17-year-old will no longer play hockey, but leaves Montreal hospital cancer-free

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Philippe Villeneuve is recovering from his 28th and – fingers crossed – last round of chemotherapy for bone cancer. He and his family took stock of a tumultuous year Monday at the Montreal Children’s Hospital.

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Philippe Villeneuve is going home this week, hopefully for good. The 17-year-old and his family took stock of a tumultuous year Monday morning at the Montreal Children’s Hospital.

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Philippe is recovering from his 28th and – fingers crossed – the latest round of chemotherapy for osteosarcoma, a form of bone cancer.

“I feel very good,” he said with a smile. “This is a step taken. It’s been almost a year. Now it’s time to get back to a different life than it was before, but a more normal life.

It will be a life without competitive hockey, Philippe’s favorite sport, which he played in a special program at his high school. He was also an avid baseball player.

“I haven’t played hockey all year,” he said.

“There was a period of mourning at the beginning,” says his father Martin. “They told him he couldn’t play contact sports anymore, that he could keep playing for fun, but competitive hockey was over.

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“It was… I don’t know the exact emotion, but I would say a little sadness,” Philippe recalls. “It was a shock. “

It all started with knee pain. Philippe thought it was a sprain; it turned out to be a cancerous tumor that had invaded most of her femur.

“We had to remove the entire femur and put in a metal implant to replace it,” said Dr. Robert Turcotte, the orthopedic surgeon who performed the procedure. “It’s an important piece of tissue to lose and rebuild – we have loosened a lot of muscles, all the muscles that move the hip, but we have retained its ability to extend and bend the knee, which is the most. important for walking. “

Philippe will still be able to move around, but he will walk with a cane. He had to review his ambition to become a firefighter. He is thinking about career options including auto mechanic, bus driver or forklift operator.

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“For sure, I won’t be able to do the same things as before, but I will try to do as much as I can with what I can do,” he said.

Everyone around him is amazed by Philippe’s philosophical gaze.

“I am very happy that this is over,” said her mother, Sonia Bellefleur. “Cancer has a lot of negatives, but it also brings a lot of positives. Through it all, I discovered another son, other sides of him that I would never have seen otherwise. “

The ordeal brought the whole family together, including Philippe’s younger sisters, Florence, 15, and Gabrielle, 12.

“I hope this will continue,” Bellefleur said of the new sense of intimacy.

“(Philippe is) a pretty stoic guy,” said Dr Surabhi Rawal, a pediatric hematologist-oncologist who has been his attending physician since taking charge of his case in the spring.

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“I know he hates being here, but he’ll never let it show.”

Rawal is impressed by the way Philippe was able to put his condition in perspective with what other children are going through at the Montreal Children’s Hospital.

“He internalizes that and uses it to deal with his own experiences of pain, discomfort and frustration with being in the building,” she said.

“There are things we can control and things we cannot control. We cannot control the natural course of his illness… but one thing that is in his control is his perspective.

Nurse Paula Jofre has watched Philippe blossom over the past 10 months.

“I saw this young man come out of his shell,” Jofre said. “He persevered and became a very resilient person. I can see him enjoying the important things in life.

“Seeing a child go through all of this is very inspiring. There is always uncertainty, but all we can do is hope for the best and (allow them to) continue to dream.

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