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

The power of listening

Most people are unaware of the side effects of cancer treatments. Yet some can remain with you for the rest of your life. That's what happened to me. The side effects of my breast cancer and treatments (chemotherapy, radiotherapy and others) took away much of the mobility in my left arm. They didn’t tell me a lot about this hidden aspect of cancer and its treatment implications, which made the shock even more brutal.
Today these after-effects of cancer are particularly disabling in my daily life: my spouse had to become my caregiver because moving from one place to the next is so complicated for me. What’s more, I’m unable to work, which puts a great strain on our personal finances.
Throughout the chemotherapy and even now, I’ve never used the word "battle" to describe my story with cancer. Fighting all day long, every day, is so exhausting.
Instead, before each chemo, I would put on a nice little hat and some lipstick. My red "confidence" lipstick. That was my little ritual. And I told myself that receiving chemo is receiving love — because I was one of the lucky ones receiving treatment. Some people are not so lucky.
My second chemo session was on Valentine’s Day. To give me courage, I took some chocolates with me. I called them my "Happiness Chocolates". My idea was to create "little sweet moments" by giving them out to other patients like me who were receiving treatment. I noticed that some chemotherapy patients were alone and I could tell how hard it was for them and how much they suffered. Handing out those, "Happiness Chocolates" gave me an opportunity to chat, laugh, and build relationships.
I later learned that my spouse was doing the same with other patients and their friends and families. And to round off my little tale, on the last day of my radiotherapy treatment, a lady came by to give me some "Happiness Chocolates". I was happy to see that a chain of kindness had been created and was growing day by day. These human moments showed me what a boost the power of mutual aid can do for our happiness and that of others!
During that entire ordeal, I put my own needs aside. I was in survival mode, I felt as if I was caught in a tornado that was tearing apart everything in its path. I was looking desperately for someone or something to hang onto. I just needed a little time to breathe and regain my bearings. I found myself by trying to comfort those around me: finding help for my spouse, looking for ways to pay for unexpected medical expenses for the treatment, managing my medication protocol, scheduling the daily radio treatment appointments, all the while living with the side effects of the treatment. I didn’t have the time or energy to think about myself.

Then it became too difficult and I needed to vent my fears. I felt alone and didn’t know where to turn. That's when I turned to the telephone peer matching programIt was thanks to my sister that I discovered the benefits of this service provided by the Quebec Cancer Foundation. Seeing that I was receiving no assistance, she took the initiative of finding out where I could get the resources I needed.

In early 2019, I was paired with Josée. She had gone through the same ordeal as me, and the mere fact that she had survived helped me a great deal. In all our conversations, she always gave great advice, and was never imposing.

I also took advantage of several of the Foundation’s other services: massage therapy, the dress consultation activity given by a volunteer, the documentation service —a real Christmas present for me!— and the Info-cancer hotline with those great nurses who do such fantastic work listening and giving advice.
Today I would like to become a volunteer for the telephone peer matching program in order to help others, as others have helped me.

Comment on this article