Chiropractic + Naturopathic Doctor

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Takin’ it to the Streets


March 28, 2011
By Jack Kohane

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Dr. Paul Poirier looks invincible straddling his cherished chopper. Like
a modern-day easy rider decked in black leather riding jacket and
chaps, at six feet, three inches, and tipping the scales at 290 pounds,
he’s certainly an imposing figure.

Dr. Paul Poirier looks invincible straddling his cherished chopper. Like
a modern-day easy rider decked in black leather riding jacket and
chaps, at six feet, three inches, and tipping the scales at 290 pounds,
he’s certainly an imposing figure.

There are many reasons this Cornwall, Ontario, DC merits the moniker of
Chiropractic Man of Steel, not least of which is the chrome-trimmed
V-Max muscle bike he zips around town and countryside on. He has built
Earthway Family Chiropractic (www.drpaulpoirier.com) into a thriving
practice; he is a teacher of anatomy and physiology at St. Lawrence
College; and he is an active member of the Canadian Chiropractic
Association, the Quebec Chiropractic Association and the International
Chiropractic Association. On top of all this, he’s raising three
energetic kids with his wife, Ginny. 

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streets  
Dr. Paul Poirier, poised atop his V-Max, before the first ride for brain cancer awareness held in Corwall, Ontario in 2010.


 

Foremost, Poirier is a powerhouse of resolve because of the implacable
foe he has been battling for much of his adult life: brain cancer. After
a succession of surgeries over the past 15 years, he remains determined
to beat it. And he wants to help others affected by the disease. He is
doing this by revving up the campaign he founded in 2010: Bikers Against
Brain Cancer. The organization thundered to its very first fundraising
ride last October with more than 50 cyclists tallying more than $3,000
in donations. It was only the beginning of what Poirier hopes will
become an international awareness campaign and fundraiser.

THE MAN
A native of Cornwall, Ontario, Dr. Poirier first attended Carleton University and, then,
received his Doctor of Chiropractic degree from Life Chiropractic College West in San Francisco.

 “I was in my final lap of training and close to graduating chiropractic
college when I had a seizure while playing tennis one California
morning in April 1995,” recalls Poirier, who was 30 at the time.
“Paramedics took me to the hospital where I was diagnosed with a mixed
glioma (Grade II).” Despite the shock, he now sees the seizure as a
blessing. “If I hadn’t collapsed, it may have been months before the
malignant growth was discovered.”

Poirier returned to Canada to have the tumour removed. Six weeks later, he was back in the Golden State.

“I couldn’t just sit around on the sidelines of life, throwing myself an
eternal pity party,” nods Poirier. He dove into his studies with gusto,
graduating the following year. It was soon after his first surgery in
1995 that he met Ginny. “Being I was still in school at the time, we
dated long distance for two years,” he chuckles.

But in February 1997 he had another seizure, blacking out while driving
his car at a railroad crossing near Ottawa. He was struck by a train
rolling at 100 km/hour. “I survived pretty much unscathed, but it
provided the spark for Ginny and I to remain together,” Poirier notes,
adding that they were wed in 2000. “She has been my rock ever since.”

For years after his initial treatment, Poirier continued to undergo MRI
brain scans to monitor the status of the malignant growth. Then in April
of 2005 it returned, prompting a second surgery. “Having had the same
procedure 10 years prior, I felt there was something definitely wrong,”
says Poirier.

streets2  
Paul Poirier with Dr. Gilles LaMarche, director, Parker Seminars


 

Weeks went by, but the post-op swelling of his head worsened. A CAT scan
confirmed an infection. “I had to be re-opened to drain out those dead
white blood cells, so within an hour I was re-operated on,” Poirier
frowns. For eight months he recuperated at home. “I couldn’t work during
this time, and my disability insurance refused to pay out (it was a
pre-existing condition), so we lived off what we had saved and we had to
sell off our X-ray machine and most everything we owned just to feed
the family and keep us going.”

Fortuitously, with their finances almost funnelled out, the opportunity
to enter into the Earthway Family Chiropractic practice, back in
Cornwall, arose. Poirier jumped at the chance to return to his hometown.
He inked the deal to take over the practice in mid-2008.

“I even re-bought my childhood house that my parents sold 20 years ago,
and now I’m reliving my youth through my young boys in that house,”
Poirier grins.

