Jess Ainscough finally admits her condition is deteriorating


Not being Australian and, for some reason, never having encountered her promotion of "natural health" online before, I first encountered Jessica Ainscough, also known as "The Wellness Warrior" over a year ago when I learned that her mother Sharyn Ainscough had died of breast cancer. Her mother, it turns out, had rejected conventional treatment for her breast cancer and chosen instead the quackery known as Gerson therapy. It's a treatment regimen based on long-discredited view of how cancer forms and that requires the consumption of boatloads of supplements and the administration multiple times a day of coffee enemas. Unfortunately, for a long time Jess herself has been on the same path, apparently inspired by her mother's tendency for woo, a tendency that ultimately led to her death.

Jess, you see, has a rare cancer known as epithelioid sarcoma. To recap, in 2008, lumps started popping up on her left arm and hand, and she had them biopsied. Make no mistake, this is a rare cancer; recent figures for incidence are on the order of 0.1 to 0.4 per million. It's a tumor of young adults, which fits with Ainscough's presentation, and it nearly always appears on the upper extremities. Wide excision is the only effective treatment. Unfortunately, given the extent and location of Ainscough's lesions, the only potentially curative therapy at the time would have been to have her arm amputated at the shoulder, a procedure that sounded to me like a forequarter amputation. It's a horrible operation, one that's seldom done any more (thankfully). In fact, I've never done one or even seen one done, and I'm glad about that.

So, when Ainscough was diagnosed with epithelioid sarcoma of her arm, it's not surprising that she balked at such a disfiguring operation to cure it. Indeed, reading her story, I felt a lot of sympathy for her. She was only 22, with her whole life ahead of her to look forward to. So she tried alternatives that were part of science-based medicine, such as isolated limb perfusion, a technique in which the limb is temporarily isolated from the rest of the circulation and perfusing it with chemotherapy solution. It's a technique that is sometimes used to treat melanomas of limbs or, of course, other sarcomas. It worked, but only temporarily. Her tumors recurred about a year later. So doctors recommended amputation again, and it was at this point that Ainscough rejected conventional medicine in favor of the Gerson protocol and The Wellness Warrior was born.

As is so often the case when a person chooses quackery instead of effective medicine and does well, at least initially, Ainscough attributed her good fortune to all the "natural" treatments and dietary modifications that she adopted. Indeed, she went further. She made a whole career out of it as The Wellness Warrior, aided and abetted by credulous reporting. Meanwhile, she's done pretty well, but that's not particularly surprising. Epithelioid sarcoma is not among the most aggressive of sarcomas. Its ten year survival overall is on the order of 61%, and for patients between 17 and 30 years (i.e., patients like Jessica Ainscough), it's approximately 72%. Of course, that is with treatment with surgery; without surgery, five year survival is 35% and ten year survival is 33%. This implies that there is a subset of these cancers that is fairly indolent, as the vast majority of patients who are going to die of their disease do so within five years, with additional deaths after five years being relatively few. What this further implies, given that Ainscough never underwent surgery, is that she was lucky enough to be in this group. In other words, she's another case in which the quackery didn't save her; she was fortunate enough to have slowly progressing disease. The first time I encountered Ainscough, I was reluctantly forced to predict that her sarcoma would almost certainly get her in the end. As I pointed out, it could take years, but it would happen, as Ainscough gave up her one, best chance, of survival a few years ago. I can totally understand why her fear led her to make that choice, but there was a price to be paid.

Several people had noticed over the last year that Ainscough had been hiding her affected arm and that, in photos in which she couldn't totally hide it, her arm was looking worse. Meanwhile, on her Facebook page, any photos of her seemed staged or cropped specifically to hide her left arm. I've revealed to you on many occasions that I subscribe to a lot of crank and quack e-mail lists, the better to provide me with blog fodder. (The things I do for you.) Well, I'm on Ainscough's list, too, and I just received a depressing and disturbing update:

Wow, it’s been so long between blog posts that I’m almost feeling a little shy. My gosh, I’ve missed you though. It was definitely not my intention to take so much time off. When I left you back in June to begin a period of self-care hibernation, my plan was to get my health back in tip top shape and then spend some time creating some awesome new stuff for you. The reality, however, is that I’ve spent the whole time focused on my health. For the last few months, I’ve been pretty much bedridden. Let me fill you in on what’s been going on with me …

This year absolutely brought me to my knees. I’ve been challenged, frightened, and cracked open in ways I never had before. After my mum died at the end of last year, my heart was shattered and it’s still in a million pieces. I had no idea how to function without her, and it turns out my body didn’t either. For the first time in my almost seven year journey with cancer, this year I’ve been really unwell. I’ve lived with cancer since 2008 and for most of those years my condition was totally stable. When my mum became really ill, my cancer started to become aggressive again. After she died, things really started flaring up.

I'm truly saddened to hear this. The question that first came to my mind when i read this was this: What does she mean? How bad is it? It's pretty bad:

I’ve had scans to detect what’s going on in my body, and I can report that the disease is still contained to my left arm and shoulder, however I do have a big fungating tumour mass in that shoulder that’s causing me dramas. Over 10 months of non-stop bleeding from the armpit has rendered me really weak (and uncomfortable) and as a result I’ve had no choice but to stop absolutely everything and rest. Tallon, my freaking hero, has had to step up and help me with everything from making food and juices, doing all of our housework and laundry to doing my hair.

So, in other words, Ainscough has the sarcoma equivalent of carcinoma en cuirasse, tumor that's eroded through the skin and has started to bleed. This is bad. Really bad, given that this tumor mass at the shoulder is apparently bleeding enough to render Ainscough weak, from which I conclude that she's losing enough blood to render her symptomatically anemic. It's not unreasonable to assume that Ainscough is minimizing the effect of these tumors on her ability to function in daily life. After all, she's built her entire reputation on being the "Wellness Warrior." To admit that all the "natural" dietary alterations and treatments that she had relied on for so many years have come up empty can't be easy. Even worse, "The Wellness Warrior" lifestyle is more than something Ainscough had relied on. It was her brand, a brand she sold to thousands through books advocating Gerson therapy and various other woo, speaking appearances, and media interviews. Those of us who were paying attention had noticed over the last year or so that those appearances were more and more carefully managed to hide Ainscough's left arm, as I pointed out in January. Now we know why.

So now that it's clear to everyone that Ainscough's woo isn't working, what is she going to do about it? To be honest, I'm not entirely clear that there's much that can be done about it any more. Assuming Ainscough's report is accurate and the tumors are still confined to the arm and shoulder, it's still possible that a forequarter amputation could help her. Sure, it's a radical and disfiguring operation that no one wants to undertake, but if the tumor hasn't spread beyond her shoulder, there's still a chance an amputation might safe her life. Alternatively, it's often possible to palliate fungating tumors with radiation therapy. Is Ainscough considering either possibility?

You know the answer. She's been staying in bed, which is reasonable (albeit seemingly in conflict with her photos on Facebook over the last couple of months showing her out with her friends), during which time she's been feeling all sorts of sad emotions, which is completely understandable. She's been lurching from anger to sadness, which is a completely normal reaction to such a setback. Unfortunately, it isn't clear whether she's been been moving forward towards making a decision regarding treatment options that might actually help (or at least palliate) her condition:

I’ve also spent my time doing lots of research into treatment options. I’ve been speaking to doctors, healers, and specialists and I’ve been completely opening myself up to attracting the right people who will help me heal – whether they are from the natural medicine world or conventional. My beliefs have been completely shaken up and I’ve had to drop any remnants of fear and ego that were preventing me from exploring these options sooner. I’ve discovered that when we completely close ourselves off from something, the universe will sure enough give us an experience that makes us see that everything has a place. It’s been completely eye-opening and very, very humbling.

I believe that as a result of my willingness to stop controlling my healing path and surrender to whatever the universe has up its sleeves to help me, I’ve attracted the most amazing healing team. I’m working with an oncologist who is kind, caring and non-judgemental – completely unlike any of the specialists I worked with in the early days of my journey. When we are open and in a state of surrender, the right people/situations/tools will appear. Final decisions and plans are now in process and I’ll keep you in the loop in the new year.

Remember how I discussed how The Secret is the central dogma of alternative medicine? This sure sounds rather Secret-like, except that, instead of wanting something badly enough and thus bending the universe to bring it to you, you have to basically give up and surrender to whatever you think the universe wants to bring to you. Either way, it's magical thinking in which the universe will always provide you what you need. It won't.

Actually, re-reading this, I see reason for hope. I get the feeling that Ainscough has made a major decision and is setting her "Wellness Warrior" followers up for it. Note how she says she's working with a "non-judgmental" oncologist, not an alternative medicine practitioner. This suggests to me that she might finally be ready to take some form of conventional treatment again, as long as she's allowed to do her woo alongside conventional medicine. In fact, I have to wonder if she's finally decided to undergo forequarter amputation, giving the seeming finality of her announcement. Or maybe she's decided to undergo chemotherapy to try to shrink the masses again, followed by forequarter amputation. I hope so. As horrible as that operation is, there are reconstructive surgical options to make the end result ultimately less so.

As for the reason for the tone of the announcement, sure Ainscough knows that such a decision, if indeed she has made such a decision, would be profoundly disturbing to a lot of her followers, to whom she had previously preached the message that all the quackery (like the Gerson therapy) that she had been following, along with dietary modifications and healthy eating, would keep her cancer at bay indefinitely. On the other hand, perhaps she doesn't really have to worry. Judging from the overwhelmingly positive comments after her announcement, a few of whom appear to have guess what I guessed, namely that she's decided to "go conventional medicine" again, I doubt she has much to worry about, although there are comments with advice ranging from suggesting that it's necessary to do Gerson every day for the rest of your life to other quackery like myofascial release, emotional freedom technique, low dose naltrexone, and the like.

I sincerely hope Ainscough has chosen conventional treatment of some sort. If she hasn't, I can't help but foresee a slow, lingering, unpleasant death for her, a continuation of the process that's brought her to this point now. Being a cancer surgeon, I just can't stand to see anyone suffer like that. It's true that it might now be too late, that Ainscough squandered her one best chance at long term survival back in 2008 when she refused surgery, but at the very least there are palliative options for her. And who knows? It might not be too late. At least, I certainly hope it isn't. I hate to see a bright, intelligent young adult cut down in her prime, but I hate it even more when it's as a result of choosing quackery over medicine. That's why I'm really hoping that this isn't just a prelude to choosing a new form of quackery and instead is Ainscough preparing her followers for a decision to turn back to medicine.


