Major Patrick Lévis

Major Patrick Lévis

In 1992, while still in high school, I joined the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) as a Naval Combat Instrument Operator Reservist.

Upon graduation the following year, I transferred to the Regular force and continued my studies at the Royal Military College of Canada to become an Infantry officer. The reason I joined the CAF was not for the job but to be part of something bigger than myself, the challenge it offered and the comradery. It was a decision that I never regretted.

Throughout my military career, I experienced several physical, mental, and emotional challenges from sleep deprivation during training to dealing with friendly casualties following improvised explosive device (IED) strikes. Over the years, these challenges helped build the perseverance and resilience required for what was about to be my hardest struggle.

In January 2019, I received the dreaded news that I had a cancerous tumour, the removal of which would require radiation followed by surgery. I lost my ability to walk. The excruciating pain and the ongoing rehabilitation that followed were amongst the hardest challenges of my life, but thanks to the perseverance and resilience I had developed over the years, I have been able to get through my moments of despair.

This new disability impacted many activities I used to enjoy. However, it did not stop me from finding new opportunities. I am grateful for organizations that exist for people living with disabilities as they allow myself and others to continue enjoying life. The BC Wheelchair Sports Association and Soldier On have enabled me to remain active with sledge hockey, wheelchair basketball to scuba diving. In January 2020, I participated at the Soldier On Western Scuba Diving Camp in Comox, BC. I knew this was going to be a challenge, both mentally and physically. Fortunately, I was part of a group with other military members that bonded together and helped each other out. This activity quickly turned into a most reassuring and enjoyable experience because of the teamwork, esprit de corps and professionalism.

Living with a disability may pose new challenges in life and be difficult at times, but with proper personal and organizational support, the efforts to overcome and the satisfaction of success far outweigh the struggle and disappointment.

Rob Gagnon

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