Philippe: going twice as far thanks to you!

By teaming up with our spokesperson P.K. Subban, you helped children like Philippe get back on their feet. Thank you!

Philippe beat cancer and avoided having his leg amputated. Thanks to the exceptional care he received at The Children's and your generous support, he was able to spend the holiday season at home with his family. Find out more about his story and the impact of your donation.

We all know someone battling cancer, but when the disease comes for your own child, it’s hard not to feel that is profoundly unfair.

In our case, it was even more difficult to accept because we thought Philippe had simply sprained his knee. But even though he was taking a morphine-based medication, the pain only grew, as did the swelling in his thigh. And with each passing day, our worry grew, too.

Our orthopedist referred us to Dr. Robert Turcotte, a specialist in musculoskeletal oncology and an orthopedic surgeon at The Children’s. “The best of the best,” she told us. That’s when we got the diagnosis. Philippe had osteosarcoma, a cancer of the long bones that is quite rare in children.

How can I explain the sense of shock? I felt a tight ball in the pit of my stomach; and my brain couldn’t process the news. I was numb. Until my teen got his first chemotherapy treatment. Then sadness joined my fear: is my child going to die?

The prognosis for survival was between 70% and 80%. Without minimizing the gravity of the disease, the oncologist helped me to avoid thinking about the remaining 30%.

Philippe, meanwhile, was obsessed with one thing: avoiding an amputation of his leg. The tumour was large and it was attacking his femur, the longest bone in the human body. You can understand that when you’re 16, self-image is everything.

We relied on the expertise of Dr. Turcotte, a pioneer of many innovative procedures. He told us he could replace the entire femur with a chrome and cobalt prosthesis – a rarely performed 10-hour surgery in which 40% of the muscles in Philippe’s thigh would be cut away.

This would mean no more competitive sports for Philippe, a passionate hockey and baseball player. He would also have to abandon his dream of becoming a firefighter. These were huge losses, but my son made the choice to save his leg. Then life threw another curveball.

An X-ray showed spots on his lungs. Possible metastases. Had the cancer spread?

While Philippe kept a positive attitude, it was hard for my husband and I. That evening, we took a walk in the field behind our house; we clung to each other as we sobbed and raged to release the day’s pent up emotions… We wanted to shelter our two daughters from our profound grief, because for them, despite everything, life went on.

After getting his prosthesis, Philippe underwent two more surgeries to remove tumours from his lungs, one cancerous, one benign. At the end of September, after a year-long battle, Philippe was finally cancer free! Today, he is focused on regaining strength in his leg.

I honestly don’t know what we would have done without the incredible team at The Children’s, the care of our family and friends and the generosity of people like you!

Your donations support ongoing innovation and help to purchase state-of-the-art equipment, allowing The Children’s to offer exceptional care. Your generosity also maintains programs like Child Life and the Tiny Tim Fund, which give moral and financial support to families dealing with illness.

While Philippe was in the hospital, I witnessed the incredible work and dedication of The Children’s staff as they cared for children and teens. They are the best of the best! They help their young patients feel a sense of control over their illness, and act as caring guides for parents.

You know, during this medical odyssey, my son always said, “Cancer picked the wrong opponent.” This illness has also brought out the best in my son and proved that with teamwork, anything is possible. As a donor, you were there for Philippe during his fight, too, and I thank you for that.

This year, while our Holiday season will be more peaceful, I am thinking about the kids who will be in the hospital during this normally festive time. I’ll be thinking of their parents, some of whom I now call friends, who will experience their own moments of despair and need comforting.

I hope that these families will be able to benefit from the same support that helped us to get through our son’s challenging ordeal.

Thank you for your generosity!

Sonia, Philippe’s mom

P.S. A year ago, we entered The Children’s without knowing that our son would have to fight the battle of his life. It’s been a rollercoaster of emotions but also an opportunity to witness the crucial role that your donations play. Thank you!