As pointed out in a comment below, already there are comments to Ainscough basically telling her she wasn't doing Gerson therapy "right" and that's why she's suffering now. For example:

hi jess. i’ve followed you for several years and i’ve wondered if your cancer would get worse – based on what i saw you doing with your diet in particular. i’m gonna be honest with you with my only intention being to help you. everybody is entitled to their opinion based on their experience. i’ve always wondered if you read gerson’s original book (minus what charlotte added to the book). i honestly believe that if you cut back out all animal products, all added oils and fats (including flaxseed oil which i personally consider to be one of the most toxic of all oils) and most of the vitamin supplements you are taking except the B12 injections and iodine which i apply only to my skin because of it’s voltility (most vitamin supplements are toxic to the sick body as gerson said in his original book – and it’s something i have found in my own illness and it’s also discussed in the book called WHOLE – by Colin T Campbell), then i think you’d find that your heath would improve again. the flaxseed oil and most of the vitamin supplements are kicking your liver and bloodstream while they’re down. it’s not just the active ingredient in synthetic vitamin supplements that’s the problem, it’s all the fillers and other crap that was made in some factory probably in china with the cheapest ingredients they could source. many, many overt fat free or low fat, high fruit (and veggie) vegans have recovered from aggressive cancers – brain cancer etc etc etc. – without the use of synthetic vitamin supplementation and added oils. admiring the likes of david wolfe and reading about all the other stuff you had in your diet told me you were off the mark a tad. also, even thinking that a higher protein and fat diet could help you with your health (when you did that experiment) also told me that somehow you’d lost your way with what is scientifically proven as a diet for health recovery (i refer to caldwell esselstyn and colin T campbell’s work). i recommend you look up megan elizabeth, fullyraw kristina, raw synergy tv and even freelee the banana girl on youtube to see how these women look amazing and have overcome health issues and have needed minimal vitamin supplementation and virtually no oils to achieve that goal. anyways, good luck with your journey. leesa

Yes, sadly Jess Ainscough can expect a lot more of this sort of thing if she continues to get worse or if she decides to "go conventional" and undertake conventional medical treatment of her cancer. On the other hand, there is also a testimonial from someone who "went conventional" after doing quackery:

Jess, I know first hand how difficult it is to go from 100% natural to being forced through the progression of the disease to use medical treatment. I felt like a failure that I didn’t cure myself when I had read the stories, listened to the ‘gurus’, had done what they said and still couldn’t stop the disease. Eventually I hated these people who I felt had sold me snake oil. My eating became very disordered and it has taken a good 18 months to find balance. I can now understand that all the advice and ideas that I was depending on to cure me probably won’t but that they are still absolutely necessary to support my body through the chemical treatments that have also worked surprisingly well. I felt like a traitor to myself the first few months of treatment. But now I embrace everything that might help. I don’t think I am saying it right (I simply wish to offer empathy) but thank you for sharing your experience and I hope you really have reached some kind of peace. It is not easy to come by after what you have been through. Have a lovely Christmas and I cannot wait to walk beside you all the way through 2015 and beyond ❤️

If Jess decides that Gerson treatment is necessary to help her deal with chemotherapy or surgery, I'd be OK with that (at least I wouldn't object too strongly) as long as she's using science-based medicine and Gerson therapy isn't interfering with it.

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Two months ago, I took note of a somewhat cryptic blog post by a young woman named Jess Ainscough. In Australia and much of the world, Ainscough was known as the Wellness Warrior. She was a young woman who developed an epithelioid sarcoma in 2008 and ended up choosing "natural healing" to treat her…
Since I've been complaining about credulity in the media reporting on cancer this week, in particular the way local reporters Carol Robidoux and April Guilmet published articles that were nothing more than regurgitations of propaganda from Stanislaw Burzynski, I figured I might as well go all in…
"I don't want knowledge. I want certainty!" --David Bowie, from Law (Earthlings on Fire) I know I've already said this once, but I have to say it again, but it's been a rather stressful week on the old blog, but I hadn't planned on writing about this particular topic again (although I will say that…
Recent articles in The Daily Mail and The Australian reminded me that it's been over a month since the unfortunate demise of Jess Ainscough, a young Australian woman who was diagnosed with an epithelioid sarcoma of her left upper extremity in 2008. Before I get to the articles, a brief recap is in…

It is really sad that she didn't embrace a more rational form of "wellness" from the beginning, one that looked at the statistics for all her options, then chose the one with the best outcome. She still could have been inspiring and marketable as she blogged the journey of healing from such a rare and disfiguring disease. "Cancer survivor" always inspires, and rare diseases more so.

I was thinking back to my 20s, and honestly wondering if the lack of maturity at that age affected her decision-making. The "ick" factor in imagining the amputation and how it would look might have made it very appealing to "try something else," even if there were risks.

Hoping she is scared enough to change her mind and that her oncologist isn't someone who recently graduated and was taught woo as credible alongside their regular courses.

Beautifully written, Orac. Very, very difficult subject to address.

By reasonablehank (not verified) on 16 Dec 2014 #permalink

I looked up fungating breast cancer some time ago prompted by a RI post. The images really stick in your mind.

I have the deepest sympathy for anyone in Jessica's position.

However these events and her response to them affect more than Jessica and her followers and fans. The Wellness Warrior is more than one person. It's a brand. It's a business. There are people who rely on the money that it brings in. How will they react?

Thanks for keeping up with these cases Orac.

By Paul de Boer (not verified) on 16 Dec 2014 #permalink

I'm in the midst of that murky,dark pre-solstice greyness that descends ominously like pall yearly.
And now I read about Jess.

I wonder how much she and her followers have been influenced by ubiquitous altie prevarication about SBM choices for cancer? I hear interminable rants against it and then read glowing reports of those who have foiled cancer through raw foods, enemas and positive thinking.

I keep hoping that one of those who were tricked would speak up and perhaps influence others in the same predicament- I hope it's her. She sounds as though she might change her protocol to include something more reality- based. But did she have to wait so long and bleed so much?
( And I haven't forgot that she's also led people astray).

Probably her deterioration will be blamed ( by die hard advocates) on her lack of resolve or her earlier SB treatment.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 16 Dec 2014 #permalink

Probably her deterioration will be blamed ( by die hard advocates) on her lack of resolve or her earlier SB treatment.

Of course it will. You know the drill: woo cannot fail, it can only be failed.

I can feel some sympathy for Ms. Ainsclough. She didn't have any good options, only bad and worse. The problem is that she chose one of the "worse" options.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 16 Dec 2014 #permalink

There are already comments that are indirect "slights" against Jess - that she wasn't "positive" enough or didn't concentrate on healing energy enough, etc.

They truly eat their own.

My suspicion is that any addition of conventional therapy at this point will, in hindsight, be blamed for the adverse outcome by her followers. The exact sequence of events will become irrelevant with the passage of time - the narrative will become that she appeared healthy for years in the photos while doing her Gerson therapy and coffee enemas. But then she slipped in a transient moment of weakness. And with just few months of conventional medicine it all fell apart, the story will go. Correlation by imagery will be far too powerful to be challenged by reason or chronology. Gerson: happy smiling girl. Chemo, radiation, surgery: dead Warrior.
So very tragic.

By CTGeneGuy (not verified) on 16 Dec 2014 #permalink

"Over 10 months of non-stop bleeding from the armpit..."


So young and pretty, and obviously smart. The ones to blame are those who sold her the woo. I see her as yet another victim of peddlers of unproven treatments.

All those months that she claimed she was "getting better" and "feeling great."

What a bunch of BS - she was dying the entire time.

To be fair, we all are dying. Her case was just a bit more obvious.

SBM has a real problem with these rare or aggressive diseases. The tools to treat and cure are slim to none. When SBM tries its limited approaches to dealing with these intractable problems, it fails often. Rather than accepting the inevitable, people find themselves victims of fools, cranks and charlatans.

Denice Walter #5 wrote:

Probably her deterioration will be blamed ( by die hard advocates) on her lack of resolve or her earlier SB treatment.

Maybe. From the quotes above though it sounds to me like she's setting up "grief over her mother's death" as the culprit.

This is I think a common method of trying to avoid "blaming the victim" -- turn it into a variation called "empathizing with the victim." If only the patient had not been so grief-stricken, so bullied, so beaten-down, and so emotionally scarred by horrible people and events -- then it would have worked. They couldn't just 'think positive' because life was too unfair to them. So see how we're NOT 'blaming' them?

That assumes there is a right way to do Gersons...


Interesting how in that post the author is implying that only the original virgin text of Gerson's method will work. A parallel to religious thought and the assumed 'sanctity' of their given holy book, and how if you err in any way no matter how small, you are a failure/will fail.

Back to the main story, I must say I feel decidedly mixed about accounts such as this. Cancer sucks. The fact she is going through that at her age is beyond unfair. I am 34 and can't imagine dying now, let alone when I was 22. But when you look at the fact that she was going out of her way to hide her arm while still stumping for SCAM is deeply unsettling to me.

How many of her readers will follow her lead in avoiding SBM for any cancers they develop? IMO she has done some pretty great harm with her 'Wellness Warrior' campaign.

I wish her well and hope that SBM can return her health and perhaps she will understand her error and try to put things right.

@EBMOD - I was just looking through the most recent (i.e over the past year) pictures of Jess & in every single one, her arm is either completely covered or carefully hidden behind a person or artifact / item, so that it could not be seen.

In a couple of shots, you can see her fingers, which progressively look worse over time...and I agree, she was either deluding herself (ignoring the fact that her condition was visibly worsening & subconsciously hiding it from both herself and the public) or she was actively hiding her condition to see more books and merchandise.

At the end of the day, I do feel very sorry for her - for no one should die of a condition such as what she has, but I also do feel a bit angry that there are people who followed Jess' example and are dead now because they abandoned or never tried conventional treatments.

I'm sorry to hear she's doing poorly.

I'm disgusted by the backhanded 'sympathy' from Gerson advocates.

I hope she chooses amputation and evidence based medicine - she's too young to lose her life to woo.

Now long before someone, either here or elsewhere, accuses His Perspex Personage (or he that often plagiarizes Orac's content for SBM's site) and minions of "reveling" in her suffering, perhaps even going so far as to say it was the "negative vibes" from such that are to blame for Ms. Ainscough's problems?

Sorry for the cynical comment, but I have lately been dealing with similar thinking in a different sphere of operations.

whatever the universe has up its sleeves to help me
Not the best choice of imagery, under the circumstances.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 16 Dec 2014 #permalink

@ Sastra:

Whilst surveying woo, I've heard this many times, courtesy of Null and others:
there are different ways of blaming based on how much the failing person was valued by the woo-meister: e.g. his brother failed because he just couldn't deal with the exacting regime, i.e. he was weak and NEEDED to eat meat and sugar and drink coffee ( rather than shoving it up his arse). Thus his cancer came back.
However, their sainted mother ( a medical intuitive and sensitive -btw-) who was so deceived by doctors because she was trusting ( they gave her HRT and she died of a heart attack). So the former was a bad person but the latter was the victim of a bad person.

Isn't attribution theory fun to apply in real life?

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 16 Dec 2014 #permalink

I was sorry to see Jess's post yesterday. Hard situations almost always lead to bad choices, and for a 22 year old the choices must have looked pretty grim. Let's hope she can be made comfortable and find some peace in the very confusing (to her) place she has landed.

Let's not forget that Jess, AKA the Wellness Warrior, lied to her followers and the public claiming that she had been cured and giving the credit to Gerson therapy and woo. She has been asked several times to tell her followers the truth and has refused.

If some other poor sod has been persuaded by Jess to forgo SBM, that was unconscionable.


i feel for her. but part of me is pissed at her too. she turned her own mother away from conventional treatment; she might have lived longer if she hadn't pushed all that baloney on her. and people have bought into her malarkey. i've had the occasional dust-up on teh faisboox with people i consider friends over this shit.

I hate woo. I hate it. Passionately. The people who spout this stuff, that lettuce can cure cancer and the like, should be silenced and reeducated.

I am a leukaemia survivor. I was told I had a 10 - 20% chance of surviving at diagnosis. I'm also a medical student. I started it after my first bone marrow transplant 2 years ago and since then - it's helped me heaps. The medicine I'm getting post tranpslant, azacitidine, I brought up to my doctor and even suggested its possible mechanism of action (which researchers agreed was probably how it worked) after looking it up and my doctor agreed and luckily I got that medicine.
I also write about my whole journey through the cancer, my experiences of it all, how I stayed happy and how I put my mind on my side to just be as happy and as healthy as possible - to jack my odds up that tiny bit further - so that I could survive.

