Stories of children and their loved ones

Stéphanie Vigneau

Cured of acute lymphoblastic leukemia

I do not usually talk about myself in public, but seeing Charlie’s testimony inspired me to write to you.

“Quand je serai grand, je serai guéri!” is the book with which I made the biggest progress on my illness when I was younger. It helped me tremendously. I laughed, I cried, I smiled, but most of all, I learned and I understood, that we, children having passed through leukemia are strong. How we have so much determination and a special outlook on life! We get older. Sometimes too early and too fast, but it teaches us a lot. It’s inexplicable.

I was born on March 9, 1990 … Charles had died two years earlier. When I read this sentence while reading the book, it shook me. I do not know why or how, but it gave me chills.

14 October 1990, the diagnosis falls. I am transferred to Québec City by air ambulance and my parents by regular flight, we meet again at the CHUL. I was in critical condition and my parents were in distress. Dr. Linda Brisson utters one terrible word … leukemia. No! It’s impossible!

We are from and have always lived in the Magdalen Islands. This is not next door, but it had become our reality. In short, after my diagnosis, the treatment plan was 104 chemotherapy treatments planned over the course of two years. That’s how the countless roundtrips got started. Leaving most of the time my big sister, in the good hands of our family members. After the series of chemotherapy treatments, I received prophylactic radiotherapy treatments to kill the potentially recidivist strains.

Through these many visits to the hospital, there have been ups and downs. Despite my young age, I never gave up! The love of my parents and relatives and the support of doctors and nurses are important. I am very grateful to them today.

It is towards the end of 1993, beginning of 1994, that the remission begins. Frequent follow-ups with both my CHUL hemato-oncologist and my family doctor to make sure everything was fine.

It was in the Summer of 1997 that Dr. Brisson announced my recovery! Yes! Healed! Wow! I was screaming and jumping with joy. The feeling was indescribable.

When I was 10 years old, at a regular check-up, Dr. Brisson gave me a lucky charm with our names engraved on the inside. What a gift! I still have it and will always cherish it. She has unfortunately left the position of pediatric oncologist. How sad to never have seen her again.

I tell you this little part of my story, because it reminds me how important the relationship of trust and attachment with the attending physician is to the child and their family. It is precious. Dr. Pastore reminds me a bit of Dr. Brisson in his relationship with little Charlie. She used to tell me the same thing: “Everything will be fine.”

I will never forget what she did for me, for my parents.

On May 22, 2012, Dr. Michon, a pediatrician who was following me on occasion, told me that my file was completely closed in hematology and oncology. Phew! What joy, what pride, what relief and all the memories.

The journey of a child with leukemia transforms their life, their body, their soul and infuses them with incredible strength and determination that no one can understand.

Life seems beautiful to us with very little things, in simplicity, and the joy of living and fighting despite everything, makes these little beings, great champions.

The Charles-Bruneau Foundation brings smiles to the faces of children with cancer. It is precious. Just like our health.

Stéphanie Vigneau

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