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Christmas Fund: Monique can't remember what life was like before she got sick

Monique wants to use cannabis instead of morphine to deal with her pain and insomnia, but it's not covered by RAMQ.

Donations to the Montreal Gazette Christmas Fund this year can be made exclusively online at

Monique has been unable to work for nearly 40 years. After being pulled out of school at 16 to work at her family’s restaurant, she was able to hold down a job until her early 30s, when a host of ailments began to set her back. She’s lived with daily pain ever since.

“I was able to work for a time,” Monique said. “But I’ve been so sick for so long, I don’t remember what my life was like before that.”

Monique said she has too many medical issues to count, but the major ones are diabetes, fibromyalgia and vertigo. In recent years, she’s developed incontinence, and for a spell had to pay for her incontinence products out of pocket. Not being able to work, plus her many health-related expenditures, has put her in bankruptcy before.

When it’s time to get groceries, she’s faced with a tough choice: go in her wheelchair or pay to have them delivered. Her adult son sometimes helps out, but she’s estranged from the rest of her family. She doesn’t plan on seeing anyone this Christmas: her usual plans to take a bus to a friend’s home in Gatineau will probably be halted because of COVID-19.

In the past, she’s been prescribed morphine, which is covered by RAMQ, but Monique said the side effects can be just as bad as the pain. She’s trying to wean off morphine and move to cannabis, which helps with her insomnia. But that’s another expense she has to figure out how to pay.

“What kills me is the morphine is covered, but it’s dangerous,” she said. “I just want to use something that works and helps me live a better quality of life.”


This article is representative of the people your donations are helping. Because of resource limitations and privacy restrictions, the Montreal Gazette cannot accept non-monetary contributions. Donations to the Christmas Fund can be made exclusively online at Please direct all inquiries to

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