Philippe: Cancer chose the wrong opponent

You may remember Philippe, a young patient at The Children’s who participated in the Foundation’s Radiothon last August, expressing his gratitude to the Hospital, where he has been treated for almost a year. The 17-year-old, who was diagnosed with bone cancer recently left the hospital, on his two feet, thanks to the specialized care he received and to your generous support. And just before he went home, a special surprised awaited him…

An unexpected prognosis

Philippe’s medical odyssey started in October 2020, when the young avid hockey and baseball player attended a high school sport-study program. During a gym class, he felt a sudden and severe pain in his left knee that brought him to the ground. The consensus was a sprained knee, but despite rest, the pain increased. As it turns out, the prognosis was far worse.

After consulting with Dr. Robert Turcotte, orthopedic surgeon and musculoskeletal oncology specialist at the McGill University Health Centre, Philippe found out he had osteosarcoma - bone cancer. A tumour was growing on his femur, thighbone, just above the knee.

Under the care of The Children’s hematologist-oncologists Drs. Catherine Goudie and Surabhi Rawal, pivot nurse Paula Jofre and many others, Philippe started round after round of chemotherapy. After each chemo session, the teenager would stay in the Hospital for three to 10 days to allow his immune system to recover; he returned home for three days and started the routine again.

Along with losing his hair, having no appetite, coping with nausea and fatigue, confinement to a hospital room triggered anxiety.

One surgery after another

Due to the size of the tumour, Philippe was worried his surgeon might need to amputate his leg at the hip. Thankfully, amputation wasn't necessary. The young patient underwent a 10-hour surgery; his femur was replaced with a stainless steel and titanium prosthesis. Some of his leg muscles and a portion of his tibia, calf bone, were also removed. The teenager had to learn to walk again.

Philippe underwent two additional surgeries, first on his right lung to remove a cancerous tumour and then the left lung, which, thankfully, ended up being tumour-free.

A wonderful surprise for Philippe

As Philippe was getting ready to leave the Hospital, he met Maxime Gagnon, of Hockey Québec, and Raphaëlle Tousignant, a member of the National Women’s Sledge Hockey Team treated at The Children’s 10-years ago for bone cancer. The two offered to initiate the young athlete to the sport. He was all smiles and will soon get on the ice to give it a try!

The teenager, who is focusing on his rehabilitation to improve his ability to walk and regain his physical strength and endurance, says he is optimistic and taking it one day at a time. "Cancer chose the wrong opponent," asserts Philippe.

And one thing is certain: a world of possibilities is opening up for him!