Since doing that - indeed, since getting cancer in the first place - believe me - I've had all sorts of ideas and "therapies" thrust at me from people who'd suddenly become experts or people who proclaimed themselves experts - things like drinking wheat grass juice to juicing to cutting out glucose from my diet.

But what I've also got to know better than most is how us patients feel when going through this thing. I think she, and other survivors who knowingly hide or cover up the things they did to promote another cure (if they really KNOW that it wasn't solely responsible for their "cure") are abhorrent. They're leading other patients who're going through hell into more and more pain and possible death.

For those who don't know better, and truly believe they're been helped by those things (which they may well have in some part - it can't be ignored that some simple things like a healthy diet and exercise improves outcomes slightly, exercise in particular has been shown to improve outcomes in patients going through bone marrow transplants for instance), they truly believe they're doing good... I totally understand them and their desire to spread that "knowledge" but it does need to be debunked.

But just some of the comments and iterations made above fail to acknowledge the simple fact that the horrible procedures we patients have to endure to get better - not everyone wants to go through that! Here, we're talking about an amputation. That's NOT something ANYONE wants. I know diabetes patients would rather risk death than get their feet amputated. Saying she should have taken the curative option and implying she's stupid for not doing so above is harsh and unfair - THINK about what you're saying I would say to some of you. Even chemos suck. Either they sap you over time, leaving you literally, a husk of your old self, or they leave you so sick for weeks on end and fatigued from months afterwards that you wanna end life. And many patients do want to.
If you guys can't understand WHY some people would be willing to try anything else than go through that horror - or if you can't act as if you do, or acknowledge that when you're talking to someone and trying to convince them to take the proven therapy option - then you won't get through to those most scared. Of course there are woos who spread misinformation and miracle cures, often for profit, often from ignorance, and they should have their theories debunked. Including this lady's.
But honestly guys... think about it from the patients shoes if you're ever talking to them. Put yourself in their shoes if you want to convince them of taking the best option. Cause if you don't... if you act as an uncaring, unsympathetic person when talking to them - you'll only push them further into the woo.
Musings of a Med Student Patient is my blog btw.

By Nikhil Autar (not verified) on 16 Dec 2014 #permalink

I read her post slightly differently to you Orac. Rather than "The Secret" type of thinking I think she is opening up to whatever needs to be done. She is still clouding it in woo terms though with words like "surrendering to the universe".
I felt particularly hopeful when I saw this statement
"My beliefs have been completely shaken up and I’ve had to drop any remnants of fear and ego that were preventing me from exploring these options sooner."
I sincerely hope she does pull through. I know people say that she lied but I think she was just as deluded as any of her followers. I think it is brave of her to come forward and admit that she was possibly wrong.

By Maureen Chuck (not verified) on 16 Dec 2014 #permalink

My money is on an amputation. It pains me to admit it, but I'm worried she will go into remission and will still be able to claim that Gerson and the other crap were helpful.

By Evidence-based (not verified) on 16 Dec 2014 #permalink

@Nikhil Autar:

I can't be a hundred percent certain, but I suspect most here actually have a great deal of sympathy about the choices she has been left with. Their comments instead reflect their frustration that woo is shared everywhere with the credulous accepting its claims. Because some of its proponents knowingly or unknowingly (depending on circumstance) sell its cures as 100% effective with no side effects, a frightened patient can feel comfortable choosing an unproven alternative because glowing testimonials assure the patient there are no risks and guarantee a cure.

They care deeply for patients. They loathe woo and its ultimate outcomes.

Hi Orac. As a therapy radiographer I have been following Jess the 'Wellness Warrior' with horror and a morbid curiosity for some time. This is a great blog but the start is the other way around. Jess had cancer before her mother and it was Jess who convinced her mother to forgo conventional treatment for Gerson because 'it had worked so well for her', not her Mother's love of woo that swayed Jess.

By Miss Jelly (not verified) on 17 Dec 2014 #permalink

A good chunk of my frustration doesn't come from Jessica. The psychology is simple and easy to understand. Amputating a limb is more than a loss of function, it's a loss of identity and in some respects it's a loss of control and control is a lot of what woo is all about.

It's the selling of a someone who happens to be a stereotype of what a young, healthy woman should look like:
white, slim, long blonde hair, gleaming smile.

A lot of people are going to look at her and think "She doesn't look like she has cancer. She doesn't look sick. Whatever she's doing must be working!".

Is that it? Is that all it takes? Wanting something to be so and finding someone who appears to prove that all you need to do to beat the C-word is to eat better and think positive thoughts?

People beat up on doctors for not telling them what they want to hear. They find Suzy Spokesmodel who does tell them that everything will be okay and that's all they need.

I understand the appeal but if it wasn't cancer and Jessica, it would be another disease and another set of perfect white teeth and beguiling smile.


A lot of people are going to look at her and think “She doesn’t look like she has cancer. She doesn’t look sick. Whatever she’s doing must be working!”.

Quite. Sadly the only thing that seems to be working is hiding her left arm whenever a camera is pointed at her. This is a horrible, heart-breaking tale, and I have the deepest sympathy for Jessica, though I am simultaneously disgusted with her for hiding her condition and misleading other people into following her down the woo rabbit-hole when she must have known it wasn't working. That's the problem when someone has a lot invested in a belief system: it's very hard for them to admit they were wrong.

Like Denice I'm concerned she might be heading down the road to Hamer and his despicable Germanic New Medicine. I see one of the comments on her blog claims that her condition is due to her emotional state, a form of victim blaming that seriously p!sses me off.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 17 Dec 2014 #permalink

In the last 12 months, as well as bearing witness to her own body's betrayal, she has seen and made mention on her blog/FB page of two similar Nutrition-Cures-Cancer inspirations as they've gone down the same path. In July Belle Gibson - "Healing Belle" admitted her cancer has vastly metastasised, though after that one brief mention it 's been back to rose-coloured inspirational Instagrams ever since ( probably due to her current promotional tour) Like Anj mentioned above - another young vibrant pretty young thing - you could almost mistake her pic for Ainscough in the news article. Polly Noble's death from cervical cancer in May affected her similarly - perhaps she had been as in the dark about the true deterioration of Noble's condition as anyone else following her website (To this day not a mention of the fact that she is dead on the "Polly's Path" site.)

By janerella (not verified) on 17 Dec 2014 #permalink

I'm confused. Coffee doesn't occur in nature. Enemas don't occur in nature. Why are coffee enemas natural?

By justthestats (not verified) on 17 Dec 2014 #permalink

Coffee doesn't occur in nature.

You mean I woke up to a cup of unnatural coffee this morning? Say it ain't so, Joe!

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 17 Dec 2014 #permalink

Krebiozen is correct and victims ARE blamed for their emotional state- which occasionally garners a measure of sympathy for them- some woo-meisters will blame them for not adequately addressing their emotional issues and stress.

OBVIOUSLY they did not meditate daily, de-stress correctly, manage their qi through Qi Gong, become spiritual and beyond self concern. There are journal writing and prayer as means to still the troubled soul as well as devoting oneself to charity and humanitarian causes or seeing a holistic psychotherapist or energy healer.

So it's their own fault.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 17 Dec 2014 #permalink

It is hard to read this article but it is well done and an important message. I hope it helps others understand how science-based medicine is trying to help us.

And, of course people with devastating diagnoses are worthy of our empathy, even their fear is worthy. It is understandable to ask about alternative therapies but one must make decisions based on evidence, not the rhetoric snake oil salesmen peddle with their woo. It is dangerous to follow the advice of faith healers, which is what these people are. They are relying not on evidence, only on faith. I have looked into so-called alternative therapies for my health and my children's but I also discussed everything with an MD and made sure there was actual evidence to back up claims. And I never risked anyone's life in doing so.

Ignorant question:
If the palliative option were pursued immediately, could one live be to old age with that alone?


You mean I woke up to a cup of unnatural coffee this morning? Say it ain’t so, Joe!

Unless you tossed some raw unroasted coffee beans in the blender, I am afraid so and stop calling me Joe.

By Militant Agnostic (not verified) on 17 Dec 2014 #permalink

Unless you tossed some raw unroasted coffee beans in the blender, I am afraid so and stop calling me Joe.

I depends what you mean by 'natural' I suppose. I bought some green coffee, or rather a blend of regular and green coffee once. Just the once.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 17 Dec 2014 #permalink

Militant Agnostic

Unless you tossed some raw unroasted coffee beans in the blender, I am afraid so ...

I prefer to think of that as minimally processed. But I am not a raw beanist.

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 17 Dec 2014 #permalink

Gentlemen: I kid you not!
( see Metropolitan**

"We recommend s.a. Wilson's Therapy blend
Clinically proven, Lab tested
100% Cert. organic enema coffee"

** official website of the infamous woo- nurse

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 17 Dec 2014 #permalink

Ms Ainscough is also a big fan of Louise Hay, the Godmother of cancer quackery. That affirmation at the end of her post is straight out of Hay's "You Can Heal Your Life" -- a book about how every illness from leprosy to muscular dystrophy is caused by negative thoughts and lack of forgiveness/acceptance, and of course can be healed by the affirmations in the book. (The only thing Hay can't cure and can't accept is wrinkles -- she's clearly had several face lifts.)

I think Dr Orac is exactly right about the central dogma being the law of attraction. It takes on many forms, but a strong element of it is that it stands as a proxy for OId Testament -type "God's judgment". Hay is a fanatical Christian, but she toned it down in the late 70s and aimed straight at the New Age market rather than the Christian faith healing market.

This poor woman will be blamed repeatedly for bringing the wrath of God (aka like attracts like / negativity >< negativity) upon herself.

Make sure it's a natural blender.

By justthestats (not verified) on 17 Dec 2014 #permalink

Oh and -btw-
S.A. Wilson has a website as well.
The coffee itself is GOLD.
At least, that is, on the way IN.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 17 Dec 2014 #permalink

Considering how efficient the colon is at absorbing whatever liquid is in there, seems like regular use of coffee enemas would be a good way to spike your blood stream with caffeine and possibly induce elevated blood pressure.

I know that coffee enemas are generally viewed as more comical than harmful, but I do have to wonder just what damage you can cause with them. For regular enema's, maintaining electrolyte balance can be a serious issue. Compounding that with caffeine doesn't sound good.

Or am I way off and they use decaf.

to the young med student above, I think all of the commenters have a deep sympathy for Jess and indeed anyone with cancer. And we're not arguing her treatment choices were utter crap. The thought of a major amputation at the age of 22 should give anyone pause for a good long think. But what frustrates everyone here is that instead of going with through with the amputation (horrible as it is) her best shot at survival she did a 180 straight into the arms of quackery. Then, not content to use it herself, she then became a major promoter of the quackery to the extent that her own mother used it to the exclusion of conventional therapy which for her could have almost certainly saved her life. That is the part that sticks in the craw of those of us who want to see SBM flourish. I understand they mean well, they always mean well. The people pushing the snake oil are 'nice' and 'friendly' and they guarantee good results, heck not good, great results! Its the old adage personified, if something sounds too good to be true it probably is. I feel for this young lady and I hope that she accepts treatment and its not too late for an amputation to save her life. At the very least I hope that she can get effective palliative care and pass from this world as pain free as possible. But I can't forgive the woo marketing. She has done harm, good intentions or no, and that is not a good thing.

I read the newspaper story on Belle Gibson that janerella linked to: I see a great irony that Apple is endorsing and promoting her brand of nutrition-based quackery considering Steve Jobs's fate with alternative medicine.

But more seriously: Apple doesn't allow any apps that are not "family friendly" or are in any way controversial, pornographic or criminal, and yet they allow this Whole Pantry app? With all its misleading and dangerous "information"?

