Rachelle Pharand - Montreal

Rachelle Pharand

Montreal QC

In March 2018, at the age of 16, I was diagnosed with stage 2A Bulky Hodgkin lymphoma. What I initially thought I was going to see a doctor was for a cold or bronchitis, it was cancer. Quickly I was consulted at the Reproductive Center of the MUHC to start egg preservation treatments, as the chemotherapy treatments to come could affect my fertility. A few days later, my battle against cancer began. After four rounds of chemotherapy, I was very happy to be in remission.

Unfortunately, September 2018, 2 months after finishing my treatments, I learned that my cancer was back. I had to drop out of school again to focus on my treatments that were long and strenuous on the body. After two cycles of chemotherapy, December 26, 2018 I was hospitalized for intensive chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant. It was a very difficult week for me, but I was lucky enough to have simple little things in my days that brought me happiness, like taking a motorized bath in the Oncology Unit of the Montreal Children’s Hospital.

After 20 sessions of radiation therapy in the outpatient clinic, I was able to return to High School in March 2019 and started maintenance chemotherapy. Thanks to research, I was the first patient at the Montreal’s Children’s Hospital to receive an innovative treatment to minimize the risk of a second recurrence. This chemotherapy ended almost a year later, March 2020, when I was in my first year of college.

When you have cancer, you lose a lot, but you also gain. This ordeal allowed me to find what I wanted to do in life, become a nurse. I looked at the positive side of being in the hospital; during my maintenance treatment sessions, I used that time to study for my biology classes and ask questions to the hospital staff. At the moment, I am proud to say that I am in my second year of my Nursing Program and an intern at the CHUM.

In situations like this, it is important to find something positive to motivate yourself to move forward. For me, this is a phrase I repeated myself from the start of my treatments and with the approval from my doctors, I got it tattooed on my body: LIFE IS GOOD.