Testimonials

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


When cancer calls, you answer!

We met in December – December 2nd at 4:33 pm to be exact.
 
You weren’t on my agenda that day. We didn’t have an appointment. We didn’t even know each other; we weren’t Facebook friends or anything.
 
You whispered in my ear then moved down to my belly like an earthquake. And you’ve been there ever since. You went on to take over my whole agenda and my life, cancelling all other bookings along the way. No more agenda…this is where I get off. Hurry up and start praying, Josée! It’s now or never.
 
You came into my life without warning. But was it ever really mine? Who does life belong to anyway? It seems to be more of a loan – and a very temporary one at that.
 

Why me?

 
What started with “why me?” quickly turned into “why not me?”  Who am I to think that I should be any less vulnerable than anyone else? And when it comes right down to it, none of this can be rationalized. You just live the present moment to the full. One day, one moment, one instant at a time, trying to connect more deeply than ever with the Source - with what is.
 
The journey I started was imposed on me. I was pushed into it. Slowly but surely, it began. One step ahead, two steps back. Slowing down to take the time to grow. My disease – a gift of life in ugly packaging. Oh how I danced with you, at times gracefully, at others, not at all. 
 
Focusing on what matters most became the only priority…like a visceral need to take advantage of each instant with the people I love. And a growing need to connect, more than ever, with our existential aloneness. It has come to my attention that the only person who will be there for the rest of my existence is ME.
 
From the acute awareness of life’s finite nature comes the urgent desire to live. Thus begins the search for the source of oneness, for connection and for the True Self.
 
From the onset of symptoms to the uncertainty, you wait.
From the investigation to the diagnosis, you wait.
From the start of treatments to your new normal, you wait.
From the educated guess to the final verdict, you wait.
From readjusting to life, you wait and wait and wait some more.
 
Because the word “cancer” still flows through my veins. But who am I, really? Just me. That’s all. Yes, that’s it! I AM! I exist and that’s an awesome privilege.
 

Three years later

 
So, Josée Parent-Bellevance, three years later, what’s left, what have you learned?
 
Even with no active signs present, I still have to learn to live with cancer. It’s in my cells, my veins; it’s part of my life now. And I never know when it may decide to show up again.
 
It’s always there, but it fades a little, day by day. The rebuilding has started; a rebirth is happening. There’s now a pressing need to pull out of the rat race for want of true meaning.
 
Gently, slowly, life goes on. Thank you, life, because without that poorly wrapped gift, I would not be who I am today and who I am becoming. I’ve been given an extension on my life loan. What a wonderful privilege it is to be alive, to breathe and to feel.
 
I invite you to use the life lent to you to give or receive what matters most:
 
A smile from a stranger
Compassion for someone smaller than you
Time to enjoy the sunshine
A thank you full of gratitude
Space to accept what is, without judgement
A charitable disposition toward others
Quality time with people who matter most to you
A meal with friends
A warm hug that says it all
A reassuring presence
Reaching out to someone in need
Silence that speaks volumes 
And if you’re looking for something to do with your money, give to a cause that’s close to your heart. But only if it’s what your heart desires, because the heart never lies.
 
Let’s just say for a second, just for argument’s sake, that life gives you a call to remind you of the temporary arrangement you have with it. What would you do?
Because behind every cancer, there’s a real person.
Because behind every person, there’s a story.
 
Thank you, life, for allowing me to continue paying it forward.
 
I’d like to extend my compassion to all of you, no matter what journey you are on right now.
 
Here’s to you, life!
 
Josée Parent-Bellavance – 3
Cancer – 0
 
Josée Parent-Bellavance
 
Diagnosed with endometrial cancer at 35
Participant in Compostelle en tandem in 2015
Massage therapist specializing in massages for people with cancer and their loved ones and now member of the massage therapy team at the Quebec Cancer Foundation. 
 

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