By Joyce Langerak
Penticton Herald, April 1999.
Jacques Gauthier of Montreal plans to cross Canada on foot to extol the virtues of a simple cure that has given him back his life.
Joining him his wife, Dorothée Lavoie, who for 10 years watched her husband’s health deteriorate until he discovered the yoga-like exercises that brought him to health. Their trek included a recent stop over in Penticton en route from Vancouver to Halifax. At 41, Gauthier was diagnosed with what doctors believed was vasculitis, inflammation of blood vessels, which began in his hands and feet and began to spread throughout his body.
At times, the pain was so excruciating he could not tolerate so much as the weight of a bed sheet on his swollen hands. He was prescribed steroids to retard the progression of the disease and was told he would have to take them daily for the rest of his life.
He was then told he would need a second medication to counteract side effects of the steroids.
At 51, his condition continued to deteriorate. He was diagnosed with osteoporosis and arthritis brought on by steroid use. Though doctors were kind, they could offer no cure. Over the 10 years, he spent well over 25 000$ on alternative health practitioners.
« I decided to stop all medication. I said to myself, ‘If God wants me in a wheelchair, I prefer it to be because of a disease and not medication. No more pills.’ »
When he stopped the medication, the pain was so overwhelming, he ended up in bed. « All I could do was pray and meditate. That was my life for six months. »
Dorothée continued to run the couple’s two Montreal-based businesses while Jacques remained in bed at their cottage two hours away.
Eventually, it was a call from a New Brunswick logger that prompted him to drive 1000 kilometres for one last try.
« When I talked to him on the phone, the first thing he asked me was, ‘Are you on drugs?’ I went there and when the guy saw me he said, ‘The only thing that will help you is stretching.’ »
Though it caused almost unbearable pain, Jacques forced himself to stretch his body through exercises similar to yoga poses that have been catalogued for centuries.
« The first time I touched my toes, I passed out, » he said.
Within three weeks, 50 per cent of the pain and symptoms he’d endured for more than a decade disappeared. Within months, he was free of pain and symptoms.
Now 60, Jacques is walking from Vancouver to Halifax to promote stretching as a way to regain and maintain good health.
He and Dorothée, 56, produced a professional video of 15 basic stretching exercises.
« We were amazed how many things you can get rid of by just stretching, » said Dorothée who, like Jacques, practices the stretching exercises for 15-20 minutes daily.
(Underneath photo) Jacques Gauthier and his wife, Dorothée Lavoie, passed through Penticton on a cross-country walk from Vancouver to Halifax. The two are promoting their videotape of 15 stretching exercises they say cured Jacques of a crippling disease that for 10 years caused him constant excruciating pain and was closed to crippling him.