7th National Conference to Defeat Cancer - The Pat Burns award celebrates seven exceptional natural caregivers

MONTREAL, April 10, 2015 /CNW Telbec/ - Today, seven exceptional natural caregivers were honoured before a crowd of over 300 people who attended the 7th National Conference to Defeat Cancer in the course of the 4th edition of the Pat Burns award in Montreal.

A 2011 initiative by the Coalition Priorité Cancer au Québec made possible thanks to Celgene, the Pat Burns award was created to celebrate the quality of care and support natural caregivers provide to patients battling cancer. "Natural caregivers play a crucial role in the life of those patients; they're indispensable allies of the health care system," declared Jason Burns, president of the Pat Burns award, during the opening ceremony of the event's 4th edition. "Inspiring examples of respect and generosity—though their role remains undervalued—natural caregivers still struggle to recognize the noble character of their own actions.", Jason Burns explains.

Composed of cancer patients, survivors and their natural caregivers, as well as community representatives and professional workers concerned with oncology, the jury awarded the winner and the two finalists grants totalling some $10,000. Moreover, three natural caregivers earned an honourable mention for their especially notable background, and a fourth candidate was awarded the jury's 'coup de cœur'.

Winner – Julie Trahan (Basses Laurentides – Boisbriand)

Her daughter Zoe has been fighting brain cancer for 6 years, and Julie has supported from the very day she was diagnosed—as she still does unrelentingly. Day in, day out, Julie stands right at Zoe's side, striving through her daughter's illness. She accompanies her through all of her treatments, spending nights at the hospital. Every day for 6 years, she has been driving her to school and back because Zoe lacks the energy to take the bus. Every month, she takes her to her chemotherapy sessions in Toronto, paying for all treatment fees, since nowhere else is the treatment is offered. Unremittingly, she keeps comforting and encouraging her daughter so she maintains a positive attitude throughout her struggle. Julie even goes through the physiotherapy, ergotherapy, and kinesiology exercises the treatment calls for, and pays close attention to Zoe's emotions, ever mindful of her limits. A profoundly selfless person filled with compassion, Julie strives to embody the unconditional love of a mother for her daughter. The jury was moved by Zoe's testimony regarding her mother, and by Julie's immense devotion for her child.

Finalist – Lucia Di Mauro (La Plaine)

Lucia's sister Maria, mother of two, was diagnosed with breast cancer in September 2013. Reluctant to trouble her then pregnant sister, Maria kept her condition a secret, however, during the last month of her pregnancy, Lucia found out about her situation. Shocked, though confident her older sister and best friend would overcome the ordeal, she accompanied Maria to all of her treatment sessions. Then, following the birth of her Maria's third child, Lucia also took on the role of "mother" for her niece and nephew, aged 12 and 10 respectively, further taking care of the newborn baby. Tragically, Maria ended up losing her fight against cancer in August of 2014, but Lucia, determined to stand at Maria's bedside through thick and thin, managed to make the transition a peaceful one, ensuring her sister that her children would be well taken care of. Lucia kept her promise and now fosters three young persons promised a life of love and peace together. Lucia's compassion, altruism and courage were sure to leave a great impression on the jury.

Finalist – Thérèse Paré (Beauce)

Having acted as natural caregiver for her father and cousin battling cancer and having helped, cared for, listened to and housed several of her family members—all the while taking care of a severely disabled son—Thérèse, at first dismayed by her spouse Claude's cancer diagnostic, resolutely decided to grasp the nettle and fight alongside her husband. Acting as a nurse, a driver, a cook and a personal attendant to Claude, she spares no effort to help him learn to live with his illness better. She wants to know, she seeks to understand, she only wishes what's best for him, and she is just learning about the importance of calling for help (social services, local community service centres, family) so that she can efficiently fulfill her role as a natural caregiver. Ever optimistic, her and her husband are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. Befittingly, Thérèse and Claude delivered several lectures within their community regarding their experiences, both as a natural caregiver and as a patient. The jury was impressed with Thérèse's courage and devotion for her husband, as well as with her ability to turn a difficult situation into a positive life lesson, both for her and for her community.

* * * * *

The jury of the Pat Burns award wishes to reiterate that it could never aspire to appraise the worth of two people's experience relative to one another, and that the sole aim of their work is to publicly honour the courage and perseverance shown by natural caregivers accompanying relatives struggling against cancer. It is in this spirit that three mentions of honour were made for Renald Leblanc, Frédéric Gagnon and Suzanne Girard. Furthermore, the jury's "coup de cœur" was awarded to Cynthia Plante.

Coalition Priorité Cancer au Québec is inviting the population to keep an eye on its website (www.coalitioncancer.com) to submit an application for an exceptional person during the nomination period of the next Pat Burns award beginning in Fall of 2015.

About the Coalition Priorité Cancer au Québec

Coalition Priorité Cancer au Québec was founded in 2001 in order to defend and provide people affected by cancer (patients, survivors, their natural caregivers and relatives) with support and a strong voice. The Coalition assists community organizations and health professionals working in oncology, and strives to fortify coordination in the fight against cancer. Thanks to all of its members, both individuals and organizations, the Coalition represents nearly 1.5 million people. It supports its community members, volunteers and partner patient associations in the achievement of their mission.


SOURCE Coalition Priorité Cancer au Québec

For further information: Sylvie Piché, 514 868-2009, ext. 225, Cell: 514 296-0694, spiche@coalitioncancer.com; Michel Racette, Cell: 514 576-9327; info@unevoixforte.com; Website: www.unevoixforte.com; Facebook : CoalitionPrioriteCancerAuQuebec; Twitter : @CoalitionCancer


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