It's depressing.

Speaking of irony, the banner ad I've been seeing here on RI for days is for the "Institute for Integrative Nutrition" offering a free sample lesson. They claim to teach over "100 dietary theories."

By Woo Fighter (not verified) on 17 Dec 2014 #permalink


Oh no! They want highly caffeinated coffee!
See the S.A. Wilson website.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 17 Dec 2014 #permalink

Did any of you guys insisting that this woman should rush to an amputation in the hope that her undeserving life can still be saved actually read the description linked to? This woman would not just suffer massive physical trauma, from which she would probably never recover if it was not curative, and a level of disfigurement seldom seen on an animate being outside a horror movie; she'd be severely disabled for the rest of her life, probably unable to work or do common activities, probably suffering pain every single day. And for all that, the doctors don't even promise a cure (nor will they help you die, if they've rendered you too disabled to commit suicide; and remember, Australia has strict gun control).

Is this a good deal, given that you are going to die anyway? Doesn't that depend upon how much real living you would buy yourself? One of you sneers at her refusing to submit out of "fear", but indeed you want her to fear. You think she should fear death so much that, like the Roman poet Epictetus so contemptuously savaged for saying so, she'd accept any quality of life whatsoever just to keep breathing a little longer. That says more about you than about her.


She's entitled to do whatever bloody hell she wants: the problem is that she's promoting her ideas to others, creating a "cult" of impressionable believers who might also forego life-saving, real medical treatment in favour of squirting coffee up their arses. Look at the influence she had on her mother, an innocent victim.

And, she making a fortune promoting this dangerous nonsense. There isn't a single thing she's correct about. She's a menace and has no right nor qualifications to counsel others on how to treat cancer.

She makes the Food Babe look like Neil deGrasse Tyson. (Well, not quite, but their levels of ignorance about health and science are running neck and neck.)

By Woo Fighter (not verified) on 17 Dec 2014 #permalink

Jeez Jane, you are a precocious idiot, aren't you?

Actually Jane I did read it. It is a huge, disfiguring operation. I knew a 14 year old boy who had it - faced with an aggressive bone cancer. He died in his late 20s but it prolonged his life.

It is rather offensive to compare the disability that brave boy incurred to something out of a horror movie don't you think? He was happy not to suffer fungating tumours.

Nobody is saying it is a good deal. Show me a comment above which says that.

At least doctors are transparent about the risks and benefits. Purveyors of gerson lie about both. That is what people are objecting to.

"Is this a good deal, given that you are going to die anyway?"

The operation does have a chance of allowing her something approaching a normal life expectancy. Clearly, it is her choice. If she wants to reject the amputation, I don't begrudge her. But to imply it wouldn't have any benefit is disingenuous, don't you think?

"Doesn’t that depend upon how much real living you would buy yourself? One of you sneers at her refusing to submit out of “fear”, but indeed you want her to fear. You think she should fear death so much that, like the Roman poet Epictetus so contemptuously savaged for saying so, she’d accept any quality of life whatsoever just to keep breathing a little longer. That says more about you than about her."

The fact that that is the conclusion you are coming to from this discussion shows that you either have very poor reading comprehension or simply like to make wild assumptions and leap to conclusions.

Her advice for the Gerson method is causing people with otherwise curative cancers to delay or simply never seek proper treatment. People who don't need to die will die if her advice is followed. We aren't saying that people should fear death, we're saying that pointless, avoidable early deaths are just that, pointless. No one benefits.

Did any of you guys insisting that this woman should rush to an amputation in the hope that her undeserving life can still be saved actually read the description linked to?

Oh, screw off. Was your knee jerking too severely to summon the reserve to ask yourself whether the shoulder or a bit more could have been spared had she opted for a radical resection before this point?


I know that coffee enemas are generally viewed as more comical than harmful, but I do have to wonder just what damage you can cause with them.

Not coffee, but I do I remember reading of a fatal magnesium overdose through epsom salts enemas, in a child sadly. Found it, and there are two others on PubMed. It's rare but it does happen.

Also, coffee or not, I'm sure you could rupture the rectum, or colon if you are really enthusiastic, with a poorly inserted enema nozzle (is that the right word?).

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 17 Dec 2014 #permalink

Jane, she is severely disabled, suffering pain and BLEEDING every day *now*. The cancer can also spread beyond the limb/ shoulder.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 17 Dec 2014 #permalink

I've been watching this train wreck since just before Jess' mother was diagnosed with breast cancer - well the doctor was pretty sure it was breast cancer, but Sharyn refused a biopsy/mammogram and instead jumped on the Gerson bandwagon.

You think her death would have woken up Jess but no, she wiped the blog clean of her "Mum reports", including an I ter view with her on how well she was doing .

We've watched her hide her arm while declaring she was "thriving".

It must have cost her a lot to finally " come clean" - well, as much as she has.

I'm sure there's a lot we weren't told.

Including *an interview* with her. Stupid autocorrect.

@Woo Fighter:

That actually should be pointed out to Apple.

By justthestats (not verified) on 17 Dec 2014 #permalink

Just read the link to Belle Gibson's story and it made me so sad. She's clearly getting worse- I can't imagine the pain having uncontrolled seizures and headaches, and having 4 year old son that she won't see grow up.
The story said she's suffering from terminal brain cancer, yet she said in July that the cancer had spread to her blood, spleen, and liver. I thought primary brain cancer grew only in the brain and spinal cord. Is it possible that her original cancer originated in her body and then spread to her brain? Maybe that's the reason she's lived as long as she has? Also, I saw some pictures taken of her in September/October and her cheeks are clearly puffy. Aren't steroids frequently prescribed to help alleviate pressure in the brain caused by tumors? If she's taking steroids, then she's clearly using conventional medicine besides diet to control her symptoms. She should be honest with he readers if that's the case.

"You think her death would have woken up Jess but no, she wiped the blog clean of her “Mum reports”, including an I ter view with her on how well she was doing ."

That is likely a large part of why she hasn't been able to let it go earlier. To preserve her own sanity she probably had to double down on SCAM after her mother passed lest she have to confront the fact she may have contributed to her mom's early death.

On that aspect I too sympathize with her, the line that was crossed for me is how she decided to try and persuade many others to follow her down that same path.

For those on the outside looking in, I realize it can look like SBM is piling on in her darkest hour, but these conversations are ones that MUST be had.

People will die if they follow her lead.

Jane, I didn't see anyone suggesting she *rush* to an amputation, though worry about her life and prognosis causes concern about what further delay does to her progress, and the bleeding and blood loss are alarming.

I have to wonder where you are coming from. Are you suggesting that someone with that kind of an amputation is better off dead? Or maybe that they would be too disabled (or disfigured) to have any quality of life?

Or is it that you believe someone would be better off dead vs alive but only with one arm?

prognosis, not progress. Doggone auto correct, old age and tired eyes.

Denice Walter wrote:

e.g. his brother failed because he just couldn’t deal with the exacting regime, i.e. he was weak and NEEDED to eat meat and sugar and drink coffee ( rather than shoving it up his arse). Thus his cancer came back.

*blink* They prescribe coffee enemas but proscribe drinking it? How does that make even counterfeit sense?

I've been off coffee since early November, being recommended to avoid it due to gastrointestinal complaints. Having been a daily drinker since my early teens, quitting overnight proved surprisingly trivial. (Still drink tea, tho, so not wholly off caffeine.)

By Andreas Johansson (not verified) on 17 Dec 2014 #permalink

I was recommended low dose naltrexone for CFS by my doc. I hope that's not woo.

By The Light's Bane (not verified) on 18 Dec 2014 #permalink

-"Apple doesn’t allow any apps that are not “family friendly” or are in any way controversial, pornographic or criminal, and yet they allow this Whole Pantry app? With all its misleading and dangerous “information”?-

@Woo Fighter? Are you seriously claiming woo hurts more people than the rape trade? You think porn is harmless fun, while you fap to women being raped on film? Porn is the only crime where endless filmed evidence exists but nobody cares because liberals believe that women's bodies are public property. It's fucking bullshit. I am sick of all rape trade supporting assholes in the skeptic movement. This is one of those issues when even people who pride themselves on empiricism can't see through their bias that women need to be public cum dumpsters for any and all men (cum dumpster is a word created by pornsick men not me, their word). I would love top see a rational conservation on the Nordic Model in the skeptic movement but its never going to happen. The only "feminist" atheist/skeptics like Skepchick are idiot liberals pro-prostitution, pro-porn. The sex trade harms more people than woo. I am sick of ppl like woo fighter acting like the only ppl who have a problem with porn are right wing religious freaks. Porn is male violence against women. The end.

By The Light's Bane (not verified) on 18 Dec 2014 #permalink

"Just read the link to Belle Gibson’s story and it made me so sad. She’s clearly getting worse- I can’t imagine the pain having uncontrolled seizures and headaches, and having 4 year old son that she won’t see grow up.
The story said she’s suffering from terminal brain cancer, yet she said in July that the cancer had spread to her blood, spleen, and liver. I thought primary brain cancer grew only in the brain and spinal cord. Is it possible that her original cancer originated in her body and then spread to her brain?"

Brain cancer can metastasize to other organs. For example, lymphoma can eventually involve the blood and other sites.

By Dangerous Bacon (not verified) on 18 Dec 2014 #permalink

Light's Bane: In case you didn't read the article, let me just point out that Ainscough's mother died due to woo, and so did Polly Noble. Belle Gibson will probably die, and Miss Ainscough's prognosis isn't good. So that's at least three people added to Louisa Hay's body count. But I suppose woman on woman violence doesn't count, even though Hays was a conservative Christian and therefore despised most other women.

By Politicalguineapig (not verified) on 18 Dec 2014 #permalink

@The Light's Bane

Whoah. Simmer down, there. Where did Woo Fighter say anything that woo is worse than rape? I think you're reading more into the comment than was there.

From my reading, Woo Fighter was saying that the Whole Pantry app should not be allowed because it is not, in reality, "family friendly" and that it is controversial, being full of misleading and potentially dangerous crap. Woo Fighter was not defending porn.

Thinking about Ainscough's being presented with the option for amputation, and turning away from it, I am reminded of my mother's strength with her cancer. Before I was born, so about 40 years ago, my mom was diagnosed with a cancer on her arm. Melanoma, I think. The doctor told her they could excise near it, or excise a large piece. The former more aesthetic, the latter safer. She didn't even hesitate before requesting the larger excision. A woman of good sense, my mom.

By John Evans (not verified) on 18 Dec 2014 #permalink

@ Andreas Johansson:

They certainly do!
Coffee is amongst the most dangerous of common foods/ beverages in their eyes. Except for its *approved* usage in enemas where it first obliterates years-old or months-old deposits on intestinal walls and then goes directly to the liver to stimulate its toxin-cleansing actions (which is why caffeine is needed) that will conquer cancer.

Ingesting coffee leads to *caffeine-ism* a horrendous addiction that sabotages the natural pattern of adrenal functioning leading to adrenal fatigue.

Caffeine addicts might be interested to know that it's easy to create your own Kahlua- substitute as I just found out courtesy of my Egyptian friend.

-btw- if you live where I think you do ( Sweden) have a wonderful solstice.( Even if you don't live that far north)

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 18 Dec 2014 #permalink

Way to totally miss Woo Fighter's point, Light's Bane: the argument was not that pornographic apps represent harmless fun but that woo-promoting apps are potentially harmful.

