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“I had herbicide everywhere…” After overcoming cancer at 33, Julien Guillard asks for compensation

Julien Guillard was 33 when he was told he was suffering from lymphoma. Seven years later, this former agricultural worker is cured but has fought this kind of blood cancer, since recognized as an occupational disease. Today, this machine operator is turning against several of his former employers for “inexcusable fault”. He hopes to obtain compensation for the “moral damage” he has suffered and to pave the way for other victims of the sanitary products he supports, via the Phyto-Victimes association of which he is the vice-president. His file will be examined this Wednesday by the social center of the Nantes court. He gave his testimony to 20 minutes.

“The dust was flying, my sprayer was leaking”

“After a discovery internship on a farm in 9th grade, I liked it, I wanted to work in the agricultural world. I started in the Sarthe, where I used a whole bunch of phytosanitary products without being careful, without any real protection or awareness of the risks. I remember the Gaucho, which made it possible to coat the seeds before sowing them. We put all that in a concrete mixer, the dust was flying, my nose was bleeding, I had a headache. My former boss, who has since died of prostate cancer, did that, we had no choice, no information. A few years later, I was recruited into a landscaping company in Strasbourg. There, I’m in charge of cleaning the curbs, the cobblestones… I have a sprayer with a lance, the problem is that it leaks, I’m soaked all the time on my back, I have it everywhere. Inside is herbicide, probably glyphosate. I worked like that for five years. »

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“I cough, I have trouble breathing”

“When I arrived in Nantes in 2007, I left the agricultural world and became a crane truck driver in public works. But in 2015 I cough, I have trouble breathing, I can’t sleep lying down anymore so I spend my nights sitting on the sofa. I don’t go to the doctor, leftovers from the agricultural world, where we don’t complain too much… until February 2016 when I have gastro. The doctor realizes right away that something is wrong. The cough, the marbling on my chest, the fatigue… The exams followed one another and the next day, she said to me: “You are 33 years old, you are in fairly good health, but you have cancer, lymphoma. The treatment will be painful but normally you will not die. It’s going to be hard but we’ll get there. My wife was then 7 months pregnant, my son was 4 years old… I was quickly told about potential recognition as an occupational disease, but I did not take the steps immediately. »

“Pesticides and gases, recognized as the causes of my cancer”

“I go through chemos and the problems that follow. In total, I do nine, until remission in August. I ended up putting together my occupational disease file… and while it is often very long and complicated for the victims, I won my case in barely 8 months. It was April 19, 2017, my birthday. The commission established that pesticides, but also exhaust gases were involved. In my work as a driver, my position was right next to the pots, I had the return of smoke when the winds were contrary… Satisfied, I decided to continue the fight with the Phyto-Victimes association, which I discovered. My idea is to return to agricultural high schools to raise awareness of the risks. Mentalities have evolved but there are still the same behaviors. With the Covid, we also saw the limits of the protections, the difficulties in wearing them, sometimes due to the weather conditions. Not to mention the lobbying of industrialists, who minimize the risks. »

“Close my case and show the example”

“Today, I am attacking three of my former employers for “inexcusable fault”, not because I blame them, but because I have rights, so I am going there. If I win, I will be compensated for the moral damage suffered. Because in terms of health, even if the cancer is under control, everything is not settled. I sometimes have neurological pain in my legs. There’s also the Sword of Damocles, the possibility of me developing Parkinson’s. Or the impacts on the family, like my son’s phobia about everything medical. The objective is finally to have a sounding board for the other victims. My association, which is fighting for the creation of a real compensation fund, has helped 650 in ten years, and there are more than 200 procedures in progress. So I want to close my case but also show the example. Tell concerned people who read this article that we can help them. It is very important for me. »


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