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

“Undergoing chemotherapy in a time of Covid”

Nicole Moreau is a beneficiary of the Quebec Cancer Foundation’s telephone peer matching service. She told us her story, which has been covered by several Quebec media outlets. It's a slice of life and an experience we wanted to share with you.
Following an operation for serious cancer in March 2020, I was informed that it would be best for me to undergo 12 chemotherapy sessions.
Being diagnosed with cancer is life-changing. I used to think that the ads for cancer showing people falling down when they heard their diagnosis were a tad exaggerated. However, when I was diagnosed with cancer, my life has changed profoundly since then. I quickly realized that my "best before date" was getting dangerously close, something that few, even middle-aged people, think about when they enjoy relatively good health. We are all caught up in the whirlwind of life, and we’re all loaded down with all kinds of responsibilities.
Cancer, however, forces us to slow down or even put a halt to activities of every kind. Cancer is scary for everyone and can even drive some of our loved ones away. However, cancer has no impact on our cognitive skills. I’m an adult in full possession of my faculties, one who has always had very diverse interests. I didn’t want to stop being the person I was before my diagnosis. I didn’t want just to talk about cancer, there were other things that continued to interest me. If I can talk about things other than cancer, I know that despite everything, life goes on. My life may have taken a different turn, but I’m still a person in every sense of the word.
Like everyone else, I need people to care about me. In fact, I need that even more than before. I need to be listened to, but I also need to converse with others. I understand that when people want to distance themselves from someone with cancer, it’s a sign of how scary the disease can be. But it’s not a contagious disease.
Living alone when you are active in the job market and have a satisfying social life is one thing. The loneliness of a retired yet active person is something very different. You realize the degree to which work structures your life, whereas in retirement, you are responsible for everything you do. Your actions are decided by initiatives that you take on your own.
In these days of Covid, everyone’s loneliness is exacerbated. There was containment at first and then activities began to be reopened at a very slow pace. As a result, everyone has seen a drop in their social activities, but this is even more so for people with cancer who are undergoing chemotherapy. We know that more than 80% of people in chemotherapy have to deal with the side effects of fatigue. Someone like me, who enjoys reading a lot, has more difficulty doing so, for example. Also, having less energy means doing less physical activity. I used to take long walks of more than 2 hours without effort, now I'm happy with 10 or 15 minutes of walking. Chemotherapy has many other side effects. Nevertheless, I’m still able to make decisions on my own, I don't need to be told what to do and whenever anyone does so, I see it as a lack of respect for the human being that I am.
Encounters with friends and family members have become a rarity, which is one reason for the enormous loneliness I experienced. It also probably played a big part in the anxiety I felt and still feel.
It is clear that cancer and all that is often related to chemotherapy raises important questions about the meaning of life. Posing questions like this, in a society where everything has to be done almost instantaneously, may be bothersome for most people, who don’t really see the point. However, at the end of their days, everyone will have to take stock of their lives in some way.
The one path that is opening for me is fatalism. I have no control over my body or my health (I have led a "healthy lifestyle" for a long time). I have to accept what life will bring me, good or bad. Any kind of "decision" that comes from outside myself seems difficult to accept, but I don't think I have any choice but to submit to the authority of life. It teaches you how humble you have to be in the face of it.
In short, living with cancer and chemotherapy is a particularly difficult challenge.

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