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On a Thursday in November 2013, I visited my family doctor because of a sinusitis. I had an X-ray of my sinuses and lungs as a routine check-up. The next day, towards the end of the day, I received a call from my doctor informing me that I had lung cancer and that he was immediately transferring my file to Quebec’s Institut universitaire de cardiologie et de pneumologie. I was devastated and had a blackout. How could that be possible? I was active and in great shape, I swam every morning and walked for an hour every day! I had an awful weekend asking myself all kinds of questions and imagining the worst.
The next Monday, I had a scan in a private clinic where they confirmed that a ganglion was affected. I was in shock… A call from the hospital two days later confirmed that they would manage my case. For two months, I underwent a series of tests to find out if an operation was possible. In the end, 2 very difficult chemotherapy sessions were necessary to try to eliminate the ganglion in order to perform the operation. I can’t say enough good things about the staff who were with me during these 2 treatments. My nurse and the pharmacists were incredible, and very caring. I went through this difficult process hoping to have surgery, but after a scan, I received bad news: the ganglion had grown, and the operation was uncertain and rather risky… I was in despair.
That’s when I met surgeon Paula Ugalde. She hugged me and assured she would do everything she could, without guarantee, of course. I have hope again. The operation was set for March 2014. Dr. Ugalde told my husband: «If you don’t hear from me within 30 to 45 minutes, it’s a sign that everything is fine». The operation, which was supposed to take three and a half hours, finally lasted eight hours, but the surgeon was very satisfied considering the risk it presented. My case was so unusual that Dr. Ugalde shared my story at a congress in Brazil a few days later. I spent a week at the Institut before beginning 16 weeks of chemotherapy to make sure I didn’t have any cancer cells left.
Six years later, I am perfectly healthy, and I thank life for the chance to live happily with my lover and to see my children and grandchildren grow up. I thank the staff of the Institut for all the care they provided, for their kindness, their support, their humanity and their delicacy.
Since then, I have wanted to help people with lung disease in a dynamic setting. The Quebec Lung Association is the organization I was looking for from the start. A dynamic, dedicated team that stops at nothing to bring physical support and comfort to patients, that is what motivates me and makes me eager to help them.
Marylène Sacy Reeves