In the teeth, sclerosis
Caroline Gauvin was 27 years old when she appeared before the doctor, the news was not good.
S clérose sclerosis.
“When you receive this diagnosis, it is quite a shock, the image that immediately comes to your mind is the wheelchair …” It was just before Christmas. “I had studied this disease in my occupational therapy courses, it was very difficult to accept for me, for my parents, and for everyone. It was a very ordinary holiday. ”
But, accept or not, the disease was there.
She had made a first “push” in the fall, she woke up one morning with the left side completely numb from head to toe, she put it on the account of a bad position during her sleep. “The next morning, it was still there. I went to the emergency room, I was prescribed magnetic resonance. ”
When she saw the neurologist again, he spoke of an “isolated clinical syndrome”, not sclerosis. “It takes two pushes to confirm the diagnosis.
The second push didn’t take long.
Then the third.
The first drug she tried had no effect. “I was really not well. In my head, my life was over, nothing good could happen to me. I fell into a hollow. ”She tried other drugs, only one managed to mitigate the relapses.
Life sometimes making things curiously, Caroline met her boyfriend about the same time that she was diagnosed. “But I was on the defensive, I couldn’t imagine that someone could love me with the disease, it was something that seemed impossible.”
And they talked baby. “We thought about adoption, we also looked at whether it was possible for me to have a pregnancy. We tried it, we had to stop the drugs, I had a six-month window… I got pregnant on the first try! I had a great pregnancy, a great birth. ”
Sclerosis left her alone.
Her daughter was born in December 2013, the symptoms gradually returned, first the headaches, then the flares, more intense than ever. “In 2015, it was push over push, they were closer together, more serious, I had spasms, I was walking with a cane … my neurologist was discouraged.”
Until he called it in the summer of 2016, “right in the middle of the construction vacation.” My boyfriend is in construction. ”
At the end of the line, Dr. François Émond. “He said to me: ‘everything you try, it doesn’t work. The fire is in your head, I’m afraid that the next push will be the one that will leave you with a handicap ”. He offered me a cell transplant, it didn’t work in Quebec, just in Ottawa [and in Winnipeg], he told me “I have nothing else” … ”
The treatment in question is called immunoablation followed by an autologous stem cell transplant, in other words, the immune system is completely destroyed to rebuild it from scratch.
Caroline took the road to Ottawa.
He was first removed from cells in October 2016. “They removed the disease from the cells. In January, I had eight chemotherapy treatments, and when my immune system was ready, they restored my cells to me. ”She had to stay in hospital for five weeks, three months in Ottawa, two months without seeing her daughter.
Without her parents and relatives, she would not have succeeded.
And then, as if by a miracle, the disease went away. “I never had any symptoms of the disease again, no more flare-ups, no sequelae.”
She had to stay on leave at home while her natural defenses were rebuilt. “I was at home, it was starting to be a long time ago, I was looking for a goal to achieve, something to feel alive … and I entered the half-marathon in Quebec!”
She put on her sneakers, ran out to the street. “No one around me really believed it, they saw me walking with a cane … There is just my boyfriend who believed it, who told me that if I wanted to, I would do it. I met a friend who was also running and we ran together, we went on the bike path, it was better than on the street. I ran three or four times a week, sometimes two hours, sometimes half an hour, I didn’t really have a plan. ”
Aside from achieving its goal.
She reached it. “My cousin came down from Montreal to see me, my parents were there, boyfriend… I was so proud! Sometimes I talked to her about illness, I said to her: “You will not have me” and when I crossed the finish line, the first thing I thought about was “in my teeth , sclerosis! ”, I was able to prove to the whole world that I was still alive, still capable.”
It was not the most important. “I could prove it to myself.”
For her 40th birthday, Caroline would like to be able to run a marathon, it falls in 2021. “I keep running for fun, to keep myself in shape. I want to do two half-marathons this year, to see if it’s achievable. As long as I have fun, I will continue. ”
To get there, Caroline only needed a first stride.
And she was going away.