Patient's stories

André Papineau

My cells were all replaced by my sister’s

It's ironic… just a few weeks before my world was turned upside down I had told my girlfriend that I was lucky that my life was going so well.

Then, all of a sudden, despite being pretty fit, I started to get short of breath when I was playing sports ... I put it down to being 51. But then I was hit by a series of minor illnesses: laryngitis, sinusitis, flu, pneumonia... until eventually I found myself in an emergency room and my doctor was telling me that a hemato-oncologist would be coming to see me.

Bang! Oncologist. The word nobody wants to hear.

The diagnosis was sobering: bone marrow cancer.

I can tell you that what followed, between being surrounded by advanced technology and undergoing chemo, immunotherapy and two stem cell transplants, felt like another world. The most amazing part of this story is that it is one of my sisters, Lucie, who saved me. It's almost surreal: all the blood cells in my body have been replaced by my sister’s thanks to a bone marrow allotransplant.

I often had the impression of being in a science fiction movie. But no, I was at Maisonneuve-Rosemont - THE best hospital for stem cell transplants - and when the doctor who looks after your file is the same one who invented the technique for multiplying umbilical cord stem cells, you have to count yourself as lucky. I could not have been more confident of the expertise of the team taking care of me.

I still do not know if I will be free of cancer for life, but whatever happens, it's already extraordinary because if I had suffered from this disease 15 years ago, I would already be dead. And as I have the best girlfriend and daughter in the world, every minute with them is a blessing.

All these extra years of joy are because I've been able to benefit from the state-of-the-art treatment and world-class expertise of the HMR. The more we advance in this field, the more lives will be changed for the better.


Every day, stem cell treatments change lives and reprogram the story of patients just like André.