Pascale Bouchard

Executive Director, Leucan

“We meet people who are going through terrible ordeals, they are a powerful source of motivation. We act as a compass in the storm they face. It’s a privilege for me to be able to play a role in this great mission."

Executive Director of Leucan, Pascale Bouchard is an altruistic fighter. She does not hesitate to dive head first to help her neighbor and defend the causes that are close to her heart. With gentleness, humanity and touch of madness, she has managed to bring together a dozen inspiring women for the Les Audacieuses campaign. These women who lead with their heads and their hearts, agreed to have their hair shaved for Leucan, by her side.

“I hope that we send children with cancer and their families an extremely powerful message of solidarity and that they welcome our gesture with open arms. I also hope that this movement of solidarity will create a great wave of inspiration among the public, especially among women."

Year after year, barely a third of the participants in the Leucan Shaved Head Challenge are women. Pascale Bouchard wants to reverse the trend. “We want every girl, every woman to be able to identify with Les Audacieuses. We have brought together women from different backgrounds and who, in everyday life, would have never met. They’re uniting for Leucan in a joint, strong movement." Our goal is to show a representative mosaic of the women of Quebec today, by focusing on cultural, physical, professional and generational diversity.

“We know that it is more difficult for women to have a positive body image, it can hold us back. If leaders agree to have their hair shaved, we hope that these barriers will fall. We hope women will join us in large numbers to create a movement founded in solidarity."

Consistency test

Though she is the leader of the pack, Pascale Bouchard still has a pit in her stomach. She will bid adieu to her long red hair. “I’m scared. Sometimes, I think I'm a little crazy for doing this and getting these women into this. But I get a grip and remind myself: it's just hair, it grows back!" The mother of three teenagers, Pascale has always insisted on emphasizing that the value of people is not defined by their appearance, but rather by their behaviors and the values ​​they carry. “With Les Audacieuses, I’m in a consistency test. I have to walk the talk!"

Since being at the helm of Leucan, the idea of ​​participating in the Leucan Shaved Head Challenge has made headway. On a few occasions, she almost took action. “My partner wasn't too keen on the idea, although he was ready to support me. He finds the Les Audacieuses project tremendous. This time, he has no reservations and is cheering me on. If I want to do it once in my life, this is the perfect opportunity!"

Leucan, through and through

Pascale jumped in completely, mostly because she devotes herself with passion to Leucan. “We meet people who are going through terrible ordeals, they are a powerful source of motivation. We act as a compass in the storm they face. We see the negative, the sadness, but we also see a lot of beauty and generosity. It impacts all facts of my life. It’s a privilege for me to be able to play a role in this great mission."

Leucan provides support to families, accompanies bereaved parents, and helps fund research. More and more, help is deployed differently. “Today, the survival rate for pediatric cancers is around 85% after five years. It's great, of course. On the other hand, up to 70% of survivors will live with sequelae associated with treatment, such as learning difficulties, memory loss and problems concentrating. For many, the damage is severe. Before I arrived at Leucan, I was not aware of that. We’re working to raise awareness. We have developed a financial assistance fund, convinced the government to set up a financial aid program for oral and dental services following cancer treatments, and we have a project to help young people who are struggling to stay in employment."

A splash of colour… or maybe not

When she goes under the razor, Pascale Bouchard will think about all the young people she has met over the years. Those who survived, and those who are no longer with us. “I wouldn’t want to get too emotional, but I'm going to think about the littles ones that have left us. Their image is etched in my head and in my heart forever. I also want to live the moment serenely and joyfully. I will certainly feel a sense of accomplishment for having led this project."

In the week before, she plans to dye her hair. “I won't shave it completely, I'm going to keep some hair and I don't want it to be white! I’ll also do my makeup." She doesn't fear the immediate outcome. “When hair is very short, the eyes and smile shine bright. There is an aura that emerges." It's the in-between that worries her, what she calls "the hair clip festival." Her hairdresser has already reassured her, she will suggest hairstyles for her. “I'm doing it by choice, I have to relax and have fun. I’m thinking of playing with my color. Who knows, I might be blonde next summer!"

“In the gloom of the past year, this positive project will sure do everyone good. It will be good for the morale to put forward inspiring role models, to present a constructive project, to see the bright side."

Photographer, Andréanne Gauthier; stylist, Simon Venne (Judy Inc.); hair & makeup, Alper Sisters (Teamm Agency)