the present moment.

Despite the many upsetting events during my long months in training, I continued plodding ahead, one step at a time and finally succeeded in getting to the finish line in 2 hours, 57 minutes, 54 and 2 hundredths of a second! I had attained my goal, but had, at the same time and more especially, lived through a great spiritual adventure, since I had learned to listen to my body and to live every moment to the full. I owe my victory, in large part, to Denis Jolicoeur and the Quebec Cancer Foundation, which offers free kinesiology services to people with cancer. It’s a remarkable service that helped me to feel better, to get back on my feet, so to speak, more rapidly and to bring my half-marathon dream to reality!

Finally, I would also like to thank Lucie Sarrasin, the Foundation’s art therapist, who guided me in my artistic undertakings and helped to focus my emotions throughout my ordeal. Her kindness and listening ear were for me a source of great comfort.

Johanne Philipps

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