“I understood that we would no longer catch up with cancer”: the posthumous story of journalist Clémentine Vergnaud, who died at 31

“I understood that we would no longer catch up with cancer”: the posthumous story of journalist Clémentine Vergnaud, who died at 31


“There was a succession of complications and I had the feeling that we were always chasing the illness and that it was always one step ahead,” says Clémentine Lecalot-Vergnaud in the last episodes of her podcast published this Tuesday, comparing, not without humor, his cancer to the robber of “La Casa de Papel” who is always “one step ahead of the cops”. He’s the one who finally caught up with him. The Franceinfo journalist is died December 23 in her room at the Paul Brousse hospital in Villejuif, surrounded by her loved ones, in accordance with her last wishes.

The first part of the podcast met with unexpected audience success. “Honestly, given the austere subject we are talking about, I didn’t see who would want to listen to it,” admitted the editor-in-chief of Franceinfo and “father” of the podcast Samuel Aslanoff, in July. The web journalist revealed without embellishment how she had learned, at the age of 29, that an incurable cancer was attacking her bile ducts and creating metastases in her lungs and hips. A disease that affects one in 3,000 people and generally attacks older men and smokers or drinkers.

In the rest of her story, she recounts the terrible choice she had to face when her heart stopped working properly. “They ask me if I want to go to intensive care, in which case it will be with huge tubes in the groin (…) That means being lying down all the time, and with no guarantee that I will get through it. (…) I was unable to choose,” she says, judging that this episode was “the hardest of the hospitalization.” Ultimately, Clémentine Lecalot-Vergnaud preferred to let the doctors make this decision, believing that she did not have “all the cards in hand”. They decided that “the game wasn’t worth it,” she describes modestly.

“He said yes”

But as the young woman prepared for death and discussed her “advance directives” with doctors, “(her) heart has started again.” “It’s inexplicable,” she describes, before putting forward a hypothesis that she considers “trivial” but in which she wants to “believe.” “My partner, I see in his eyes that he is lost, he feels helpless. He comes closer to me and says: But what can I do to get your heart going again? And the only answer that came to me at that moment: I told him: Marry me. And he said yes,” she says.

The two lovers celebrated their union in Clementine’s hospital room, marriage under these conditions being authorized in the event of a threat to life. What follows is an intimate episode about the man who is now her husband, Grégoire Lecalot, about whom she spoke implicitly in the first part of the podcast. She talks about the difficulty of being both a husband and caregiver and the delicate question of intimate relationships. “I had a lot of suffering having intimate relationships and tenderness when the other person doesn’t know how to touch you without hurting you,” she confides.

Finally, the young woman describes the “relief” she felt when the doctors told her that it seemed complicated to continue the treatment. “There is a moment when you feel guilty, when you say to yourself: it’s me who’s giving up, it’s me who no longer has this strength and who lacks courage, ultimately. It’s very guilty. And to hear that, even in the voices of doctors, it would be a mistake to cling to this point, it did me a lot of good,” she explains. She understood, she said, that we would no longer “catch up with the illness”.

All that remains is to break the news to his loved ones. “Relief” gives way to fear. “It was the fear of this moment when, definitively, I will close my eyes and where I don’t know what will happen next,” she describes, her voice trembling. “It’s hard because I have family who live quite far away, it’s terrible not knowing if we’ll see them again. » She concludes the series by thanking the listeners. “When you are sick, you go through a lot. If I could help at least one person (with the podcast), I am a thousand times happy. »



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