Cyclist crossing Canada to raise awareness about chronic pain

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Despite strong winds and drizzly skies cyclist Daniel Fugère said his trip across Canada to raise awareness about chronic pain has been amazing.

After starting out in Halifax back on May 1, the Montreal resident reached Saskatchewan in early June only to be greeted by persistent headwinds and overcast skies. The conditions haven’t affected him, though, as he’s still eager to get people talking and thinking about chronic pain.

“I think awareness is the key,” Fugère said during a brief stop in Swift Current on Monday before continuing on to Gull Lake. “Not enough people are aware of chronic pain. A lot of people are actually suffering every day and don’t even know what chronic pain is.”

To help promote the trip and raise funds for chronic pain research and treatment, Fugère partnered with the Canadian Pain Coalition (CPC), a group of health care professionals, scientists and pain suffers.

The CPC defines chronic pain as either intermittent or persistent pain that continues after on injury should have healed. They estimate that 18 per cent of women and 12 per cent of men suffer from chronic pain in Saskatchewan alone.

“A lot of people are actually surprised that there is such a thing as chronic pain,” Fugère said. “I kind of get this feeling that a lot of people are thinking about it afterwards.”

Fugère’s father, a doctor, first introduced him to some chronic pain sufferers and the incident left a firm imprint on the cyclist’s mind. He called it “an enriching experience” that allowed him to better understand what chronic pain sufferers go through.

“One of (the patients) was actually biking,” he remembered. “He fell and destroyed his wrist and 15 years later he’s still feeling the pain. Sometimes for four nights in a row he can’t sleep.”

The man’s injury cost eventually cost him his job, adding to the difficulties.

“A lot of people are affected by it, but we don’t talk about it as much as we should because it’s this thing that you don’t really die from,” Fugère added.

While debilitating pain is the primary symptom of chronic pain, it’s not the only one. The CPC says other symptoms include increased anxiety and depression, among other problems.

“It’s going to keep you from sleeping. It’s going to cause frustration, depression, in most cases, and, as I was mentioning earlier, it’s going to be very hard for you to be in any kind of relationship with anyone because,” Fugère said. “It’s very hard for other people to relate and to understand what you’re actually going through.”

While raising awareness is important, Fugère also wants to raise a bit of money too. So far he’s collected almost $5,000 for the CPC. He’s hoping to hit $10,000 by the time he reaches Vancouver in early July.

Swift Current residents hoping to donate can do so either by going to the Canadian Pain Coalition website, or dancyclescanada.ca.

Organizations: Canadian Pain Coalition

Geographic location: Canada, Saskatchewan, Halifax Montreal Swift Current Gull Lake Vancouver

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