Although he is currently in remission, firefighter Jean-François Couture was diagnosed in 2017 with multiple myeloma, a form of invasive cancer that attacks plasma cells.
“How do you tell your kids that you have an incurable cancer?” Couture said. “I was shocked by the diagnosis, especially when I discovered that myeloma is known to affect many firefighters and is recognized as a work-related disease by the CNESST (Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail du Québec).”
A father of two with almost 25 years of service fighting fires, two years ago he found himself always exhausted despite having proper sleep habits. After visiting the doctor, he learned that his kidneys were only functioning at ten percent capacity, caused by the cancer.
At the end of 2018, he received a stem cell transplant that has placed him in remission and expects to be back at work soon.
But one of his current missions is to raise awareness for multiple myeloma, which is why he will be front and centre at the upcoming 11th annual Montreal Multiple Myeloma March happening on Sunday, October 6th at John Abbott College.
“Myeloma patients have seen their treatment options increase exponentially over the past decade,” said Dr. Richard LeBlanc of Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital. “We’re now seeing incredibly promising treatment options that are helping us to stay ahead of the disease, such as CAR T-Cell therapy, Bi-specific T-cell engagers (BiTEs), immunotherapies, and many more advances that are in development. For the first time, we can actually say that we’re getting closer to finding a cure. Investing in research is critical, which is why raising funds is more important than ever.”
The goal of the march is to raise $75,000 for the cause.
“Through the march, those whose lives have been touched by myeloma get to meet and connect with one another while raising funds for advancing critical clinical research. Each step taken is one that brings us closer to finding a cure,” said Martine Elias, Executive Director of Myeloma Canada.
To learn more or to register for the walk, go online via myelomamarch.ca.
Montreal parents shared their concerns on Sept. 18 about the future of Quebec’s Anglophone schools after an announcement from the Lester B. Pearson School Board (LBPSB) stated that some high schools may close in the West Island, Verdun and Lachine.
“The idea is to reorganize the network of high schools so they’re evenly distributed around the territory of the board and the buildings are sufficiently occupied so that there’s not a risk of having them changed over by the minister,” Noel Burke, chairperson of the LBPSB, told reporters.
The board is currently holding consultations to determine which schools will be affected. The following are the possible options: students from Beurling Academy in Verdun being moved to LaSalle Community Comprehensive High School, St. Thomas High School in Pointe-Claire to Lindsay Place High School, and a cohabitation plan for the Lakeside Academy and the Marguerite-Bourgeoys School Board.
Last January, Education Minister Jean-François Roberge transferred all students from LBPSB’s Riverdale High School to the Pierrefonds Comprehensive High School, landing under the French Marguerite-Bourgeoys school board. Burke told the media the consultations will hopefully prevent this from happening again.
Kathleen Kelley, a mother whose daughter is in Grade 8 at St. Thomas High School, worries that there could be an eventual overcrowding at the schools where LBPSB students are being transferred to. “[The LBPSB] needs to realize that they’re our last line of defence and we count on them to protect and fight for the education of our children.” Kelley added that she does not understand how St. Thomas, a school that is 90 per cent in population, should be transferred to another school.
Burke want parents to be involved in the consultations and propose alternative solutions.
“The urgency at this point is to reorganize the network in a way our board and our community would like it to be reorganized. We have always recognized their need and our excess space so we’re happy to do that, but in a very organized way in which the community participates in those decisions.”