The miraculous: she relearns to walk and speak

The year 2023 presents itself in a happier sign for little Laurence, who is turning the page on two years of difficult treatments during which she had to both fight cancer and relearn how to walk and talk.

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Courage and strength of character, Laurence Alain has it in spades: she has never lost her contagious good humor, even if cancer came into her life in January 2021, at the age of three.

It all started over the holidays when her parents noticed she was losing her balance.

« She walked like someone who had drunk too much, » says her mother, Stéphanie Gagnon.

Which didn’t make sense for the child who loves to climb and jump.

Trying not to worry too much about it, the small family of Lévis still consulted. The verdict is in: malignant tumor in the cerebellum (medulloblastoma).

In remission from a tumor in the cerebellum, Laurence, 5 years old, quietly finds a more normal life with her parents, Stéphanie Gagnon and Frédéric Alain, and her older brother William.

Photo Stevens LeBlanc

In remission from a tumor in the cerebellum, Laurence, 5 years old, quietly finds a more normal life with her parents, Stéphanie Gagnon and Frédéric Alain, and her older brother William.

Quickly, the close-knit family rolled up their sleeves and faced, with the support of loved ones, what were going to be two grueling years, further disrupted by the pandemic which limited hospital visits.


Laurence underwent emergency surgery to have the malignant mass removed, but fate had other ordeals in store for her.

» She woke up. She spoke a little bit, then the next day she didn’t speak anymore, didn’t move. Just the eyes”, says his father Frédéric Alain.

The little girl, who loved playing with her big brother so much, could not even lift a finger due to severe posterior fossa syndrome, which sometimes occurs after this procedure.

In all, she was hospitalized full time for nine months to undergo chemotherapy treatments which caused her intense side effects and bone marrow transplants, alongside a rehabilitation program with several specialists.

Laurence “never” gave up and the results surprised even the doctors.

» [On] had told us verbatim that what did not come back a year [après] the operation [en matière de capacités motrices]it won’t come back, ”explains Ms. Gagnon.

And yet, it is still progressing two years later. She walks and talks again, jumps on the trampoline and climbs her climbing wall.

She started kindergarten in September, where she made friends in no time. However, her sense of balance is still lacking and she tires quickly without her walker.


Since October, the treatments of Laurence, now 5 years old, have been completed. Her tumor disappeared and she is in remission. The hospital, « it’s almost over, » she says in a playful tone.

“She is very determined. If she has an idea in mind, she will do everything to make the idea come true, her mother rejoices. […] She shows us that we must not give up. »

“What I try to take away from her is that you do what makes you happy. Even the things that are less pleasant, you try to do it while having fun”, adds his father.

The parents say they are grateful to Leucan, which has been by their side at all stages and is funding the research.


  • Most common malignant brain tumor in children
  • Appears in the cerebellum, located behind the brain
  • Usually affects young children and more rarely adults
  • Overall survival rate of about 70-80% (at 5 years, if the disease has not spread)
  • About 25% of children who have surgery will develop posterior fossa syndrome, which can cause difficulty speaking, swallowing and affecting motor functions
  • Between 250 and 500 new pediatric cases are diagnosed each year in the United States

Source: St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital online resources

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