Fast-forward to late 2010 and the news of another MRI scan. “The tumour
had come again for an encore presentation,” sighs Poirier. But this
time, the growth was no longer operable, having invaded the motor cortex
and Broca’s area. For the next few months, the 44-year-old fighter will
rely on chemotherapy to combat the malignancy.

THE MACHINES
Recently, one of Poirier’s clients passed away from a brain tumour. He
knew he had to do something to get the word out about brain cancer.
Looking at his bikes (he also owns a KTM 450SXF supercross dirt bike),
the answer crystallized.

“I was then doing fundraising by riding for the OSPCA when the idea
hit,” remarks Poirier. “If I can collect money and raise awareness for
the plight of cats and dogs, why not the same for brain cancer?” That
was the ignition that set Bikers Against Brain Cancer in motion.

THE MISSION
If Poirier has his way, the ride will become an annual event. Following a
second ride that will see local DCs, their staff and families, and
patients roar into Cornwall on June 18, Montreal and Mississauga,
Ontario, will join in later this year. But, it won’t stop
there. Interest in the campaign has come in from municipalities across
Canada and the United States. All proceeds will go to the Brain Tumour
Foundation.

“The concept of the ride expansion can just as easily be done just as
well by a motorcycle enthusiast in Alabama,” says Poirier. “At the end
of the day, the goal is to get the message out there as much and as fast
as possible.”

streets3  
Paul
Poirier discusses expanding his brain tumour awareness and fundraising
ride with former California governor and body-builder, Arnold
Schwarzenegger.


 

Poirier has developed a website for the ride,
www.bikersagainstbraincancer.org , and will personally be visiting bike
dealerships in the municipalities where rides will be held, to
distribute information, bookmarks, pamphlets and posters to potential
riders.

Poirier has even approached ex-California governor, Arnold
Schwarzenegger, an avid motorcyclist, about lending his endorsement to
the ride. The two men met on March 5 at the 9th Annual Symposium on
Natural Fitness and Sports for 2011, held in partnership with the
International Chiropractors Association and Parker Seminars.
Schwarzenegger, an advocate for chiropractic who holds an honorary
doctorate in chiropractic from Cleveland Chiropractic College, sees
chiropractic as the ultimate profession for natural healing. Because of
his regard and support for the profession, and the fact that his own
family has been touched by brain cancer, resulting in the passing of his
uncle-by-marriage, Sen. Ted Kennedy, Schwarzenegger agreed to meet with
Poirier and discuss the ride and strategies for expanding it. (This was
quite a distinction, considering no one was allowed near the
ex-governor, a fact that was enforced by stringent security including
bomb-sniffing dogs.)

“Had I been in any other profession, I doubt I would have had access
to him,” Poirier notes, pleased that he was able to leave his
fundraiser’s poster and literature with Schwarzenegger, who agreed to
consider some mechanism for involvement.  

Poirier’s meeting with the ex-governor garnered him recognition from
various U.S.-based chiropractic groups who followed up with the Cornwall
chiropractor, requesting to interview him for a variety of venues.
Among these were Dr. Patrick Gentempo, who has already interviewed
Poirier for his audio broadcasts titled “On Purpose,” a popular service
with a broad-ranging subscription base.

“There are now thousands of American chiropractors who’ll also be aware
of the movement for brain tumour awareness,” says Poirier. “The ride
will grow into the U.S. market, sooner now, with all this positive
promotion.”

At the Fitness and Sports show, Poirier was also able to meet and
discuss his fundraiser with several chiropractors as well as fitness and
bodybuilding celebrities. He handed out posters and pamphlets, received
contact information and literature for DCs and bodybuilders across
North America and will be following up on these leads in the coming
weeks, continuing in his effort to expand the fundraiser from sea to sea
on both sides of the border.

“Chiropractors interested in raising the awareness of brain tumours in
their community just have to follow the marketing recipe checklist in
the kit, which includes letterhead, business cards, and pledge forms –
it is available at www.bikersagainst braincancer.org,” he explains.

Perched on his gleaming V-Max, gearing up to ride out on the highway and
race with the wind, Poirier looks ahead with confidence. “We all have
our glass half-empty moments,” he admits.

Then with a determined glint in his eyes, he counters, “But I have no intention of riding off quietly into the sunset.” •


Jack Kohane is a Toronto-based freelance
journalist who writes for several national health-care magazines and the
National Post newspaper.


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