Brittney’s Story: “I hope that one day there will be a cure ..."

Brittney’s Story: “I hope that one day there will be a cure ..."

“I hope that one day there will be a cure because no one should have to go through something as difficult as this, ever.”

When Sudbury student Brittney Rouleau’s father Andre was diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer at the end of April in 2012, she knew she needed to ‘do something’ to help. Very soon she was doing fundraisers for the local cancer centre and before long, word had spread, and the Coordinator of the Sudbury Spring Sprint (now Brain Tumour Walk) was approaching her about opportunities to make a difference for brain tumour patients and families. Today, Brittney is sharing her story in support of the effort to raise awareness and funds for research and patient programs.

The Rouleau family’s journey with a brain tumour starts nearly a year before Andre’s diagnosis. For many months prior, Brittney and her mother were noticing personality and behavior differences in him, “things at home weren’t the same as they used to be,” she remembers. “My dad was changing and we didn’t know why.”

These changes came to a head one morning when Brittney found her father in the bathroom, “he was lost” she says. She called her mom home and together they headed to the emergency room. After a CT scan, the family heard the shocking words ‘brain tumour’. The tumour was large, and located on the frontal lobe of his brain. It was determined to be a glioblastoma multiforme, stage four brain tumour.

“You never think that incidents such as this can happen to people who are close and important to you, but it does. I was heartbroken, hurt and confused, but at the same time I was a bit relieved. That brain tumor was the answer to all of his behavioural changes and to all of our raised concerns over the last year or so. It was the reason for my dad becoming a stranger to me.”

After the diagnosis, Andre underwent brain surgery where 70% of the tumour was successfully removed. Brittney’s parents have since found comfort through the Sudbury Brain Tumour Support Group, “It’s nice to interact with people who have similar stories and get what we’re going through,” she says.

Brittney’s love for her father and their close their relationship comes through loud and clear when she shares their story. “Before he was diagnosed with this awful disease, my dad and I would love to spend time together outside doing yard work or playing catch. But our favourite place to be was on the ice. Hockey was our lives.” Andre is a long-standing volunteer with Sudbury Girls Hockey, being there for Brittney’s countless hockey practices and games over the years.

When asked what motivates her with her fundraising efforts, Brittney says,

“My Dad. Plain and simple. Having to deal with losing a loved one to a brain tumour isn’t something anyone should have to go through. The difference with this kind of tumour is that you lose your loved one beforehand. I hope that one day there will be a cure because no one should have to go through something as difficult as this, ever.”

As she looks to the future, Brittney tries to balance the loss she is experiencing with the knowledge that she has had the opportunity to spend quality time with him since his diagnosis. “Knowing that he won’t be there to see me graduate from college, walk me down the aisle or meet my children breaks my heart but the memories we have and continue to make, will last a lifetime.”

This spring, Brittney, her family and friends are coming together to participate in the Sudbury Spring Sprint. The team is ‘In honour of Andre Rouleau’ and she invites anyone who is interested to join in and support the fight against brain tumours through the team or the Sudbury Spring Sprint.

Thank you Brittney and your family for sharing your story and for supporting the Sudbury Spring Sprint.

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Story posted: May 2013

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