Presenter: Neal Howard
Guest: Dr. Paul Poirier
Guest Bio: Paul Poirier is a chiropractor, motorcycle enthusiast and brain cancer survivor who turned his personal struggles into a way to help others. He’s working on an international ride with Bikers Against Brain Cancer across the U.S. and Canada. His upcoming documentary, THE TEST OF A MAN, is narrated by Ian Anderson and contains a clip from one of Schwarzenegger’s movies. His book by the same title will be released later this year. Visit www.drpaulpoirier.com and www.bikersagainstbraincancer.org.
Dr. Poirier discusses his enlistment of celebrity support in his fund raising efforts. He also touches on how implementing Chiropractic techniques, positive outlook, and community involvement help patients to cope with terminal illnesses on an emotional level. Also discussed are methods by which patients can determine how and when to choose psychiatric help.
Health Professional Radio
Neal Howard: Hello, you’re listening to Health Professional Radio. I’m your host, Neal Howard. Our guest today is Dr. Paul Poirier. He is a chiropractor, motorcycle enthusiast, brain cancer survivor and fundraiser. He is here to talk with us today about his efforts to raise awareness around the globe about brain cancer. How are you today, Dr. Poirier?
Dr. Paul Poirier: Very good. Thank you, sir.
Neal: Great. Great to have you here with us. You’re now on a quest, as it were, to raise awareness about this disease, and some of the things that we may not know about it. You’ve also elicited the help of many celebrities in your efforts to raise this awareness through your motorcycle enthusiasm as well. Is that right?
Dr. Poirier: You’ve got it. You’ve hit the nail on the head.
Neal: Great, great. Tell us about that.
Dr. Poirier: Well, at the end of the day, I had been … I started collecting money as well for cats and dogs in my area. We had a ride every year to try to collect money for them. It dawned on me one day at about 60 miles an hour that, “Why don’t I create my own ride for my own cause and grow that?” So it went from collecting money for the SPCA to collecting money for brain cancer. Then I had to come up with a name for my cause, and I decided that Bikers Against Brain Cancer seemed to be a good title for it.
Neal: Sounds great.
Dr. Poirier: [indecipherable 01:19] braincancer.org.
Neal: Being a survivor yourself, you’ve had a very personal and emotional and spiritual stake in this endeavour as well, yeah?
Dr. Poirier: Yeah. Obviously, most people that are involved in cancer awareness, it’s usually people that are not necessarily … they themselves having gone through it. I guess I’m more of the exception to the rule because … and everybody is different. Some people, they circle the wagon, and they … and they internalise it. They don’t want others to know about their problem, if you will, whereas I live my life on my sleeve, and there’s nothing that people don’t know about me essentially. That includes my brain cancer.
I’m very well-known in my own area for the fact that these rides have created a higher profile for me. Of course, having gone out and met with Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2011 was a definite boost for creating awareness for the cause because … and since then, I’ve been given permission by his people, his lawyers, to utilise parts of the film that he was in, called Kindergarten Cop, which is part and parcel of this documentary film, which can be seen at www.testofaman.com.
Neal: That is the title of the documentary film, Test of a Man?
Dr. Poirier: Yes, Test of a Man, exactly. My own story, if you will, can be seen or discussed or dissected even more at my own website that I created, which is www.drpaulpoirier.com. The film is now about 90-95% complete. We’ve already submitted it to several film festivals, which was what Arnold’s people had recommended to me when I’d asked, “How would you go about spreading the message further and wider and deeper?”
It finally came to be that the best way would be to create a documentary film, which is submitted in multiple film festivals throughout 2013–2014. This film itself is only roughly 30 minutes long, but it’s a good way to get people to understand it a little bit better. Within the film, I’ve been able to secure a rock legend, Ian Anderson, who is the founder and lead singer of Jethro Tull, which was as big of a band as they get in the early ‘70s.
He’d opened with Led Zeppelin, he’d opened with the Rolling Stones, Black Sabbath. He’s a well-known artist, and he was willing to narrate the film, and he did a great job. As far as I’m concerned, it comes across very well, because I’ve obviously seen the cuts of the film over and over. I think it’s going to come across really well once it’s out.
