Presenter: Neal Howard
Guest: Dr. Paul Poirier
Guest Bio: Paul Poirier is a chiropractor, motorcycle enthusiast and brain cancer survivor who turned his personal strugglesinto a way to help others. He’s working on an international ride with Bikers Against Brain Cancer across the U.S. andCanada. 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 complications with his surgery and what treatments were required. Also discussed are his Brain Cancer Awareness effforts and fund raising activities.
Health Professional Radio – Surgery and Complications
Neal Howard: You’re listening to Health Professional Radio. I’m your host, Neal Howard. Our guest is Dr. Paul Poirier, chiropractor. He’s also a brain cancer survivor. He’s here to talk to us about his struggles and triumphs with this disease, and how others can do what he’s done. How are you doing today, Dr. Poirier?
Dr. Paul Poirier: I’m very good, thank you.
Neal: Now, you’re a brain cancer survivor. You’re also a fundraiser, motorcycle enthusiast, chiropractor. What exactly has been the outcome of your diagnosis with brain cancer?
Dr. Poirier: Well, everybody deals with adversity in different ways. I was put in a situation where I had to either number one, stare it down, or curl up in a ball and let it define the rest of my life. I opted for the former, not the latter, because I gave myself a pity party for about ten minutes after being diagnosed. Like anybody might, I had my moment of weakness, and I cried for about ten, fifteen minutes. From there on, I just decided, “You know what? It is what it is. I have to move beyond it and not let it take charge of my destiny.”
Neal: A lot of people may not be able to come to that conclusion so quickly, or even at all. What helped you to arrive at that conclusion that you were just got to push on, move through it, no matter what?
Dr. Poirier: My philosophy has always been more or less, without sounding too strange, but I tend to try to suck it up, buttercup. That’s been my philosophy with dealing with this because I can’t change it. It’s like anything else, if—well, what you should do is [inaudible 01:42] . You’re involved now. You have to be involved. You have to step up to the plate. By the same token, if you’re given a condition, well, it’s there, what are you going to do about it?
Well, you have to deal with the situation – good or bad. At the time, they didn’t know what kind it was right off the bat. It took about a couple of weeks before they figured out all the details. Then, that’s when I found out that it was the kind it was, and what would have to be done in order to rectify it. I was not that knowledgeable about all the kinds of tumours. I’ve spent the last 15 years learning more and more and more about the different kinds of tumours that exist, and which ones are more deadly than others, and all those kinds of details.
Neal: Now, what about the kids that are afflicted with this? Is it something that strikes children more, or adults more?
Dr. Poirier: Well, it’s funny, because I affiliated myself originally here in Canada with the Canadian Brain Tumour Foundation, and also to the Montreal Neurological Institute, which is basically Canada’s equivalent to Harvard as far as … it’s part of McGill University. It’s the best place in Canada for brain tumour research and diagnosis and follow-up care, etc. But beyond that, now that I’m essentially bringing my cause into North America, beyond the borders of Canada, I’m affiliating myself with National Paediatric Brain Tumour Foundation, located out of Asheville, North Carolina.
They have a website there, which is rideforkids.org. Basically that’s one of the ways that they collect money is towards … because as an adult, it’s a lot easier, I think, to deal with than if you’re a five-year old or seven-year old. It’s because obviously you didn’t get to enjoy all the milestones that you have had the opportunity to have. My rides, when I started four years ago, every year, we have a ride and every year, we champion a child that had a brain tumour, that’s done the chemo or that’s on the radiation, etc.
We just had our 2013 ride last month, and we highlighted a young girl who’s gone through the whole gamut, and she’s doing well now. But it’s affecting a lot of kids … the exact number, I can’t tell you, in the States. But I have read on certain websites that it’s one of the highest causes for children dying at this point in the U.S.
Neal: The type of malignant cancer that you have is not exclusive to adults, and your awareness efforts run from adults to children. Is that correct?
