The Pat Burns Award honours eight valiant caregivers

MONTREAL, April 14, 2016 /CNW Telbec/ - The Pat Burns Award honoured eight valiant natural caregivers today before a group of close to 300 participants attending the 8th National Conference to Defeat Cancer, during its 5th edition in Montreal.

Initiated by Coalition Priorité Cancer au Québec in 2011, with the help of Celgene as a partner, the Pat Burns Award was created to pay tribute to persons who have done an outstanding job of providing quality support to a patient with cancer.

"When you become a natural caregiver, the world does not stop turning, but it slows everything down a lot, while turning just as fast. The Pat Burns Award is a token of recognition given to natural caregivers who often operate in the shadows; it serves to highlight their exceptional work," states Jason Burns, Chairman of the Pat Burns Award and former natural caregiver for his father, the late Montreal Canadiens coach, Pat Burns, who died of pancreatic cancer in 2011 and in honour of whom the Award was created.

The jury, composed of patients, cancer survivors and natural caregivers, as well as representatives from the community and professional oncology sectors, awarded grants and several gifts totaling $10,000 in value, to the winner, two finalists and other recipients, i.e. four honourable mentions accorded to natural caregivers whose stories touched the hearts of the jury members, as well as another candidate who received the jury's Coup de cœur award.

This year, the Pat Burns Award expanded more than ever before thanks to the presence of 8th National Conference patron Marguerite Blais, former minister responsible for seniors, communicator and author, and also former natural caregiver for her spouse Jean-Guy who lost his battle against cancer last March. Blais presented the Coup de cœur award. "The circumstances of my life led me to become a driven yet serene caregiver and I experienced a broad range of emotions," explains Blais. "This experience made me realize once more just how much natural caregivers (I refer to them as caring hearts) are incredibly courageous, full of compassion and extremely important to people who are ill," she adds.

Winner – Keith Pellerin (Princeville)

A wonderful brother-in-law, compassionate husband and natural caregiver for his spouse Catherine suffering from cancer, Keith Pellerin navigated since May 10, 2015, on what could be compared to as an ocean. Out in the distance, he always manages to perceive the island representing recovery. Last May, his wife Catherine was diagnosed with a cancer that rendered her paraplegic during her third pregnancy, and disrupted their lives. Subsequently, Keith's fatherhood role evolved to encompass the functions of husband, father, cab driver, psychologist, etc. Keith has always been the kind of man who puts the needs of those he loves before his own. As a result, and all too often since Catherine's cancer diagnosis, Keith has denied himself. Torn back and forth between Montreal and Quebec City for the sake of Catherine and their children, he had to quit working. He has never given up and thanks to his positive nature, he continues to brighten the lives of people wherever he goes.

Finalist – François Quarré (Laval)

In 1994, at the age of 57, François was declared to be disabled after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. A paraplegic, he has been confined to a wheelchair for the past 20 years and thanks to the support of his spouse, he received the care needed to maintain his quality of life. Last year, after he began experiencing new needs linked to his illness, several renovations were carried out to adapt the family home (an exterior elevator, lifts in the bedroom and bathroom, and an intercom in the main entrance). An attentive father, he is now a natural caregiver for his 58-year-old spouse, diagnosed with cancer in December 2014, to whom he provides daily assistance, despite the problems that his own disability can cause, as she wages her own battle against cancer. An inspiring model and mentor encouraging us to surpass ourselves.

Finalist – Miguel Callaci (Montreal)

Miguel was in his late sixties when his wife Danièle Trottier learned that she had ovarian cancer, coupled with brain metastases. Her illness progressed steadily over the next two years and she experienced a growing loss of autonomy; she was prone to frequent falls, and the slightest blow caused damage to her skin. Confronted with this situation, Miguel Callaci handled his role of natural caregiver with a great deal of devotion, and especially love. While continuing to fulfill his professional obligations, he kept on providing all the care required by his wife's condition: monitoring treatments, providing transportation assistance (e.g. appointments), dealing with the necessities of daily life (household maintenance, shopping, cooking) and doing so efficiently, free of stress, and with a display of good humour to mask all signs of sorrow that had to be kept in check, which is certainly the best way to provide psychological comfort. In the course of Danièle's illness, Miguel lost his job and, under the circumstances, was unable to start looking for another means of livelihood. A brave example of excellence and human compassion.

* * * * *

The Pat Burns Award jury reminds us that it does not claim to be able to measure the value of an experience compared to another and that the purpose of the exercise is rather to pay public tribute to the perseverance and courage displayed by natural caregivers when providing assistance to a loved one forced to deal with cancer. And so, four honourable mentions were awarded to Brigitte Morel, Richard Lepage, Laetitia Muteteli and Isabelle Szasz and the jury's Coup de cœur award went to Catherine Hudon.

Coalition Priorité Cancer au Québec urges the general public to regularly visit its Website ( in order to nominate an exceptional person during the next Pat Burns Award nomination period scheduled to commence in the early fall of 2016.

About the Coalition Priorité Cancer au Québec

Coalition Priorité Cancer au Québec was founded in 2001 to protect, support and give a strong voice to people affected by cancer (patients, survivors, informal caregivers, their families and their loved ones, as well as cancer-related community organizations and health professionals) and to help organize the fight against cancer. The Coalition supports the achievement of the mission of it's community and volunteer members and patients groups. Because of the contribution of these organizations and members, the Coalition's membership represents close to 2 million people.


SOURCE Coalition Priorité Cancer au Québec

For further information: Sylvie Piché, 514 868-2009, ext 225, Cell : 514 296-0694,; Michel Racette, Cell : 514 576-9327; Website:


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