Luc Bisaillon fights a battle for life | VIVA MÉDIA Skip to main content

Luc Bisaillon’s universe changed in February 2020 when he began to lose the use of his left arm. At a time when COVID-19 was raging, the well-known Île-Perrot merchant and resident of Soulanges for 35 years saw his condition deteriorate rapidly: hand cramps, frozen fingers and within a few months, a completely weakened arm.

Luc Bisaillon keeps smiling even though he has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a disease that will shorten his life. (Photo Denis Bourbonnais)

Following a series of tests, the doctor’s diagnosis hit. The now 56-year-old man was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

For Luc Bisaillon and his family, the shock was sudden. His wife, Chantal Pontbriand, and his 28-year-old son, David, had to take over the family business, Aspirateurs G.B. Plus Inc., founded at the turn of the millennium. He had to face the fact that his life would be shortened because of this rapidly evolving neuromuscular disease whose outcome is always fatal.

There is no cure for ALS and Luc Bisaillon does not know how long he has left to live. “Every individual is different. It can take 3 months, 6 months or even a year or two before the inevitable happens,” he describes.

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis is characterized by the degeneration of the nerve cells that control motor muscles, resulting in gradual total paralysis of the affected person while their intellectual faculties remain sharp and intact. With the help of the medical staff and his entourage, Luc Bisaillon claims to have gone through the three stages following the diagnosis: shame, acceptance of illness and possible mourning.

“It is certain that the first three months were very difficult. I must admit that I am waiting for my death and my days are numbered, but I want to make the most of the time I have left. I regret nothing, I am serene with life”, courageously expresses the man who sold his dream property in the canal sector in Saint-Zotique to settle in Saint-Polycarpe in a house requiring less maintenance.

Luc Bisaillon had to deal with the fact that he can no longer travel and that he is restricted in his activities. “The progression of the disease is considered slow in my case. Others are more attacked, including in the lungs. At the very least, I can cook for myself and still function on my own.”

An experimental drug allows Mr. Bisaillon to extend his lifespan. However, he admits he took a big hit when recent test results indicated his right arm was weaker. “I took the steps to obtain medical assistance in dying if necessary. I have a clear conscience; everything has been planned for my departure. Everything is done,” he says.

By raising awareness via his blog on Facebook, Luc Bisaillon is fighting a battle for the lives of those who will contract the disease in the years to come. “A new drug could be approved but I think it is for the future. Personally, I want to raise awareness about ALS, which is still unfamiliar. To explain to people what amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is, I always have to refer to the Ice Bucket Challenge which was very popular a few years ago,” says Mr. Bisaillon.

Some 4,000 Canadians are affected by the disease each year, including about 400 in Quebec. Research continues to find a cure and Luc Bisaillon wants to promote it. “Mario Hudon talks about it a lot on the airwaves in Quebec City, but there is little talk about it in the Montreal region. I would like to be invited to television shows like that of Denis Lévesque to explain the roots of the disease,” wishes Luc Bisaillon.

Denis Bourbonnais


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