As much as it irks me to see outright woo sold through the Apple Store, I don't think it's reasonable to expect Apple to vet medical advice apps for content accuracy. Their concern is that apps not have viruses in them, not damage the devices, and not be actually illegal. Anything age-restricted or location-restricted (porn, mature-rated games, gambling apps) would require them to enact some kind of validation scheme, and it's far simpler (and less legally troublesome) to simply ban such items altogether.

It is completely legal to view dubious health advice, just as it's legal to put your kids in a private school that teaches them Young-Earth Creationism. Information isn't banned simply for being wrong. We all know how damaging this kind of medical advice is, but I can't see a reasonable way for Apple to vet the quality and content of the information in these apps. Sure, they *could* hire a big medical advisory team, but it would cost a lot and be time consuming, and wouldn't they then have to do the same for things like apps that help you repair your car or compile your taxes or publish the Great American Novel? That way lies madness; they can't afford to be QA for everybody. That's the responsibility of the app manufacturer. So from their perspective, I don't think we can expect them to vet the apps. The best we can expect them to do is to make sure they won't brick our devices.

By Calli Arcale (not verified) on 18 Dec 2014 #permalink

@Denice Walter:

Thanks; yes, I live in Sweden, tho in the southern part, way south of the arctic circle.

By Andreas Johansson (not verified) on 18 Dec 2014 #permalink

"Except for its *approved* usage in enemas where it first obliterates years-old or months-old deposits on intestinal walls and then goes directly to the liver to stimulate its toxin-cleansing actions (which is why caffeine is needed) that will conquer cancer."

So caffiene ingested through the stomach that must pass through the hepatic portal system is bad and somehow DOESN'T stimulate the liver but shoving it up your butt somehow does? Coffee aint the only thing stuck up their butt.

The stupid, it doth burn...

@Calli Arcale:

Apple already vets and QAs apps for lots of stuff that has nothing to do with legal restrictions or potential damage to the devices. Not publishing woo would be completely in line with their existing practices.

By justthestats (not verified) on 18 Dec 2014 #permalink

All the crank commenters have come on board to post their comments.

jane, are you so jaded and ignorant, that you don't understand what has happened to Jess, because she relied on the Gerson protocol to "cure" her cancer? Jess has decreased the chances of her long term survival and is now facing the decision for more radical surgery as her only option.

"The Light's Bane", there's something radically wrong with your thought processes. Get some professional help.

To be fair, I don't think The Whole Pantry markets itself as a cancer-cure in any way. It seems to just be a collection of healthy recipes. I don't think there is any need to ban it. As for Jessica, it's a sad story indeed and it is very difficult to judge someone who is in this, the most horrible of positions. However, I hope that if she does have an amputation that she is honest about it and explains that this was her only hope of survival.

To lilady - ditto. You beat me to it. Jane, you really need to read more. No one on this site has argued Jess doesn't have a right to make whatever medical decisions she wants on her own behalf. If she wants to not have an amputation that is fine, and her decision. I disagree with you that having no arm is a worse fate than dying. If I had to choose that or death I would take the option of learning and rehabilitating and adjusting to life with one arm to have a chance to be with my family and watch my son grow up. But that is a personal choice, and no it shouldn't be motivated by fear. But fear is a powerful human emotion and it drives us all to one degree or another. I wish Jess the best, if she opts for the amputation I hope it is not too late to provide the hope for a cure, if she does not, I hope she accepts whatever palliation medical science can offer her to ease her suffering. I am also for the rights of the dying to choose to end their suffering as well. I can only agree with lilady about Light's Bane, really you need some serious counseling. I would explain some finer points of liberal feminist reasoning but I doubt you would get it.

Yeeeeah, the notion that somebody who's lost a limb belongs in a "horror movie," or that amputation is a fate worse than death is pretty bizarre to me. What about our soldiers who come home missing a limb? Do they belong in horror movies or sideshows? I'd like to think we've moved beyond that attitude. And, luckily, science based medicine is able to do more and more to help people who lose a limb live as happily and productively as possible.

Also, Light's Bane's comment was OT, weird, and way too vehement, to mention a few problems with it, but let's maybe not use "you need some counseling" as an insult.

J.P. I don't think that Kiiri's comment about Light Bane's comment was an more than my comment for L.B. to get some professional help.

I don't want to get into a protracted argument about this, but I disagree. In both instances, actually, saying "you need counseling" or "you need professional help" is just another way of saying "you're crazy/mentally ill" and essentially meaning it as insult - at least that's how it's always come off to me in such discussions. You can easily pick apart what's wrong with said person's post without resulting to ad hominems, and ones that basically use mental illness (or the suspicion thereof) as an insult.

Now, if the post had mentioned hearing voices, or suicidal ideations, or any number of such things, I think it would be entirely appropriate to suggest, probably strongly, that said poster see a trained professional. I've done this numerous times IRL.

But yeah, off-the-hand comments like "you need help" and genuine concern for somebody's well-being are two different thing. There's also a big difference between being wrong, misinformed, or just plain dumb and having a mental health problem.

J.P. Do you honestly believe that L.B.'s filthy drive-by rant is germane to the topic of this thread?


I'll call out the drive-by poster who gets his/her perverted jollies for the troll, he/she is.

No, I don't think that it was germane to the topic of this thread at all. I never said it was; I'm not sure where you even got that. Call out every drive-by poster as a troll, by all means. "Troll" and "somebody with mental illness" are two different things, though. That's what I was saying.

I'm going to step in here and I'm going to say that, based on eir comment, Light's Bane is in serious need of counseling, and any schmuck who wants to tell me I mean that as an insult is invited to snort my taint. I mean that someone whose worldview is that COMPLETELY rigid, polarized and distorted needs serious counseling.

I don't effing CARE if that mental distortion also happen to generate a political and/or social position; it doesn't even make a coprolite's difference if that's a political or social position that some other person could defend through rational argumentation. If you reveal that the reason YOU hold that position is a view of the world which simply DOES NOT correspond with actual reality, then people are going to suggest you go see someone who can help you connect with the real world.

"I think Apple is right to keep pornographic content off the App Store; I think the social costs of pornography are such that every moral person should oppose it" = a legitimate position which one can hold without necessarily being in need of counseling. "If you merely MENTION pornographic content on the App Store, and you DON'T take the opportunity to condemn pornography, that's enough evidence for me to conclude you SUPPORT pornography and think it SHOULD be in the App Store! That makes you a sick bastard, because pornography is synonymous with a 'rape trade' that rapes women's bodies even if it's gay male pornography or pornography produced by women or drawn pornography! There could not possibly be such a thing as a rational person who thinks pornography could be produced in a way other than rape - no, I KNOW THE MINDS OF THOSE WHO OPPOSE ME, and I know that they are evil SUPPORTERS of this 'rape trade'!" = needs serious help.

By Antaeus Feldspar (not verified) on 18 Dec 2014 #permalink

OK, OK, I see what was meant by lilady above: I probably should not have even suggested that the post be dissected, since it doesn't really make any sense and is not on topic to begin with. Someone who does something like that is, by definition, a troll. The best thing to do with trolls is maybe call them trolls and ignore them, in any case.

The only reason I brought it up is that I'm admittedly a little sensitive about the issue, as I have needed counseling for mental health problems (mood disorder), and I have known a lot of people with more or less severe problems who have needed counseling, and I think the less stigma surrounding that, the better. The one thing we can say about a troll is that it's a troll, without making any armchair diagnoses, and this troll has clearly been succesful in raising peoples' hackles, which is what trolls do. The best policy is probably to drop it and move on.

@PGP: "Hays was a conservative Christian and therefore despised most other women"

@JP: "this troll has clearly been succesful in raising peoples’ hackles, which is what trolls do"

Hmmm. Pretty trollish there PGP--facts (as usual) and citations definitely not in evidence.

By brewandferment (not verified) on 18 Dec 2014 #permalink

J.P. You don't "get it" do you? I'll stand by my comment, based on my history of advocacy on behalf of people diagnosed with mood disorders and significant mental illnesses.

BTW, has anybody actually examined the Whole Pantry app? It's $0.99, after all.

justthestats -- yeah, but my point is they're not really equipped to vet medical advice, and I'm not sure we should expect them to be. They're not a publisher in the same way Random House is a publisher; it's closer to Amazon's relationship with sellers in the Amazon Marketplace.

By Calli Arcale (not verified) on 18 Dec 2014 #permalink

Brew and Ferment: In my experience, fundamentalist women come in four main varieties: the mouse who uses her faith to retreat from the world, the woman who hates being a woman, and takes several extreme positions and lobbies to make other women's lives miserable, the sheltered- a woman who has lived all her life in a fundamentalist community and cannot function outside, and the guard at the gates, who usually can be found running for some sort of office so she can punish everyone in the school district/state/ congressional district for not being Christian enough. (We used to have one of the 'guards' in office.)

As for citations, I'd like you to look at Phyllis Schlafly, who's entire life has been basically trying to stuff women back into the house. Hay's true genius is in managing to convince other women that they're better off dead than dishonoring themselves by seeking help. Someone ought to try and figure out why women are more vulnerable to woo and fundy religion than men.

By Politicalguineapig (not verified) on 18 Dec 2014 #permalink

PGP -- since you avoid contact with anyone who is not just like you to the maximum extent possible, I'd have to take your "in my experience" comment with a large pile of salt.

PGP: I'll pile on to Shay's comment and say that since I'm guessing I'm about 2x your age based on Denice Walters' references to your youth, AND have spent 20 years in the military with all the variety of experiences that entails, I can firmly state that you have nowhere near enough experience to make such a silly statement. Phyllis Schlafly?? how about you tell me what her actual impact figure is (you know, using things like google stats, facebook, wikipedia). The actual facts for just one section of society which I have about as many years experience in as years you have lived since kindergarten, namely the aforementioned military, are completely opposite of your baseless assertions. Tell me, please, (hint--it's on other posts of mine on this site in response to you) just how successful Schlafly has been in getting what she wants for women in the military. Or will you do the Sir Robin bit you do when I ask you about actual facts in evidence?

Besides you should know by now that secondary (or probably tertiary at minimum) sources such as Schlafly, TV preachers, random internet fruitcakes like Hay, are as trustworthy as Dr. Oz. You're the counterpart to all those silly people who say "I heard it on Dr. Oz."

By brewandferment (not verified) on 18 Dec 2014 #permalink

Back when I was an active member at MDC (Mothering's forums) it was fairly common for members to die from cancer after failing to use western meds and instead relying on natural or traditional cures. It was hard to take but at least the message went out that they died. It is terrible that Polly's website is still up and nothing has been posted about her death.

And why do people never combine nutrition AND chemo and radiation and surgery? The woo-y people always seem to totally reject western meds. Why? Why not see an oncologist, do that treatment AND eat well, etc. Used the infrared closet lamp (see Kavin Senapathy's page on FB about that one) and the vitamins? Why do they completely reject modern medicine? There's something psychopathic about it.


Why do they completely reject modern medicine?

It seems like the typical reason is because they've been told not to trust real medicine. Part of the alt-med way is to villify actual medicine by describing it in the most horrible terms possible (e.g., cut-poison-burn). Downplay it's effectiveness, emphasize it's shortcomings. And then demand strict adherence to the magic spells you're selling, emphasizing that even the slightest deviation (e.g., going back to actual medicine) will ruin your chances of success.

When real medicine is portrayed as not just awful, poisonous nastiness, but also ineffective, it's little wonder that some people would give up on it completely, rather than pursue it alongside whatever potions they decide to try.

That is the worst thing. Rational people deal in facts, and will honestly share percentages because cancer is complex enough that we haven't found a one size fits all cure. An alternative practitioner confidently announces they have a cure, not a treatment, and will cure anyone who follows it.

