By Kevin Damaskie
On Christmas Eve 2011 France Faucheux knew something was terribly wrong. Since July of that year, France, now 42, had been dealing with abdominal pain so intense she could barely think. Living a normal life and managing her cleaning business and caring for her family were out of the question.
A long-time Whistler resident, France loved the mountains, happily raising her family and building her business with her partner, Olivier. It seemed an idyllic life until pain intervened and turned the dream into a nightmare.
“I did know my body was very sick, but I did not know what it was. I couldn’t eat, couldn’t think… I couldn’t take care of my children, France says. “I was in constant pain.”
Although France says she was aware of the value nutrition held in her personal health care and meditated regularly, she turned to the mainstream medical system to try and get to the bottom of the debilitating pain that had changed her life, prompting weekly trips to the Emergency Room to seek answers and relief.
This continued for three months with countless visits and tests. Eventually, her doctor diagnosed France with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), prescribed Tylenol for the pain and told her to be prepared to deal with its chronic influence on her life – forever.
For France, this was not an option. She says she knew it was not only her colon that was affected. Her monthly cycle coincided with a severe increase in pain, and she could tell there was a hormonal aspect to her health challenge – typically not a factor in IBS. And despite the Tylenol, the pain persisted.
“Absolutely everything changed. I couldn’t take care of myself. My partner and I had a cleaning business… I was lucky as I have the best partner, but we still had to sell the business,” France says, recalling the changes this challenge was causing her family. “The world stopped turning. I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t sit. I had to crawl to the washroom. With two daughters aged six and a half and three at the time, I was not even able to be a mother, a wife or a woman… I felt lost.”
Almost constantly bedridden, France was getting desperate. The knowledge that there was more to this than IBS would not abate so she persisted, seeking a referral to a gynaecologist to see why her monthly hormonal rhythms were in tune with the singing pain in her guts.
The doctor denied her intuition, insisting IBS was the cause and was not willing to refer to a gynaecologist. France would not give up and she eventually found her way to the gynaecologist’s office March 26, crying from pain. The gynaecologist quickly arrived at a clear diagnosis of endometriosis and France was scheduled for surgery.
With a little research, France learned endometriosis and the associated pain was caused when fibroid tumours, made up of tissue typically found on the inside of the uterus, sneak their way to the outside of the uterus causing swelling and bleeding in conjunction with her monthly cycle. France’s surgery revealed those fibroids had also developed on her ovaries and colon as well as her uterus.
“I had an endometriosis diagnosis and 36 hours later I was in surgery,” she says. “They scraped the endometriosis tissue off the organs. When I got out of surgery, they told me my next options were hormone therapy, going back on the contraceptive pill and a hysterectomy, which I refused.”
Although she now had a correct diagnosis and the surgery, the medical professionals told France that she should prepare for a life of pain management through medication, a path she was not prepared to embark on.
In August of 2012, new neighbours moved into France’s Bear Ridge block. One of them happened to be Nicolette Richer of Richer Health. A fast bond developed between the two and soon France and Nicolette were discussing France’s health challenges and a way forward without pills and pain. With training in the Gerson treatment system, Nicolette showed France how changing to a plant-based, nutrient rich diet, coupled with supplements and regular coffee enemas would get to the root of her chronic disease rather than simply treating its symptoms.
“After what I had been through, I didn’t have trust in doctors because they would not listen to me and what I was hearing from my body. I was devastated by the way I was treated by conventional doctors. I tried craniosacral therapy and acupuncture. The acupuncture really helped to ease the pain for 2-3 days, but then it would come back. This is when I realized the problem was deep into my body. Getting the pain to go down for a couple days was not enough. I needed to find a way to make it go away,” France says of her quest for innovative ways to deal with her issues.
After a couple months of soul-searching and research, France dove headfirst into the Gerson therapy, juicing extensively and maintaining a rigorous diet, all under Nicolette’s guidance and support.
“Almost right away I felt a healing reaction. I could feel it inside and rather than just downs, I was starting to feel ups,” France says. “It made me feel alive again. It was so much better than all those times I felt like dying. After three months I could get up, move around, eat… I started to smile and play with the kids.”
Despite her desire to get better, the therapy was not easy. France followed the Gerson Therapy for 17 months even though she felt better within a few months of starting the therapy. It was the hardest challenge she’s ever embarked on but she stayed with the Gerson program for over a year to chase away the endometriosis for good.
“This is when I really needed to focus and stay with the therapy as I had no pain, I felt the endometriosis was gone and my cycles were back to normal,” France says “I felt like a woman again. Before this moment, I didn’t feel like France, I felt I had lost myself. Then I saw all the amazing people around me and these beautiful mountains of Whistler. I felt focused and welcome in the world. It was like a rebirth. I kept on the therapy for 17 months and I still feel good more than 18 months later.”
She still needs to focus on diet and nutrition to continue to feel healthy (as we all should) but the endometriosis symptoms have disappeared and without the spectre of chronic pain looming over her, life is back to normal in the mountains.
She shares the lessons she learned from her ordeal with family and friends. If she had to go through it again, France feels she would have taken control of her own treatment and her own body sooner, not giving her health over to the advice and direction of doctors, who were reluctant to use nutrition and healing foods as part of a treatment regime.
“We need to talk more about conventional medicine versus natural therapies,” she says. “Why would you expect a ‘system’ to take care of you? You need to take care of yourself.”