Neal: Great. Now, you also say that no one helped you financially though your struggles with your own malignant cancerous tumour. How did you get through that emotionally?
Dr. Poirier: You have to remember a couple of things. I’m in Canada, and with Canada, we have specialised medicine, which is one of the reasons … when I graduated from an American school, one thing that I was offered was a work permit, for having been there for four years. But I opted to come back to Canada, because as you know, I’d had the … my first seizure not too long before.
Then, I had come back to Canada for my first brain surgery. But now, upon graduating, I had this piece of paper saying I could stay there, but I was too worried that I might not be able to get coverage if something happened in the States.
So fear kind of took over, and I ended up opening a practice in the Montreal area. But of course, that might have been the right decision to make, because I’ve since had the need for three or four more surgeries, which cost, on average, about $100,000 each.
Dr. Poirier: Plus, then the cost of the post-op, because normally they keep you in the hospital four to seven days after the surgery, and that’s about $20,000 a day in the U.S., minimum. It would have added up pretty quickly.
As far as having dealt with the financial aspect, like the chemo, for example, was partially covered by what we have here, our insurance policy. Part of it I had to pay out of pocket. But at the end of the day, I always come back to the same thing – it is what it is, and I’m dealing with it as best as I can, and I can’t change it, so I might as well just deal with it as best as I can. It has gotten me through many situations to date.
Now, what I am doing is I’m trying to create rides in the U.S. throughout as many Americans cities as I can, to spread the gospel, if you will, of brain cancer awareness, and get some monies collected, where the monies will be going to the … who I deal with is the Paediatric Brain Tumour Foundation, which has a website, which is www.curethekids.org. Basically what they do is they collect monies for people that have had all kinds of issues.
Usually it’s children that are … and children unfortunately get it worse than most people. Because, for example, in the States, there’s roughly 28,000 children suffering with it … been diagnosed. A lot of them are out there that haven’t even been diagnosed. Eleven new kids get diagnosed every day in the U.S. It’s becoming more and more of a chronic problem, unfortunately.
Neal: As far as your chiropractics goes, how had you been able to implement that as far as staying positive, staying healthy? What would you say to others who may be suffering from brain cancer or any other types of cancer, going through the chemo and the post-operative things? How would they implement chiropractic into that?
Dr. Poirier: Everyone and their dog should be under … and literally, their dog should be under care as well. Any vertebrate benefits by seeing a chiropractor. Everybody has their own reasons for going. Unfortunately, as you might imagine, a lot of people only go see somebody when they have a problem. Or they have that old belief, “When it’s bad, then I’ll do something about it.”
I try to get people, from an early age on, to understand that health is not a privilege. It’s something that you have to … you’ve earned it, or if you want to maintain it, you have to earn the right to maintain it. There’s things that we have to do – avoidance of things like … be it cigarettes, be it whatever vices we might have, or not drinking enough water.
There’s a lot of things that people don’t do that I try to get them to do, in my own clinic, my own patient base, to do more of, eat better, eat healthier, avoid certain things, don’t drink any pop. It’s about the worst thing you can put in your body.
Dr. Poirier: Oh, yeah. The amount of sugar, and then people say, “Well, then I’ll have the zero,” or “I’ll have the diet version.” Then you’re just talking aspartame, which is just as bad. It’s a neurotoxin in the body. We could talk for an hour and a half just on that subject alone.
But at the end of the day when people say to me, “How do you recommend I deal with my situation?” Well, again, it comes down to a case-by-case situation. Some people need emotional support, because they themselves may not even be having cancer. It might be their wife. I have a lot of people that are clients, but it’s not them that are suffering with the problem, but they’re dealing with being [inaudible 08:35] to the person that’s suffering.
That can be just as hard, if not harder, to deal with than the person. Like for me, I’m going through what I’m going through quite easily. But that’s because I have a very strong support network. I’ve got a wife who’s been by my side like no other – that’s a huge difference. If you don’t have that, it makes it a lot harder on people. If you have a good support network … or, if you don’t have a good support network, then make one, create one.
