“Everything started the night of Friday, November 18, to Saturday, November 19. I was brushing my teeth when I noticed some blood on my toothbrush. The week went by, and several other symptoms appeared: fatigue, migraines, night sweats, nosebleeds, enlarged nodes and extreme leg pain. I went to the clinic and was diagnosed with a sinus infection. My symptoms continued to worsen, and I knew that it was more than a sinus infection.
I went to see my family doctor who, surprised by my very pale complexion, prescribed a blood test and four days of sick leave. A few hours later, following the results of my blood test, the doctor called me himself to ask me to go to the clinic immediately. His tone was worrying and serious. I was panicking. I went to the clinic with my boyfriend Matthieu, who had lost his cousin to leukemia five years earlier. In 18 years, this was the first time in my life that I felt the fear of being powerless against life.
Diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, I was taken to Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital, where I ended up in an isolation room because I couldn’t be in contact with any viruses. I felt confused and trapped and had no idea what to expect. The nurses had to hold me down to insert the catheter because I was so terrified, I was shaking. After five days of emergency hospitalization, I was able to change rooms to go to the fifth floor for a minimum of four to six weeks. This is when I knew that I was really sick.
My first morning on the fifth floor was rather eventful. The nurses gave me injectable Dilaudid, which is very different from the pill version. Afterwards, I had an MRI, and then I went to Nuclear Medicine to have a thoracic scan. A few days later, I met a woman in the waiting room who had been diagnosed with the same disease that I had. I sensed that there was hope. I felt good for the first time in five days.
A little later that same day, I had a bone marrow aspiration, which consisted of someone sticking a needle the size of a pen into my bone. An hour later, they gave me a lumbar puncture. I felt like a part of me was being removed. I stayed shut in a room for 25 days. I was allowed to leave for three hours per week, but it was for going to see other doctors.
I spent Christmas at the hospital with my whole family. I was discharged from the hospital on December 27, but I continued to have short stays there for my treatment.
On March 17, I got great news: my bone marrow biopsy showed that I no longer had any trace of cancer! Two years ago, my leukemia was incurable. Today a treatment exists, and I’m cured. If organizations like the UFCW didn’t give their time and money, I would not have been able to heal.”