Mr Woo had a friend who did treatment with an herbalist for cancer therapy for about six months while being followed by an oncologist. He believes the therapy was working, and says the oncologist "freaked out" and insisted she start chemo. She was dead three months later. Mr Woo, of course, insists it was chemo that killed her. :-(


My heart goes out to this poor woman. I have a chronic disabling disease, not cancer like her thankfully, but I did woo for the first six years until finally realizing it wasn't working and just making me broke. She's now about to find out who her real friends are, and get a lot worse abuse for speaking out about how she's now doing SBM. It's like a damn religion. Share your experience all you want and people will always find a way to tell you that you didn't search hard enough, or long enough, or spend enough money...

By Camilla Cracch… (not verified) on 19 Dec 2014 #permalink

I blogged on this subject this morning and discussed it on my radio show. Unfortunately, Jess is just one of many cancer Google-based entrepreneurs who know little about the true nature of cancer. If they kept their experimentation to themselves at least their self harm would not involve others; however the hype that goes with the cure cancer naturally tribe attracts followers and disciples numbering in the thousands. But let's go back to the source of Jess' inspiration and beliefs to understand how she was influenced down this path in the first place. Misreported reports in Medical Journals have added credibility, kudos and mystique to the notion of curing cancer with meditation, positive thinking, juices and vegan diets. I refer to my corrections letter that was published in a 2010 MJA (Medical Journal of Australia) in response to an incorrectly reported medical history in a 2008 MJA titled: "Thirty-year follow-up at pneumonectomy of a 58-year-old survivor of disseminated osteosarcoma by George A Jelinek and Ruth H Gawler. The issues raised in my published corrections letter have never been addressed. In turn this 2008 paper was based on an original abstract by Ainslie Meares in a 1978 edition of the MJA. Ian Gawler has since admitted to errors in this account of his story and importantly to his timeline history being reversed in the abstract- a very important fact. To add to list of errors, when it was discovered there had been no biopsy of Ian Gawler's secondary cancer; some clinicians began to look differently at his diagnosis. Haines and Lowenthal published their paper in a 2011 IMJ (Internal Medicine Journal) titled: "Hypothesis. The importance of a histological diagnosis when diagnosing and treating advanced cancer. Famous patient recovery may not have been from metastatic disease." The odds are now stacked against the diagnosis of secondary cancer in Ian Gawler's case. It is almost certain that he had tuberculosis that mimicked secondary bone cancer. Tuberculosis was eventually diagnosed and treated medically with drugs in 1978. Only then was it revealed that it had been evident on X-rays for at least two and a half years before his "remission" was declared. But, how does all this relate to Jess Ainscough and her current plight?
On a Blog post written 19 March 2013,Jess Ainscough writes: "For every doctor who told me that my case was terminal, I would latch on to a real-life case who had defied such a diagnosis in their own life. The one who played the biggest role in this for me was Ian Gawler.
Ian Gawler was diagnosed with bone cancer and had his right leg was amputated in 1975. However, the disease recurred later that year and began ravaging his body. Ian’s story of recovery, employing an integrated approach driven predominantly by dedicated meditation, is truly remarkable. It was my anchor to a future the doctors had pretty much ruled me out of having. I thought, If Ian can do it, so can I. His book, You Can Conquer Cancer, was my Bible. Before I went to the Gerson clinic, Tallon and I spent 10 days at The Gawler Foundation. This is where I learnt how to meditate, all about the power of our emotions, and all of the mental tools I would need to carry me through the journey I had ahead of me."
Every week I see cancer patients with fungating tumours and serious health issues due to delayed treatments whilst they try natural medicine cures; many have potentially curable cancers by conventional means. They have all been influenced in a similar way to Jess Ainscough - in fact I conduct an alt-med rescue service to such patients to help shepherd them back to mainstream medicine. How do I know all of this. I am the woman who assisted Ian Gawler to survive throughout his darkest days - when Meares meditation failed, positive thinking was not enough and the Gerson diet stripped the muscle weight from his body - a body that highly likely was in the early days, ravaged by tuberculosis and not secondary bone cancer. Jess Ainscough and her like are sadly caught up in a tragedy of errors about which, the public knows little. Cancer survivors who claim to have been cured by natural means need to stand up to scrutiny and examination. You will find that few meet the criteria. There is an aphorism, attributed to the
late Carl Sagan, that "exceptional claims require exceptional

By Grace Gawler (not verified) on 19 Dec 2014 #permalink

I'm at the stage of having completed four of six chemo cycles for CLL. It's a bit rough, especially when the counts are low and you get an infection that you can't fight off. My ANC was only 340 yesterday, so I'm just waiting for the next febrile neutropenia to come along and spoil Christmas. BUT, it's far better than what will happen if I don't do this. No way diet and vitamins (please, get that enema hose away from me!) are going to fix this. I know that the chemo can't cure it either, but I'll get back to work as a GP for a few years, and five to ten years from now I'll find out if I was right to be an atheist. I'll take what I can get, and I want to be here for my wife and son just as long as I can. It sounds like this woman still has a good chance of long term survival, and, believe me, I'd have my left arm cut off in an instant if it could offer me that.

By Lancelot Gobbo (not verified) on 20 Dec 2014 #permalink

Lancelot Gobbo: Thank you for sharing your story with us. I'm sending best wishes to you and your family for a happy and healthy holiday season.


lilady, I think you are wrong to tell ANYONE they need counseling. That is not the purpose of blog comments and it’s just rude. Other people made comments that were critical of those two others without the personal insult trope being used. You defend yourself in the same way as a woo devotee, never admitting or questioning, just defending yourself blindly. Your “standing by” your remarks doesn’t change the inappropriateness of them.

There is clinical evidence that THC and CBD in conjunction with chemo or radiation is more effective than any one of them alone.

It wonders me that those drugs make people so crazy.

On top of that Donald Abrams, MD, Professor of Clinical Medicine at the University of California San Francisco and Chief of Hematology / Oncology at San Francisco General Hospital, is (horrors) a herbalist and cannabis fan. He is also a fan of nutritional medicine. If all this is so wrong how can he still be practicing? Wouldn't insurance companies decline to insure him? Wouldn't he have been sued out of practice?

A nice general introduction to cannabinoids and cancer including laymen, doctors, and researchers. Near the middle of the video Donald Tashkin gives his findings on cannabis smoking and lung cancer. The video is about 16 minutes. Not all the presenters are identified. Most of them are though.


Dr. Donald Abrams discusses his work and the difficulty in America in getting cannabis for research from the government.


Cannabis in Israel

The video which starts with Dr. Raphael Mechoulam discusses the legalities in America vs Israel, then goes on to medical effects. Mechoulam discusses at the end of the video at the link how his work was supported by NIH for 40 years.

MSimon, what does this have to do with Jess Ainscough or Orac's post?

Dorothy, anyone who deliberately misinterpreted Woo Fighter's comment, and found offense in Woo Fighter's comment to use that faux offense to subject us to a filthy off-topic rant, needs professional help.

December 23, 2014

MSimon, what does this have to do with Jess Ainscough or Orac’s post?

It is about herbalism and cancer.

The comment sections to the recent exactly on topic posts are not open.

Orac did not respond to my emails on the subject and I thought he might have something to say if I commented.

Obviously he has seen my comment. He had to approve it.

Orac doesn't hand-approve comments, and will generally let almost everything through. (Exceptions include Holocaust denial; merely being off-topic for a couple of posts won't get you blocked.)

If he didn't answer your email on the subject, that probably means he's busy, not interested, or thinks he has already address the subject adequately.

December 24, 2014

Orac approved my first two comments. That would be:

There is clinical evidence.....


A nice general introduction....

Since those no blockage.

What is interesting is that so far no one has addressed those comments despite there being a number of anti-herbalists hanging around (judging from this thread and previous threads).

It is my estimation at this point that the endocannabinoid system responds better to a combination of up regulators and down regulators together than to either alone. Our current theories of medicine do not account for such possibilities in the design of trials although giving patients multiple drugs is quite common.

Or course I'm just a layman only modestly educated in the field. But the herbalists have a name for it. "Ensemble medicine". We are seeing the beginning of that with the trials of CBD, THC, and chemo or radiation for cancer.

My field is aerospace electronics.

Here is a report of the beginning of trials in Israel on CBD and cancer. This commentary also at the link was interesting (link below):

Anecdotal reports of cannabis-based treatments inhibiting cancer in humans have become increasingly common in recent years, but virtually no human data exists in the clinical literature substantiating this phenomenon aside from a pair of published case reports.

The first, published in 2011 in the journal Child’s Nervous System, reported on the mitigation of residual tumors in two adolescent subjects who regularly inhaled cannabis over a three-year period. “Neither patient received any conventional adjuvant treatment” during this time period,” investigators wrote. “The tumors regressed over the same period of time that cannabis was consumed via inhalation, raising the possibility that cannabis played a role in tumor regression.”…

So all Jess Ainscough has to do is smoke enough pot, and her sarcoma will vanish?

By Dangerous Bacon (not verified) on 25 Dec 2014 #permalink

Nobody has addressed your off-topic assertions because they are exactly that. Orac is letting you talk in his space; that doesn't mean he's promising you an audience.

When I want to post about things that are off-topic for the blog/site I'm visiting, I use my own blog.

MSimon: "My field is aerospace electronics."

So you are unqualified, which is why we are ignoring you.


I don't announce everything I'm involved in.


Well, they paid me well for my work. But if I was you I'd never get on an A320 or a 747 again. Given your opinion.


Well, there have been no human trials on that point either way. Anecdotal evidence says that high CBD, high THC oil would be the way to go. But of course that is not proof. We won't get proof until the Government reschedules. Or until a proper test is done in Israel or Spain. The two countries I'm aware of where human trials can proceed.

I don’t announce everything I’m involved in.

Given that cannabis trolling isn't exactly novel around here, much less "herbalism," I think you need something to really distinguish yourself.

Could you present all of your future comments in Forth?

"But if I was you I’d never get on an A320 or a 747 again. Given your opinion."

So you were high when you were installing electronics? By the way, that is a firing offense in many industrial companies.

Oh, by the way, I meant you were unqualified in medical and oncology issues. Obviously that point went over your high head.

So you were high when you were installing electronics? By the way, that is a firing offense in many industrial companies.

Precisley, Chris. Those companies have found themselves devoid of any aptitude I may have supplied them with as well over that. Fuk'em.

Well, they paid me well for my work.

I suppose prying out the upshot of this tense construction wouldn't be worth the effort.

But if I was you I’d never get on an A320 or a 747 again. Given your opinion.

The nearest cat is giving me a belly-up on the sense that this is a random instance of FBW blobovianism.

December 25, 2014

Designing. And had they been concerned they would have lost half their engineering dept. BTW the company was and is top rated in their field.

Some studies have shown that high tech companies that drug test don't perform as well as those that don't. It may have something to do with brain plasticity. Endocannabinoid production peaks in the 15 to 25 age range. And after 30 most people are "old". They have considerable trouble changing their world view.

Drug Testing: Does it Really Improve Labor Productivity?…

The answer is no. At least in the high tech companies studied.

The ACLU has more with about 58 cites. The above was one of them.


It is amazing that such "smart" people as those responding to my comments get their information from Cheech and Chong movies. Especially given that studies are available. BTW alcohol is the only widely used drug that impairs performance. Aren't none of you drinking that stuff I hope. It is poison. Kills brain cells too.

