Seeing is Believing

Yohan is now in Graduate school in Claremont, CA. He is WALKING on his own 2 feet!  In fact, he’s walking A LOT!! Finding his way around the first day of classes was physically and mentally exhausting, and when he looked at his Fitbit at the end of the day, he had walked right around 5 miles – a record-breaking feat! And, he has much less pain, too, which was an unexpected benefit of the surgeries.

Thanks to Dr. Glenn Pfeffer’s relentless striving for perfection, he never, ever let us down. He remained by our side every “step” of the way. Thanks to Dr. Pfeffer, Yohan is walking better than ever before. We are forever indebted to him for his surgical skills, fabulous bedside manner, and the care and compassion he showed over the past 12 months. He’s an amazing doctor and a brilliant surgeon. We are forever indebted to him.

And special thanks to Robin Tobias, his longtime physical therapist who taught him to use crutches, gave him exercises to rehab his withered leg and tortured him for 2 months, twice a week, to get his legs strong and muscles stretched out. We love you!

Uncle Chris, who created and organized the Cycle 4 CMT events also played a special role in keeping Yohan upbeat and smiling during these past 12 months. Many others have been overwhelmingly supportive over the past year too and to everyone who supported Yohan through thick and thin, and to those who sponsored his most recent 1-mile walk for the Cycle (and Walk!) 4 CMT this year, he writes,

Today, I write this email from my studio apartment in Claremont, CA where I am in a graduate program, studying Psychology. I cannot tell you how grateful I am to be able to further my studies and move on with my life.

I am happy to report that I was able to walk a full mile during the Cycle (and Walk!)  4 CMT on August 27 (see the picture of my Fitbit below, if you want proof). Your continued support was instrumental in motivating me to work towards and eventually meet my goal. As you know, this year has been extremely difficult, but I have managed to push through, overcome the challenges and succeed! Your unwavering encouragement and friendship have truly helped me to keep my spirits up – the idea of giving up was never, ever an option.  I am eternally grateful for your generous gifts and steadfast belief in my capacities. Thanks again!


With Love,




Below are a few of the pictures, taken by my brother, George Ouellette of the Cycle 4 CMT event:


Yohan’s 1 and then some miles!


pic 6
Cycle Event – Me, Gilles, Cardboard Yo and Uncle Chris
pic 3
Cycle 4 CMT



Cycle 4 CMT


Group Photo!



Tonight, the house is much quieter, a bit too quiet, in fact. Gilles and I feel Yohan’s absence acutely. The first couple of days did not feel comfortable. We both experienced melancholy, pride, anxiety, and relief – relief that it all worked out which means that Yohan was able to pursue his dreams. We’ve talked to him off and on, and he’s adapting to his new digs very well and continues to walk as much as he can. When I asked him why he doesn’t bike to school, he says, “I like walking. It’s good for me.” Who is this child?  I wondered, too stunned to respond.

Why? Because 2 years ago, when Gilles and I encouraged him to remain active by biking for 10 minutes a day, he unraveled, “I do not like to exercise. I’ve never liked to exercise. Exercise does not fit into my life, now or anytime in the future. I have issues with fatigue, my feet hurt when I walk, and I have all I can do to get through every day, so please stop asking me to be active.”

Today, he sings a different tune. I mean, he’s no Arnold Schwartzenegger, but he wants to stay fit and ambulatory. When a basic function like weight-bearing is taken away, and you are lucky enough to get an improved version back (walking heel to toe with less pain), every step becomes a small miracle. Never will we take the small things in life for granted.

Thank you for being part of our journey. xoxo



6 thoughts on “Seeing is Believing

  1. annspivack September 8, 2017 / 8:51 PM

    I am so, so happy that Yohan is in grad school and settling in. When we spoke to him, it was so clear he was ready for takeoff. It sounds like he is soaring as much as he is walking. Thanks for this good news. xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

    • Susan Young September 13, 2017 / 9:41 PM

      This is so inspiring!! As a mother, I certainly feel your pride, as a fellow CMTer facing surgery, this gives me hope that things can be better. Elizabeth, when you have a chance I would love to chat,

      Liked by 1 person

  2. annspivack September 8, 2017 / 8:52 PM

    P.S. That cardboard cut-out. Y’all crack me up!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. therafun September 8, 2017 / 9:59 PM

    So excited to hear about the walking. Now Yohan can walk over to visit! Best wishes to you all on establishing your new lives. xo

    Liked by 1 person

  4. bestfootforwardweb September 8, 2017 / 10:52 PM

    Sara, Now that I am so lonely, I might be over a lot more. Just a heads up! Air conditioning or no air-conditioning!


  5. George Ouellette September 9, 2017 / 3:33 AM

    Way to go Yohan! It would be really nice to see a photo of Yohan standing next to cutouts of you and Gilles.


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