It’s not hard to smile when you see Madison Primeau smile like she is on the recently released Ottawa Hydro bill envelopes. What this young lady has had to go through this early in life is more than many of us will have to face our entire lives.
Here is a bit of background. When she was 6 she was diagnosed with Medulloblastoma(brain cancer). More specifically, it was plumb size near her cerebellum at the bottom of her brain stem. Needless to say there were surgeries planned to remove it and many, many months even years of treatment. Here is a brief rundown of what Madi went through I received from her father, Denis:
“Madison started her radiation treatments one month after her first surgery. She had severe stomach issues and was on a feeding tube placed in her nose going down into her stomach for about 6 months. She then had a permanent one placed though her abdomen wall straight through to her stomach. At one point, her weight dropped to under 30 pounds.”
As you can imagine the radiation continued for some time, the battery of tests and follow ups were many and more time was spent at the hospital than at home. To describe this as a “tough time” is an understatement. The Primeau’s also have twin boys to take care of. You can only imagine the strain it can put on a family, a couple, a person to have to go through this. The time missed at work all while bills continue to pile up, all the commuting and all of this compounded by not knowing whether or not your little girl is going to be okay in the end.
This is where the story of hope, courage and family comes into play. When word got out about what little Madi was going through it didn’t take long for friends and family to form a movement called Team Madison to help Denis and Shelley with some of the expenses and bills while they where helping their daughter fight for her life. There were fundraisers, notes of support, swag created and people were praying and hoping for Madison every day.
I’m sure when Madi and her parents realized they weren’t alone in this fight it gave them a shot in the arm, a little motivation if you will, to not just keep up the fight but kick it up a notch. They say it takes a community to raise a child and in the case that community stepped up and helped a child fight cancer. Getting support from everyone, whether it be financial, a prepared meal, kind words or even knowing people are praying, played a huge part in keeping things together as best they could during all this.
While many of us were behind Madi to beat this disease and go back to being a regular kid she managed to inspire many of us along the way. This young lady was in a fight for her life but the photos we saw with her beautiful smile and the stories of successes on some treatments provided hope to us all. We had Madi in our thoughts and knew it was important news for her and her family but at the same time we felt hope in our own lives for our personal battles both big and small thanks to this young warrior.
I had the opportunity to teach Madi some youth fitness classes before she got diagnosed and have spent some time with her after all this ordeal and I can tell you her zest for life is infectious. I ran into her and Devon at a fundraiser a few years ago for Bikers Against Brain Cancer and these two survivors are quite the characters providing hope for many. I remember her calling me “the bacon man” that night.
Here is an update from her father Denis:
“She is having success with her physical issues but still struggling with mental issues. We’ve changed schools to get extra help and I am currently looking for even more help as well. Radiation given to a child’s brain at a young age really impairs her cognitive functions , short term memory, permanent hearing loss, the ability to read, write and even walk. It wasn’t an easy thing to deal with, still isn’t, but we do it cause we have to. We don’t have a choice. We want her to be the very best she can be. Just like both Shelley and I were raised. We were asked by CHEO to take part in their adds in advertising that the hospital is going paperless. One of their major sponsors is Ottawa Hydro and we took part in a video and photo shoot. Madison couldn’t say no. She loved the cause and was happy to make another trip to 4 North craft room. “
As you can see the fight for young Madi and her family is not over but they persevere and continue to show us the power of positivity, family and hope. Her smile is a constant reminder of how precious life is and how we need to enjoy every moment we are afforded.
I lost my father to cancer almost two years ago, I know first hand how a family comes together to support each other and what the outside words and encouragement do to keep things moving forward in a positive light. For me, the Primeau family are a shining example of that and I hope by reading this you can draw hope, courage and inspiration from Madison’s story.
Here are a couple recent Facebook updates from her father Denis:
“Leaving CHEO with great news. Still no Cancer detected. Grew over an inch and a half since Christmas and almost 10 lbs weight gain. (Mostly muscle for hockey) Thanks for sending prayers. We all need them!” ~ June 22, 2016
“Just back from Endo at CHEO. Mad dog has grown another 2 inches and put on a few pounds in the last 4 months. She is now over 4 feet 1″ tall and tips the scales at over 80 pounds. Hard to believe she dropped to below 27 during her treatments only two and a half years ago. We’re happy and proud of everything you’ve done! I can’t wait till you’re older and finally realize what you’ve done and how far you’ve come. Love you to the moon and back Mad dog!” ~ September 12, 2016
Finally I want to thank Madison and her family for all the hope and courage you have helped people find over past number of years. I continue to send out positive vibes their way each and every day. She may be tiny but she is mighty. Also, to all those behind the team Madison movement a huge thanks as well.
Keep smiling Madison, because when you smile we all smile right along with you!