Success is not giving up

Melanie LeclercA diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis put a damper on Mélanie Leclerc’s performance-driven life. But the 44-year-old from Carignan, QC decided she would not let the disease control her life, even if at times the pain in her hands made it impossible to braid her daughters’ hair.  

With the ongoing support of her family and friends, she took part in many Arthritis Society activities. One thing led to another, and she is now using her voice to inspire others facing similar journeys.  

August 2008: as daylight breaks through the curtains, it seems to be a morning like every other. Mélanie Leclerc, mother of two young girls, ages four and six, is getting ready for a family outing at La Ronde, Montreal’s famous amusement park. 

Her ankle feels a bit numb but she doesn’t think much of it; she ran long distances yesterday, as usual. However, for a trained athlete like Mélanie, the sensation is out of the ordinary. She brushes it off. 

A few hours later, while waiting in line for the rides, there is no doubt something is awfully wrong. She can barely stand, her ankles and knees shooting intense pain signals. She is puzzled and worried. What could this mean?  

In the following weeks, she quickly consults her GP and a rheumatologist, and even receives a few cortisone treatments. The verdict is baffling: she has rheumatoid arthritis. The words echo in her head for weeks. 

“At first, I couldn’t believe it, I was young and healthy. I told myself it would go away and I remained cheerful. But I ended up hitting a wall”, says the now 44-year-old. 

For a high-achieving, performance-driven woman like Mélanie, it was the end of her “Superwoman” life. She couldn’t hold back the tears; she was mourning the loss of her past life. But the feeling didn’t last long. A new Mélanie would be born, stronger, like the Phoenix rising from the ashes of a past life. 

She would not let the disease control her life, even if at times, the pain in her hands wouldn’t allow her to simply braid her daughters’ hair, causing her great sorrow. With the constant support of her family and friends, she then took part in many Arthritis Society activities.  

One thing lead to another, and the Carignan, QC resident’s “can do” attitude would go on to inspire thousands of people to get moving, on a daily basis.  

You see, Mélanie chose to tackle a project she would have never contemplated in the past. She created a Facebook page, where she open-heartedly talks about her disease and shares daily health tips, workouts ideas and nutritious recipes.   

“My diagnosis cornered me into rethinking my priorities and easing the pressure I was putting on myself. I focused on what’s essential and opened myself to others. It was hard at first but it pushed me out of my comfort zone. I take pride in that.” 

Today, nearly 13,000 people follow Mélanie’s page and her story. Her open, raw and honest approach to living with arthritis moves her followers and motivates them to live a healthier lifestyle. Her page resonates with anyone willing to push his or her boundaries.  

It’s tagline? Success, is not giving up.   

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