After battling a severe form of cancer for 18 months and undergoing various surgeries and procedures, retired Planète Mazda Dealer Principal Sylvain Loiselle felt grateful to be able to participate again in an annual cycling event for charity last week in Montreal.
It was his seventh time in the 1,000-kilometre event, but he didn’t know until about three months ago whether he would be physically capable of doing it because of his health.
He captained his team, and in front of family and friends rode 500 kilometres.
“It meant a lot, it was symbolic,” said Loiselle. “Our first stage was kind of a tough one. It was eight degrees and pouring rain for the whole 100 kilometres and I told my friend that was riding with me, ‘this is awful, but I’m so happy to be here.’
“The event was similar to the other ones, but for me this one had a whole special meaning,” said Loiselle. “Six months ago, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to do it again.”
Loiselle, who is 50, said he had lived a clean and healthy life, often cycling, skiing and playing hockey, but in October, 2020 he noticed some concerning digestive issues, including blood in his stool. His spouse, Sandra, suggested he see a friend of hers who is a gastroenterologist. He underwent a colonoscopy a few days later and the procedure revealed a tumour. He was told it was cancerous and advanced, and the next morning visited a cancer specialist to undergo various tests. He was diagnosed with advanced Stage 3 colorectal cancer, which has a five-year survival rate of about 50 per cent. Had it been Stage 4, the five-year survival rate is less than 20 per cent.
He called an emergency morning with key staff the next morning to announce he had cancer and would be out of the office indefinitely.
He began chemotherapy, but after the first cycle inflammation was discovered in the colon and intestine. His body was no longer absorbing any nutrients and he spent 12 days in hospital.
“At that point I was kind of worried, ‘am I going to make it?’” said Loiselle. “I lost so much weight.”
He said it was particularly hard on Sandra and their two children—12-year-old Roxanne and nine-year-old Kloé. But he is now recovering his strength, and his hair, which he lost because of chemo, has grown back. He’s regaining weight after losing 35 pounds.
“I always kept a good attitude—well, good for cancer,” said Loiselle. “I couldn’t tell you I was joyful. Whenever I had some strength and energy I’d do some walking, running and a bit of indoor cycling.”
He is going for checkups every month. Though he has not been informed he is cancer free, he said he feels great. “If I could sign a contract just to stay like this for a couple of decades it would be good,” said Loiselle.