In 1981, Robert Patenaude is a second-year medical student at the Université de Montréal when he is diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia, then an incurable cancer. With only a few months to live, Dr. Claude Perreault suggests a bone marrow transplant, an innovative procedure at the time. 30 years after receiving one of the first bone marrow transplants in Canada, Robert Patenaude enjoys a healthy and active life. A sailing enthusiast and an avid cyclist, he is an emergency physician at the Centre hospitalier Honoré-Mercier in Saint-Hyacinthe. He is also the author of several published titles including Surviving Leukemia, in which he details his personal struggle with the illness.
Since his recovery, Robert Patenaude has been an unrelenting supporter of cancer research currently acting as IRIC’s advocate. Why IRIC? Robert Patenaude has renewed his destiny with the doctor who saved his life, Claude Perreault, one of IRIC’s founding members and part of the 29 teams dedicated to research in immunology and cancer at IRIC.
Robert Patenaude organized the first edition of the Perseverance Campaign to raise funds for cancer research at IRIC in 2007. On board his sailboat, Persévérance, Robert Patenaude competed in the Bermuda One-Two sailing event and collected $75,000 in donations. In June 2009, Robert Patenaude once again competed in the Bermuda One-Two sailing event to raise funds for IRIC. Not only did he secure $177,605 in donations but he also became the first Canadian to win the Bermuda One-Two race in his category, despite a perilous collision with a whale. In addition, one of the donors of the 2009 Perseverance Campaign was so taken with IRIC’s cause that he pledged $1M to the Institute.
In 2010, Robert Patenaude traded in his sails for a bicycle to act as the Perseverance Challenge team captain. Some 70 cyclists wore IRIC’s colours during the 2010 Perseverance Challenge and raised over $200,000 for cancer research. On 2011, the Challenge continued to evolve and was now open to runners as well. Over 80 participants joined team captain Patenaude to raise more than $310,000. And for its third edition, a record amount of $325,000 was raised by the 110 participants. The Perseverance Challenge 2013 will be held next September 21-22. To find out more about the event, visit the web page of the 2013 Perseverance Challenge.
In addition to his involvement in the Perseverance Challenge, Robert Patenaude has taken part in two transatlantic sailing expeditions in the summer of 2012 to celebrate his 30 years of victory against cancer. He embarked on this adventure in celebration of this momentous occasion and to show that it is possible to win the fight against cancer!
Since 2007, Robert Patenaude’s fundraising activities have generated over $1.5 million in donations for IRIC. His exceptional contribution to IRIC and his advocacy work on cancer research was recognized by Gens de cœur contest presented by Radio-Canada that pays tribute to volunteers throughout the province of Quebec. He won the 2011 edition of the contest for his exceptional volunteer work as IRIC spokesperson.