“Cancer in her lungs and bone marrow. Stage 4.” The most advanced stage there is. These were the doctor’s words on March 27, 2017. And to think, Joanna-Laura thought her appointment at Sainte-Justine was for a simple backache!

Her story began on March 27, 2017. “Cancer in her lungs and bone marrow. Stage 4. The most advanced stage there is.” These were the doctor’s words. And to think, Joanna-Laura thought her appointment at Sainte-Justine was for a simple backache! The verdict was a real blow. Joanna-Laura’s cancer was spreading very, very fast. Two days after her diagnosis, she began chemotherapy treatment. 

For a year, Joanna-Laura fought for her life. And her mother wanted to fight the battle right alongside her daughter. But being there for Joanna-Laura while also supporting her three other children meant that she could no longer work. As a single mother, it became impossible to balance work, family and her daughter’s illness, all while remaining strong and serene during a time of such emotional turmoil. So she had to make the difficult decision to quit her job. Which meant the holiday season wasn’t what she had hoped for her family. 

The generosity of donors was paramount to them. It helped to provide Joanna-Laura with the best possible care, care which is enhanced through the presence and love of a parent.

It’s thanks to such kind-hearted people that we were able to benefit from the support of the Social Services team at Sainte-Justine, so we could stay afloat, personally and financially. It was essential, since it made it possible for me to stay by my daughter’s side and be with her on her journey to getting better. 

Marie-Catruche Jean-François

Joanna-Laura’s mom
2018 09 11 09190105 Photo By Arianne Bergeron
Joanna-Laura with her mother, Marie-Catruche and her social worker, Suzanne. Photo: © Arianne Bergeron

I’ll never forget the time that Joanna-Laura’s mother experienced a dramatic drop in blood pressure. Exhausted from trying to juggle work, family life and her daughter’s illness, her body had sent her a clear signal: she could no longer maintain such a pace. I see it—and experience it—every year: the holidays at Sainte-Justine tend to raise the anxiety level of families struggling to cope with their child’s illness.

Suzanne Laplante

Social worker at the CHU Sainte-Justine

Back to square one

Up until a few days ago, Joanna-Laura and her family were still using the word that they had so hoped for all through this terrible ordeal: remission. “After a year of treatment, my daughter was in remission. I cried tears of joy. If you could only imagine! Keïsha, Jonathan-Jayson and Malia Abigaëlle had their mentor back, their inspiring big sister, healthy and stronger than ever.” But today, it’s back to square one. 

In November, Joanna-Laura learned that the awful cancer she fought so bravely had returned in one of her lungs. 

Just when she was starting to get back on her feet, Joanna-Laura’s mother had to once again stop working in order to devote all her time, love and energy to taking care of her eldest daughter, along with her other three children. With the holidays drawing near, more than ever she is grateful for the generosity of donors, which allows her to hope for a cure for her daughter for a second time. It gives her the strength to face the illness with resilience. 

From the bottom of my heart, thank you to the extended Sainte-Justine family for their precious help. Believe me, knowing that people support us brings us hope and comfort, even more so during the holidays.

Marie-Catruche Jean-François

Joanna-Laura’s mom

For the hundreds of families who need you, thank you. Thank you for offering them a moment of respite. 

In support of the children and families who will be spending the holidays at the hospital this year, let your lights of hope shine in the Sainte-Justine Tree of Lights.

Let’s make life brighter for all of them!

Light Up the Tree

Concrete actions made possible in 2017 thanks to the generosity of donors 

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