For me, I joined a local service club. Just having these 30-35 guys around me all the time, it gives me more motivation to do something with myself. Not enough people pay it forward by being involved with the community, by giving back in their own way. Even if you’ve got cancer, even if you’ve got AIDS – whatever you might have, if you’re able to, get involved with your local Lions club, your Rotary club.
Do something else. Do something proactive towards helping people in your [inaudible 09:30] and you benefit ten times over what … it costs you a little bit of effort and time, but what you gain back from it is … you can’t measure it.
Neal: Basically, your mindset, when a crisis rears its head, is of utmost importance in staying positive during your crisis.
Dr. Poirier: Oh, yeah.
Neal: Yeah. Now, you mentioned a support group and getting involved. Are there any other things that you learned personally about how to stay positive through a crisis that maybe you hadn’t been aware of before your situation?
Dr. Poirier: Well, I think it’s like anybody who gets diagnosed with a condition. I think … well, maybe not for everyone, but for me, it changed my perspective – things that mattered as much. I was like the next guy – I wanted to be the next Donald Trump or somebody who’s done very well in their field. I still want to do well, but money is not a factor for me like it used to be.
As long as my family’s fed, as long as there’s a roof over our heads, I’m happy as can be. In that sense, for me – I can only speak for myself – it doesn’t matter as much as it might have when I was younger. My goals altered, they morphed, over the years. I’m much more interested in … at this point, this is my passion, is to create as much awareness, because … I don’t know. It depends on which doctor I talk to.
Some doctors say I’ve got ten years to live. Some say I’ve got a year-and-a-half. There’s a lot of … there’s no specific person that can say to me, “You’ve got 6.7 years and that’s it, that’s all.” I have to just live every day like it’s my last one.
That’s what I tell my patient base and people that I meet – “Live every day as if it’s your last. Eat well and do everything you can.” If you can avoid vices, that’s going to help. Another thing that I offer as a chiropractor, beyond chiropractic manipulations, is I’m also … I do a lot of smoking cessation by using a laser, and to try to get people off the cigarettes, which is another huge burden on our society.
Neal: Yes. Now, as healthcare professional yourself, what would you say to other healthcare professionals, whether they be doctors of chiropractic, or practitioners of traditional Western medicine – what would you say to them when they encounter someone who’s got the same condition as you, or a similar condition? What would you say to them as far as dealing with their patients?
Dr. Poirier: I would probably recommend that they have them see someone for emotional support because … and again, it comes down to how do you deal with it? Mrs. Jones might deal with it completely different than Mr. Smith, just for the fact that she was brought up in a different way. I was brought up with very strong parents. My father was an alpha male, and he’d done very well for himself in business.
I’d had that laid-down foundation to start with. Not everybody is so fortunate. Sometimes if you start off in life, and you have no real support network, then it’s that much harder to get off the ground. It really comes down to a case-by-case of who’s in front of you.
I can’t say for a fact that what worked for me will work for the next person. But I do recommend – and I see a psychiatrist, not because I feel I need one, but because I feel it’s good to open up and unload on somebody once in a while.
That’s what my psychiatrist is for, and he’s very good. I’ve been with for many years. That’s the one thing I recommend to people – get yourself a qualified person. It doesn’t have to be a psychiatrist, it could be a psychologist, or a close friend. It could be anybody that you feel that you can unload and truly be yourself with. That’s the most important thing – that you have to strip away all the fat and try to get to the core of what’s going keep that person motivated to live as long as they can, and not worry about tomorrow, but live for today essentially.
Neal: Great. You’re listening to Health Professional Radio. Dr. Poirier, our guest, is a chiropractor, motorcycle enthusiast. He’s also a brain cancer survivor, most important of all, and a fundraiser with Bikers Against Brain Cancer, organising rides across Canada and hopefully in North America as well, in his efforts to raise awareness globally about brain cancer. Thank you, Dr. Poirier, for speaking with us today.
Dr. Poirier: Thank you, much appreciated.
Neal: All right. Transcripts of this program are available at healthprofessionalradio.com.au.