Honouring a Father's Memory

Honouring a Father's Memory

An Ottawa law student by day and volunteer by night, Mireille Renaud is determined to turn pain into a purpose. As part of the large community of Canadians with a loved one touched by a brain tumour, Mireille now finds herself building connections with others because of this all-too common disease.

Mireille is part of a large family team who are active in Spring Sprint  (now Brain Tumour Walk) in memory of their father, Yvon, a judge with the Ontario Court of Justice in Sudbury, who heroically battled a Glioblastoma, the most aggressive type of primary brain tumor. Sadly, Yvon passed away December 11, 2010 just one day before his 57th birthday.

Along with her brothers Benoît, Justin, and Jean-François the family is coming together in his memory. Mireille explains, “Losing our dad was hard on all of us. It just happened so fast and I’m still getting used to the new normal,” says Mireille. “Before this all happened I never knew about brain tumours. We’ve had to turn the pain into a purpose. Being part of the Spring Sprint team is a way I’ve been able to channel that energy into good.”

Mireille recalls that it was her younger brother who first noticed that something was wrong with her dad in September 2009; he was holding things backwards and searching for words. Then all of a sudden, he was nauseous and the physical symptoms were very clear.

“One day my uncle was here and asked my dad to write out the alphabet and he couldn’t. They took him to a medical clinic right away and then emergency and that’s where they discovered a mass on his brain,” recalls Mireille. “We knew it was aggressive and they took 98 percent of the tumour out and then dad underwent six weeks of radiation therapy followed by ongoing chemotherapy.”

Their family was optimistic. Yvon would walk the six to eight kilometers a day to and from his treatments and went back to work. Then in May 2010 the tumour returned and Yvon underwent his second surgery. A third tumour was found in September 2010 and surgery performed in October. Following complications with the surgery, Yvon entered into an induced coma. “He didn’t wake up,” laments Mireille.

While her family was devastated, Mireille offers words of kindness and encouragement to others whose lives are affected by brain tumours: “It’s very difficult because brain tumours affect people in so many different ways. Unlike other cancers, brain tumours can changes people’s character. What I would say is to remember them the way they were.”

Mireille also notes that for her, “the most important point was to focus the anger and frustration towards positive channels. For the second year in a row my brothers and I are playing a fundraising concert in support of Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada’s Spring Sprint.

It’s important to connect with others who share a similar experience and to work towards finding a cure.” Mireille is also part of the organizing committee for the June Spring Sprint in Ottawa, looking after logistics and fundraising.

Now she hopes others will step up to help the fight. “I guess like anyone else who’s been affected and involved; my hope is that we find a cure. It’s such a devastating disease and it tears families apart. I hope one day it stops hurting families like it hurt us. Funds go to support research and Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada’s services, and that’s what we need,” says Mireille.

“Life has definitely changed in the last year and a half. Losing our dad was hard on all of us. It just happened so fast and I’m still getting used to the new normal,” says Mireille. “Before this all happened I never knew about brain tumours but we have turned the pain into a purpose.

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Story posted: May 2011

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