Here is the paper "Drug Testing...) (edited) at a non-paywalled site:

An excerpt from the ACLU comment on the paper:

A recent study applied a standard productivity analysis to 63 “high tech” firms in the computer equipment and data processing industry – some having drug testing programs and some not.Overall, the researchers found that drug testing had “reduced rather than enhanced productivity.” Firms with pre-employment testing, compared with firms with no drug testing at all, scored 16 percent lower on productivity measures. For firms with bothpre-employment and random testing, productivity was 29 percent lower. The authors suggest that “companies that relate to employees positively with a high degree of trust are able to obtain more effort and loyalty in return.

I must say that discussing the topic with you guys is like shooting dead fish in a barrel. Hardly sporting. I've tired of the "sport". Have a Happy New Year. And avoid alcohol. Drinking poison hardly seems like a good idea.

"Flounce away, MSimon, flounce away."

Or more likely, toke away.

By Dangerous Bacon (not verified) on 26 Dec 2014 #permalink

Thank you, MSimon.

Yea, before I ever smoked cannabis I'd already become quite 'jaded' will all things *system*. I remember the repugnance of the ads on talk radio for what was basically on-demand, walk-in urine test clinics which essentially came off as sounding like "....Now you can be pissing in the cup and start your new job pissing on the burgers all in the same day!..."

Never mind if one is 'high' at work or not, It has always been political and, of course, a stamping out by the 'competition' (whatever entities thay may be). How ludicrous it is that the test measures *if one has used or been around someone who used marijuana in the not so recent past* even if some arguments may be sticking flounces for degrees of 'highness' while fulfilling a particular job description.

Sport and this ideal of the 'role model' athlete at the top of his game is a bit silly when it became *...Amongst those who submit to being required to piss in cups, these are the finest in the league...*

Some studies have shown that high tech companies that drug test don’t perform as well as those that don’t.

Yes. It is another form of inducing homogeneous idiocracy akin to one's first (and seemingly predominant) qualification being "can you at least hit the cup"??

^^ Where this policy leads and the quality of the 'product' finally delivered may be attested to by walking into any MalWart, these days.

As a director of an Australia Cancer Charity I field a lot of inquiries from desperate cancer patients.
Many are dissatisfied with conventional cancer medicine thanks to, arrogant doctors and oncologists, fear of chemo and belief in the conspiracy theories about big bad pharma.

Most of these patients have become ‘self-empowered’ and boast about their research findings from the internet.

Many will invariably lecture me about their latest discoveries as though they are gospel. Although our charity refers to and works with some of the best oncologists in Australia, USA, UK, Europe and Asia, many of these new patients are poor listeners, even when there are viable conventional treatments for their condition.
SADLY: They don’t know what they don’t know and as such fall prey to the dangerous BS promoted by people like Jessica Ainscough and her mentor Ian Gawler. These people have influenced millions of cancer patients to delay or abandon conventional cancer medicines.

HOWEVER: In recent years, both have been discredited but their loyal fan base refuse to be swayed by logic or evidence.

For example - the internet is abuzz with one of the latest crazes - the ingestion of essential or aromatherapy oils. I found this statement with a quick Google search – “New research is proving that frankincense essential oil is more effective than chemotherapy at killing cancer” The website is Dr Axe. It continues - “Dr. Axe is on a mission to transform the health of millions all across America.” SADLY: Many of our (new) patients believe every word from sites such as these and it is up to a few devoted people like Orac to provide some balance to the mainstream who are stampeding away from conventional cancer treatments while putting their lives on the line experimenting with bizarre alt/med therapies like frankincense.
We’ve already seen some deaths in patients using these oils.
BTW: I’d like to see some discussion to Grace Gawler’s comment on this thread - Dec 20 – 2014.
Grace has often been a very lone voice trying to alert the cancer public to the true Ian Gawler healing story. In this sense, Grace has come up against powerful forces similar to Betsy Andreu, the woman who finally exposed the cheating of Lance Armstrong.
As Grace says in her post, Ainscough, her mentor, Ian Gawler and their clones, are much more dangerous than Armstrong. They are cancer 'cure' pied pipers, luring desperate cancer patients to leap off the alt/med cliffs.
This may be causing 4-8000 cancer deaths per year in Australia alone.
Supporting Grace’s voice may just save some lives.

By Pip Cornall (not verified) on 28 Dec 2014 #permalink

Pip Cornall,

They are cancer ‘cure’ pied pipers, luring desperate cancer patients to leap off the alt/med cliffs.

The ironic thing is that most of those who claim that CAM cured their cancer were either, very probably, successfully treated conventionally, or didn't have cancer in the first place (no biopsy).

In other words these pied pipers are urging people to leap off the AltMed cliffs without a parachute, having survived their leap with one.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 28 Dec 2014 #permalink

@Pip Cornall - I am honestly confused by your statement that "Many are dissatisfied with conventional cancer medicine thanks to, arrogant doctors and oncologists,". Could you please explain?

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 28 Dec 2014 #permalink


In other words these pied pipers are urging people to leap off the AltMed cliffs without a parachute, having survived their leap with one.


This is the perfect metaphor.

By Militant Agnostic (not verified) on 29 Dec 2014 #permalink

I am sorry to hear that her plan did not work. At least she tried to find the best option for her cancer...she is far too young to die from conventional treatment--she was bold to buck the 'system' and I wish her all the best going forward. Gerson and other excellent remedies for cancer have solid backing, but sadly they do not line the pockets of big pharma and its supporters, so they are deemed quackery by the ignorant. So very sad.

By Elyn Jacobs (not verified) on 01 Jan 2015 #permalink

No, Gerson therapy lines the pockets of Gerson practitioners.

"The treatment at the Mexico clinic costs $5,500 per week (the cost is 5,500 Euro in Hungary) and usually lasts around two to three weeks.4,5 The weekly fee is inclusive of accommodation, meals and treatment. People are encouraged to continue the therapy for approximately two years at home. This involves ongoing expense including regular telephone consultations with a private physician, juicing equipment, large quantities of organic vegetables and the cost of supplements. In total the Gerson therapy consumes large amounts of time, money and other resources and only dedicated individuals will be able to stick to the demands of the therapy."

That adds up to a lot of money, not counting the cost of dying unnecessarily (if effective mainstream therapies exist for a given situation), since Gerson treatments are pure quackery.…

By Dangerous Bacon (not verified) on 01 Jan 2015 #permalink

Elyn Jacobs, is this you?

Too bad, you didn't post your comment on a science blog where the blogger is a breast cancer surgeon/breast cancer researcher, who has posted multiple times about Gerson, his daughter and the Gerson bogus treatment.

I'm curious to know if our dear Orac has heard of the "Pink Vaccine?"

Gerson and other excellent remedies for cancer have solid backing

A naturopath who followed up on Gerson's "successes" discovered that they had all died of their cancer. Orac has blogged about this. Apparently Gerson's definition of cured was "lived long enough for the cheque to clear.

Also, what Krebiozen said @136 regarding parachutes.

By Militant Agnostic (not verified) on 01 Jan 2015 #permalink

I’m curious to know if our dear Orac has heard of the “Pink Vaccine?”

Seems pretty clever (PDF), although limited in terms of prophylactic use.

^ Don't get me wrong; it would beat the living daylights out of the other prophylactic option.

@Elyn Jacobs - did you only use alternative treatment for your own cancer? If so, how was it diagnosed and staged?

"Too young to die of conventional treatment?" My 68-year-old aunt is a five-year breast cancer survivor, conventional treatment only, and my 96-year-old grandmother had colon cancer more than 40 years ago and was treated with surgery only.

No - I am not saying it is perfect and always works. For all the survivors I know, I have lost both parents and several good friends to cancer.

What is "good backing?" Usually when I hear things like that I think business ventures. When it comes to medical treatment, I prefer scientifically plausible modalities that have been researched and demonstrated safe and more effective than doing nothing.

Do you counsel patients on what to choose?

What is your track record on survival rates?

Do you earn money doing this? Are you insured in case a family member decides your advice was harmful?

Do you counsel patients on what who to choose?

Not so much FTFY as something of a residual memo issue.

5% increase in effective allopathic conventional treatment in 75 years is nothing to brag about or hang your hat on as the ultimate worthwhile treatment for breast cancer. Who's the real Quack?
Mother around the world or telling imaging centers with boob smashing mammograms that also squash cancer and spread it, and including biopsies are telling their oncologist to stuff it and finding their way to successful gentle healing from breast cancer, naturally assisting the body to heal itself. Orange is the New Pink. Cannabis Oil is the greatest healer and combined with flaxseed oil is bringing rapid healing. Spain has 3 decades of worthwhile research. American's have been duped by DuPont and Rockefeller. When it comes to Cancer America's Medicine has failed miserably. Do You Own Research and Join FB pages of survivors sharing their stories and protocols. iCureCancer FB, radio show, and documentary. iCureCancer. com . Mums Not Havin Chemo Book and blog, and Orange Is the New Pink. com and radio show. Cure Cancer Now and website. Blessed By Cancer support group in Nevada City, CA.

By Sandi White (not verified) on 02 Jan 2015 #permalink

Ms. White, what kind of dressing do you want on your word salad?

Boy, all those "altie" treatments that Sandi mentions don't seem to have helped Jesse, have they?

@Sandi White,

Who’s the real Quack?

Anyone who prescribes a treatment that has no scientific basis for working. Thanks for asking!

Cannabis Oil is the greatest healer and combined with flaxseed oil is bringing rapid healing. Spain has 3 decades of worthwhile research.

No doubt you can provide links to the research showing that cannabis oil mixed with flaxseed oil has a better cancer cure rate than conventional treatment. We look forward to that data.

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 02 Jan 2015 #permalink

The Gerson Clinic is running on borrowed time. How much longer can they go on charging $$$ for coffee enemas, when the cannabis/flaxseed oil enema is obviously the wave (or flush) of the future?

Note the link to something called "Portlandsterdam University", which brings new meaning to the term "liberal arts education".

By Dangerous Bacon (not verified) on 02 Jan 2015 #permalink

The Gerson Clinic is running on borrowed time. How much longer can they go on charging $$$ for coffee enemas, when the cannabis/flaxseed oil enema is obviously the wave (or flush) of the future?

Note the link to something called "Portlanderstam University", which brings new meaning to the term "liberal arts education".

By Dangerous Bacon (not verified) on 02 Jan 2015 #permalink

The Gerson Clinic is running on borrowed time. How much longer can they go on charging $$$ for coffee enemas, when the cannabis/flaxseed oil enema is obviously the wave (or flush) of the future?


Note the link to something called "Portlanderstam University", which brings new meaning to the term "liberal arts education".

By Dangerous Bacon (not verified) on 02 Jan 2015 #permalink

The Gerson Clinic is running on borrowed time. How much longer can they go on charging $$$ for coffee enemas, when the cannabis/flaxseed oil enema is obviously the wave (or flush) of the future?


Note the link to something called "Portlanderstam University", which brings new meaning to the term "liberal arts education".

By Dangerous Bacon (not verified) on 02 Jan 2015 #permalink

Sandi White,

5% increase in effective allopathic conventional treatment in 75 years is nothing to brag about or hang your hat on as the ultimate worthwhile treatment for breast cancer. Who’s the real Quack?

Where did you get those figures from? More than 90% of breast cancer patients survive for more than 5 years after diagnosis, as compared to only 75% in 1975. Ten year survival has increased from 25% in the 1940s to 83% today (SEER again).

If you know of something that has been proven to work better, do share.

Mother around the world [...] are telling their oncologist to stuff it and finding their way to successful gentle healing from breast cancer, naturally assisting the body to heal itself.

