Gaetane Boeur


I was born in Libramont 46 years ago and I am the second child of a family of four. I have not left the Ardennes ever since, except for a few years when I went to study in Louvain-La-Neuve. I have been married for twenty years to an exceptional man and we have two grown-up sons (17 and 19) who are as wonderful.

The story of MS started for me in 2006 with severe itching on the shoulder blade and the right breast, followed by sensations of electric shocks and then loss of sensitivity on the right side. Having dismissed the possibility of shingles, we carried on with MRI scans and these showed multiple lesions in the spine and the head. The diagnosis was clear: it was MS. The lumbar puncture confirmed this diagnosis, there was no mistake. The lack of sensitivity on my right side disappeared after a few weeks.

This diagnosis came as a blow to me. Of course as I did not know anything about MS, I imagined the worst case scenario with a tragic ending. I could see myself in a wheelchair and the consequences that would have on my family and for myself. And I felt exhausted. And then, quickly, life waved at me again and I took the hint. I believe that we are surrounded by people, things, tools that are there to help us. We just need to keep our eyes open, as well as our heart. So from then on when I am exhausted, I listen to myself for a change and I take a nap (I was never one to snooze in the middle of the day!). I was lucky that people at work listened to me and respected me, and I was easily granted to go on a special scheme that allows me to work part-time.

I have a strong faith in medicine and its results. But this faith has never stopped me from exploring other paths. The different ways of coping with a disease are not contradictory but rather I see them as being complementary.

A friend lent me a book by Lise Bourbeau, Your Body's Telling You, Love Yourself, and what I read got me thinking. She writes, "when our body talks to us through an ailment or a disease, it helps us become aware of a way of thinking that is not beneficial for us. The physical body is simply the outward manifestation of what is happening within us." I subscribe to this idea that a disease does not appear by chance and I want to understand why it is there.

And then during the weeks and months that followed, I read some very interesting books, I discovered yoga practice with a professor I truly admire, I went on a Thought Management course amongst other things. I discovered the immense power of the mind and every day, when I take a nap, I visualise myself healed. This course is still helping me now to transform negative thinking into positive thinking. Obviously this is something you have to do every day, it's not that simple but it's well worth trying. I also regularly saw a physiotherapist/osteopath who I think is wonderful too. And step by step he helped me become aware of those beliefs I have and the way I function which are probably not appropriate for me. You really have to question yourself all the time but I like it. And as I was doing physio with him, I managed to hit the nail on the head of something important to me, and so I let go of it and the therapist told me that that was healing. I was not sure whether I could believe him and I wondered what had happened to me but I felt happy. A few months later, in December 2007, the results of the MRI tests were amazing: all the lesions had disappeared!

I am happy and proud because I have the impression that I am partly responsible for my own healing. And then I say thank you to my disease because it forces me to stop and think. It has made me progress in a way I would probably never have done without it. At the end of each ordeal, there is a gift. It's up to us to see it, but then we need to know where to look.

I also want to say that at every step along the way I had the support of my husband who has always been loving and understanding, and he has always given me a lot of space and freedom even when he does not share my beliefs.

And so when I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009, I was in a completely different state of mind. "So, here we go again," I thought, "another ordeal, so soon after the other one, but then it means that I still have some way to go, and I will make it." These were my first thoughts. Of course I also reacted explosively with anger, revolt, and especially disappointment. And then I learned to deal with things, one after the other: I underwent surgery twice, chemotherapy and its side effects, radiotherapy. All these treatments came to an end in July 2010.

So that's how far I'd got when I heard of the Toubkal 2011 project in October. I was just about starting to feel stronger again and I could see in this project a very nice motivation to take up sports again as I had not been doing any for months. I was all the more motivated as I knew Suzette well, our coach. After my surgery, she visited me at home to give me massages which always filled me with life force again. And in any case, I am convinced of the benefits of sports for each of us, ill or not ill. The oncologist was telling me about it and insisted that I took up sports again.

And then Morocco… I have seen some photos from friends and I've heard them talk about how beautiful it is. It's a country I don't know much about but I am keen to discover. I love the mountains, be it in summer or winter. Another aspect that appeals to me is the group. I love making new acquaintances, living things together and share things. It's very rewarding in my eyes, and I really look forward to experiencing this. This project truly thrills me, even though I do have some fear. Altitude scares me, but also the long hours walking everyday and then spending the night in shelters, and then and then… Can I make it? Well, this is a challenge I am facing and I think it fits well in the personal development path I started a few years ago.

In terms of communicating about this project, if my testimony can help even just one person, then I will be happy to have done it. We are all unique and different and so there is not just one way to move forward. Everyone needs to find the path that will suit them. The important thing in life is not to get to a point but how you cope with things. Experiences do not make us, what makes us is what we make of them. This is my creed, and I try to remember it at all times.

See you soon,


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