Dr. Poirier: And everything in between.
Neal: Yeah, everything in between, great. Great. Now, I was looking at some of your story. In 2005, you had a growth removed, and it resulted in some complications. Could you talk about that a bit?
Dr. Poirier: The word in the medical field, is iatrogenesis. What that means is the person’s gotten worse for whatever reason, despite what we did for them. They had a negative reaction or their body did not accept the tissue or whatever it might be. In my particular case, it was … I contracted what’s known as a staphylococcal infection, which was quite often … We have the staph bacteria on our hands. It’s there all the time. Again, you can’t really control it all that well.
But I don’t know if somebody coughed in the operating room, or something got dropped on the floor. I don’t know. I was out to lunch, obviously, but, for whatever reason, I ended up contracting the staph infection. If you ever hear somebody say that the hospitals are understaffed, don’t believe them. Overstaffed.
Neal: Overstaffed, yeah.
Dr. Poirier: At the end of the day, I had the surgery. But there was basically … that was not so much of a surgery to remove another tumour. It was a surgery to clean out my … they call it a lavage. Basically, they clean out … they rinse out your brain. They pop the hood, they remove the skull. At that point, my skull had putrefied actually, from being exposed to the … because the stuff that builds up in your brain was … it’s pus basically. It’s dead white blood cells.
Those cells tend to eat away at the lining of the skull itself. Then, they could not put back in my skull because it had putrefied. And then for seven to eight months, I had to wear a special pouch with a PICC line. A PICC line is a peripheral intra – something something catheter. It’s basically a three-foot long wire that they put in your arm and it goes pretty close to your heart. What it does is it’s connected to this bag of antibiotics. It’s a sulphur-based antibiotic which … its purpose is to kill any lingering cells or pus that did not get caught with the lavage.
I had to keep that on for about eight months or so. I couldn’t work during those eight months, because of the fact that my own immune system got depressed from it. Somebody could just cough on me, it would be enough for me to possibly develop pneumonia. Yeah, I had to be kept more or less segregated from my patient base.
Neal: What did they do in order to bolster your immune system during this? You’ve got an infection. You’ve got to wear a special pouch. You’ve got this PICC line in. Your immune system is probably screaming, “What’s going on?” Did they do anything to help with your resistance?
Dr. Poirier: No. It’s a typical situation. Not all medical doctors are probiotic in terms of [indecipherable 07:19] recommending is probiotics of some kind or be more proactive towards stimulating my immune system. But that’s not the … I can’t speak for how it would have been handled by Dr. House or something of that nature in the U.S. But with the surgeon that I had, nothing had been recommended as far as … oh, we recommend you take this to stimulate your immune system. I just did what I’d learned in school. I took things like greens plus and a variety of things. I tried to keep it as strong as possible during those eight months.
Neal: Now, you say these are some of the things that you learned during your medical training. They were mostly natural alternatives just to keep your immune system bolstered?
Dr. Poirier: That’s the thing. As a chiropractor, we are much more prone to finding things, solutions, the natural route versus the surgical route, or whatever—the injection route, if we can. But there are situations where somebody will not respond to anything other than the surgery for certain situations. But there’s a lot of people that do benefit without the need for surgery for some situations. You have to figure that out when you meet them. It’s a case-by-case situation.
Neal: You’re listening to Health Professional Radio. Our guest today has been Dr. Paul Poirier, chiropractor, also a brain cancer survivor, telling us a little bit about his efforts to raise awareness about brain cancer in adults and children through his fundraising efforts, through the Paediatric Brain Cancer Foundation and www.rideforkids.org. It’s been great having you here with us today, Dr. Poirier.
Dr. Poirier: Thank you for having me.
Neal: All right, and I’m sure we’ll have an opportunity to speak with you again about your experiences with brain cancer.
Dr. Poirier: Much appreciated.
Neal: Transcripts of this program are available at healthprofessionalradio.com.au.