Since 2008, the Fondation Cité de la Santé has organized an annual cycling event called 300 km pour la VIE for the Regional Cancerology Program in Laval. Each year, 150 cyclists get on their bikes and proudly pedal their way through the 300 km back and forth route between Laval and Trois-Rivières, all to raise funds for cancer patients and their families. Each of the 150 cyclists represent a story of perseverance and courage.

Here, we present the stories of Dr. Olivier Haeck, microbiologist/infectious disease specialist at Hôpital de la Cité-de-la-Santé and his wife, Dr. Annie Desruisseaux, general practitioner at Centre médical Laval.

How it Began
In September 2017, Dr. Haeck and Dr. Desruisseaux were participating for their 10th and 5th time respectively. It was a particularly meaningful event for them, not just because they made it through the grueling sporting challenge, but because they were celebrating their wedding anniversary as well. The couple nostalgically recalls the first few years of the event, which began as a simple rally organized and led by the powerful energy of Lynda Bouchard, a cancer survivor and Executive Attaché of the CMDP (Conseil des médecins, dentistes et pharmaciens) of the CISSS de Laval.

At the time, Dr. Haeck had just begun at Hôpital de la Cité-de-la-Santé and was coming to work on his bike almost everyday. Inspired by Lynda’s initiative and motivation, he agreed to take on the challenge in 2008 on his hybrid bike, which he used to participate in the 300 km events until 2013!

As for Dr. Desruisseaux, she was ignited by the energy of the event. “It’s such an emotional moment when the cyclists cross the finish line! After helping Olivier complete the challenge, I wanted to take part as well! Besides, as doctors, we know so many people affected by cancer. It makes you want to do something about it!” she says. “We weren’t the most experienced cyclists, but the event gave us a reason to train and an excuse to spend time together. It brought us closer!”

A VIP Challenge
When asked why they participate in the event, the answer is unanimous: for the cause! The doctors explain that though they enjoy cycling, they are doing it for Lynda and all the patients affected by cancer; it’s what motivates them. According to them, the event is well organized, and everyone is encouraged to ride at their own pace. It’s a personal challenge, not a contest.

“It’s a challenge that everyone can do,” says Dr. Haeck. “It’s perfect for those that are hesitant but would like to get back into shape for a good cause. The fact that we depart from the Centre intégré de cancérologie and come back on the Sunday makes us feel closer to the patients and their families. When we’re struggling on the route, we think of them, and suddenly, we get our energy back!”

An Event that Makes a Big Difference
In just 10 years, the 300 km pour la VIE has raised more than 1.5 million dollars for the Regional Cancerology Program. The funds have been used to acquire a laparoscopic ultrasound probe for kidney cancers, an echoendoscope for the detection of colon-rectal cancers and has financed several projects supporting patients’ well-being.

Dr. Haeck and Dr. Desruisseaux will be at the start line on Sept. 8th. Will you?