Over the course of his 33 year career as a doctor, Jean-Pierre Canuel has certainly prescribed many doses of hope to his patients as he has guided them back to health. On the eve of his retirement as a physician however, the roles were reversed as he unwillingly became a patient in need of medical attention- and perhaps a little hope too…
Rare are those who have the knowledge or credentials to put forth their own diagnosis. Dr. Jean-Pierre Canuel became one of those people when he diagnosed himself with ALS. “I had already followed two patients with ALS, one of which I accompanied until her last breath. When I felt myself losing muscular strength, I knew I needed to investigate. The disease with which I was living quickly became apparent to me and would soon after, be confirmed by my neurologist.”
Today, a little under three years after his diagnosis, Dr. Canuel is raising funds for research by taking part in the Québec City Walk for ALS. In addition, he has written letters to his patients, spending up to 20 hours per letter- due to the weakness of his hands, personalizing them. His letters begin: “During my entire career, I have helped many people. I have devoted myself without counting the hours. Having put in so much time and effort, I believe it is now your turn to help.”
“No money = no research.
No research = no cure.
No cure = DEATH.”
Dr. Canuel insists that the money raised by his team be dedicated to research. Why to research? For the Lévis man, the answer is obvious: “No money = no cure. No cure = no research. No research = DEATH.” Maybe for cases like mine, it will be too late. My hope remains however, that for others there will be a cure or even, that ALS may be prevented altogether.” That is why, according to Dr. Canuel, it is more important than ever to break the ice. “When you have ALS, you are stuck in a block of ice. It’s as if you were a deep sea diver immobilized by your suit or as if your body was encased in concrete or quick sand. In order to break the ice and free ourselves from this terrible disease, we need to find a cure. The first treatment starts by funding research.”
On June 10th, you are invited to come and cheer Dr. Canuel on, at the ALS Walk in Québec City as well as at the Quebec City Capitals vs Ottawa Champions baseball game, where he will proudly climb the mound in his scooter and throw the first pitch of the game.