blue | bleu

Andrea Lavoie

I was athletic and living in perfect health, when the sudden onslaught of extreme back pain forced me off work. Investigative tests revealed a tumor in my spinal column and breast cancer. It was the most frightening time of my life.

I was athletic and living in perfect health, when the sudden onslaught of extreme back pain forced me off work.  Investigative tests revealed a tumor in my spinal column and breast cancer. 

It was the most frightening time of my life.  I was anxious to find a neurologist, but reality left me quite disillusioned after much of the impersonal and repeatedly unprofessional treatment I had experienced from the health professionals I encountered. 

An acquaintance tried to prepare me for what promised to be a difficult road, saying, “You want the best surgeon for the job.  You don’t need a doctor who will hold your hand.  You have family for that.”  You could say that for all my misfortune, I won the lottery that counted when I got Dr. Jeffery Hall, at the Montreal Neurological Hospital!  His caring, kind and gentle manner matched his intellect and skill. 

Simply stated, I would not have made it through that troubling time without him.  My surgery was unique and complicated, as I was one of twelve people in the world to have had this type of tumor.  Dr. Hall consulted with several of his colleagues during my surgery to extract the tumor from my spinal cord.  It was reassuring to know that I had the best people with the latest techniques and knowledge to help me. 

Dr. Hall and his staff at the Neuro nursed me back to health during my nine month stay.  Many staff members had journeyed from far, leaving family and country to work at the Neuro, and I remember thinking how lucky I was to have the “whole world” looking after me.  Special nurses, like Berthe and John, cared for me around the clock.  I remember the cheery voices of Edward, Joyce, Renveer and many other Patient Attendants who looked after my personal needs. 

Therapists, Melanie and Anne-Marie, enthusiastically took on the task of helping me to regain my strength.  Volunteers of the Neuro visited me, bringing books for me to read, a small gift during the holidays, or just chatting a little to help pass the time.  I found peace sitting by the beautiful Christmas tree in the Neuro’s lobby during the holiday season, my most favorite time of year.  These things nourished my spirit and helped make my stay a little brighter, while my body mended under the Neuro’s watchful eye.  Several years have passed, since my surgery. 

I continue to see Dr. Hall who remains… ever diligent, ever caring, and ever kind.  This incredible journey has left me forever grateful to the Neuro, its staff, volunteers and donors.

The Montreal Neurological Institute & Hospital is a McGill University research and teaching institute; delivering the highest quality of care to patients, as part of the Neuroscience Mission of the McGill University Health Centre. The Neuro is proud to be a Killam Institution, supported by the Killam Trusts.