They may be telling their oncologists to stuff it, but they aren't finding a way to healing, sadly. As UK cancer surgeon Michael Baum wrote on a UK medical professional site (PulseToday, no longer available):

In the UK, there is the "cancer act" to protect patients from the claims of CAM in treating cancer, sadly this is seldom enforced. As a cancer surgeon and professor of medical humanities I can attest to the tragic consequences of patients with breast cancer refusing modern humane treatment in place of barbaric alternatives. I call them barbaric as it allowed me to follow the natural history of untreated disease. Although I rarely endorse the use of mastectomy, if there is one thing more barbaric than radical surgery, it's the disease itself being allowed to run riot. The cancer leaves behind a rotting stinking ulcer and a swollen arm as the involved lymph nodes block the drainage from the lymphatics.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 02 Jan 2015 #permalink

Ms. White, what kind of dressing do you want on your word salad?

Looks like she was trying to cut-&-paste some advertising spam but borked the formatting.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 02 Jan 2015 #permalink

re: Meph #137

@Pip Cornall – I am honestly confused by your statement that “Many are dissatisfied with conventional cancer medicine thanks to, arrogant doctors and oncologists,”. Could you please explain?

Obviously, I'm not Pip, and I definitely want to hear the details (Come back, Pip!). But I certainly didn't find the statement confusing. It doesn't assert that all doctors are arrogant, or even that all patients of those doctors are dissatisfied, only that the percentages in each case are high enough that they are a significant causal factor in thousands of preventable cancer deaths from quackery yearly in Oz.

I'd guess that Pip is not asserting "arrogant doctors" as the cause of dissatisfaction directly so much as reporting that patients attribute their dissatisfaction to "arrogant doctors". I'd also guess these patients are over-attributing the roots of their dissatisfaction to the doctors. And I wouldn't suggest the way to fix the problem is just to fix the doctors via some sort of sensitivity training, though some effort at something like that might be in order.

It's 'human nature' for folks to blame people rather than things, so I'd guess major systemic factors are a work in the patient dissatisfactions, but they don't really see or understand these things, and focus their pique on the MDs. The key point, IMHO, is that many of the patient relations tasks where doctors' arrogance/sympathy may come into play may not properly be parts of the physicians' jobs.

It seems like everyone I know has at least one hospital horror story (with self/family/friend as patient) where the patient suffered horribly, was not cured, maybe misdiagnosed, maybe even harmed by improper treatment — and in which the doctors acted with either callous detachment or were out and out assholes. Anecdotal, of course, but I have noted the incidence of these complaints steadily increasing over the 43 years of my adult life; and based on the changes I've observed and felt in the delivery of medical care in the longer period of my memory, I can understand why.

As sincere as Orac, the Minions and other sbm advocates may be, the whole anti-quack project could be viewed as a (subconscious) attempt to deflect attention away from serious problems in the sbm treatment deliver system. The unconscious motives would include:
1. Doctors don't want to change their well-entrenched habits in general, and especially don't want to accept responsibility for dealing with the psychological issues attendant to dealing with patients facing serious health issues.
2. Like psychology, the systemic/institutional issues raised are outside their field of expertise. They don't necessarily have time or interest or background in these things, and may consider with some justification they just wouldn't 'get it' if they ventured into that terrain.
3. To the extent they do have background, interest, and the ability to 'get it' the institutional issues seem so imposing and intractable that taking a whack at them seems like a poor use of their limited time.

SO: Step outside the habits-of-mind framed by work in medical practice and the sciences, and look at the attack-on-quack from the POV of a patient advocate who knows enough about science that quackery or spiritual healing of physiological disease are simple off the table (a Pip, perhaps). You're looking to the institutions of modern Western medicine to deliver the health care goods. How are those institutions doin'? I don't think it should be hard at all to imagine such an advocate saying, 'I'm all for whack-a-quack, but why the fuck don't you folks clean up your own house first?" I use that trope because my guess is the HOUSE is more the problem than the Greg-Houseiness of any of its occupants.

Patients are human beings, not machines, and in human terms there is no excuse whatsoever for treating a patient facing the horros of chemo with anything less than extraordinary sympathy. None. Zilch. Nada. Zip. You treat your dog better than a lot of patients get treated in hospitals. A lot better.*

I could toss out some rough underbaked ideas about how to clean and reorganize the house — it's not that hard to come up with a few starters for discussion at least — but the point is the sbm advocates aren't doing anywhere near enough toward that or making anywhere near enough noise about it. Physicians and scientists may not be equipped to figure out how to clean and reorganize the house. But as they say, 'If you don't know, you better ask somebody who does." There are experts in these fields, too.

Sbm-ers should not only identify practical solutions, — one way or the other, if not by themselves, then with the aid of qualified professionals — they should FIGHT for them like hell with tool and nail like my life depends on it. Because it does. And there are lots of me out there.

Based on my lived experiences, if a wave of a magic wand could erase for earth AND memory all the quack scammers and pseudo-science mythologies, we'd still have a serious problem with the house, with all the things wrapped up in the dissatisfaction (to put it criminally mildly) directed at "arrogant doctors." Some people would invent their own new woo and spread it around. Many more would just say 'fuck this shit' and just stop going to the clinic/hospital/whatever. I wonder what the measure is of people who've already done that now. (Anyone track that? Anyone know?)

OK, here's just one idea. How about creating a new professional category of Physicians Assistant that would combine some of the basic diagnostic training of a traditional PA with some of the counseling skills of an MSW? A Patient Interaction Assiatant? The PIA would make no medical decisions, but be qualified to extract the necessary information from patients to pass along to doctors, and present the doctors' findings and recommendations back to the patient. As a PIAs time ought to be less expensive than an MDs, especially a specialist, the PIA would have the skill and could be given the time to deal with the human side of the equation, letting the doctor concentrate on what the doctor does best.

If just for the sake of argument we assumed that idea had merit, what would it take to put something like that into practice? I'm guessing a major campaign with plenty of foundation funding and tons of active grass roots support in the medical and medical science communities.

Anybody want to try and get that ball rolling (or one like it)? Or are we all content to point and laugh at our Friday dose of woo served up from some loony blog with <100 subscribers on its RSS feed?

As an uneducated minion, I don't know if that is the crux of the problem. Part of it is the honesty required for doctors or anyone else behaving ethically - there are no guarantees. Sadly, with alternative medicine, there are only gushing anecdotes and complex explanations that are usually neither accurate nor plausible and empty promises. A frightened patient who has heard horror stories about chemo (some of which are even outdated) and other treatments but never known anyone to go through them can be convinced that they have an equal or better chance with the alternative. They promise if you do their treatment correctly you get better, period. No percentages, no possible... just results.

A cancer expert will suggest treatment protocols and give you percentages from clinical trials. They don't say 70% chance of five years survival.

People want to believe in magic. Some even yearn for it. In a weird way, SBM needs a new publicity agent more than it needs an interpreter.

@sadmar - thanks for your attempt, but since you continually say you're guessing, I'm not getting much out of it.

Let me expand on what I don't get:

1. How is arrogance being defined in this context?
2. By what actions are the doctors/oncologists involved showing themselves to be arrogant?
3. What proportion of the population of doctors/oncologists are claimed to be arrogant?
4. Arrogance doesn't apparently turn off the fans of professional sports (when was the last time you heard someone say "that wrestler is so arrogant! I'm never watching the WWE again and switching to tiddly winks!"); why would an experience with an arrogant doctor/oncologist send one out to look for bogus or ineffective treatment?

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 04 Jan 2015 #permalink

Simply repeating the woo-based assertion that people are dissatisfied with their health care and "arrogant" doctors, ignores reality.

For instance, a recent Consumer Reports survey of over 49,000 patients found about three-quarters were "highly" satisfied with their primary care doctors. And a survey of oncology clinic patients revealed that 92%of them were "always" or "usually" reassured by their clinic visits (the major gripe was waiting time to be seen). Their interactions with clinic staff were described as very positive (contrary to the physician meanie meme), so there must be quite a bit of attention paid to psychological aspects of cancer care.…

Of course, some of this positive feeling might be analogous to what Americans say about Congress (negative in general, but like their own representatives) and thus not fully revelatory. But it's a far cry from the stereotyping we see from quackery supporters and enablers.

"I don’t think it should be hard at all to imagine such an advocate saying, ‘I’m all for whack-a-quack, but why the fuck don’t you folks clean up your own house first?”

This is a very common tu quoque argument from the woo crowd. It ignores the fact that evidence-based medicine _is_ deeply engaged in quality improvement, including a variety of measures to improve patient satisfaction. I personally spend an average of over an hour a day on quality improvement measures. Having an interest in keeping a rein on quackery as a side interest doesn't detract from doing your job properly (and keeping people safe from dangerous quacks is arguably part of that job).

"why would an experience with an arrogant doctor/oncologist send one out to look for bogus or ineffective treatment?"

I've never understood it myself. In my family's experience, there've been a few really good docs, a larger number of competent but undistinguished ones, and a very few obnoxious/borderline qualified types. We dumped the latter and found better physicians instead of turning to quackery.

If you're predisposed to magical solutions, have a disorder that defies good medical control (or isn't recognized by EBM (for instance, "Morgellons disease")), have limited access to quality care etc., that limited experience with substandard physicians could throw you into the arms of quacks. I would like to concentrate on putting the quacks out of business while at the same time improving my craft and how good care is delivered.

I don't buy the argument that we shouldn't crack down on payday lenders and their abuses but instead worry about improving the economy and making banks more accountable. I similarly don't accept that quacks should be allowed to flourish because of deficiencies in EBM that have to be corrected first.

Sorry for the nearly sadmar-length response. :)

By Dangerous Bacon (not verified) on 04 Jan 2015 #permalink

Arrogance doesn’t apparently turn off the fans of professional sports (when was the last time you heard someone say “that wrestler is so arrogant! I’m never watching the WWE again and switching to tiddly winks!”); why would an experience with an arrogant doctor/oncologist send one out to look for bogus or ineffective treatment?

My wild guess is it might be because people like seeing bravado when watching guys fight each other but would rather have sympathy when going to someone else for help with a serious problem.

By justthestats (not verified) on 04 Jan 2015 #permalink

And arrogance and sympathy are mutually exclusive because...?

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 04 Jan 2015 #permalink

A friend of mine just died from breast cancer after a year of surgery, chemo and radiation. A year of pain and feeling unwell, I don't know if we can judge anyones choice until you're actually in a life or death situation yourself.

I must disagree. We might decide that we are not in a position to judge the person, because we haven't faced their situation. But we can certainly judge their actions. Even if, arguendo, everyone facing a scary diagnosis rejected it and turned to woo and rallied others to likewise turn their backs on the medicine that had a chance of saving them - it would simply lead to more unnecessary misery and death.

By Antaeus Feldspar (not verified) on 12 Jan 2015 #permalink


A friend of mine just died from breast cancer after a year of surgery, chemo and radiation. A year of pain and feeling unwell, I don’t know if we can judge anyones choice until you’re actually in a life or death situation yourself.

That's horrible, but the course she pursued was her best chance of surviving, though she was unlucky, sadly. You seem to presuppose that without treatment she would have had less pain and felt less unwell. From what I know of untreated breast cancer it is even nastier than unsuccessful conventional treatment.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 12 Jan 2015 #permalink

OK, here’s just one idea. How about creating a new professional category of Physicians Assistant that would combine some of the basic diagnostic training of a traditional PA with some of the counseling skills of an MSW? A Patient Interaction Assiatant? The PIA would make no medical decisions, but be qualified to extract the necessary information from patients to pass along to doctors, and present the doctors’ findings and recommendations back to the patient.

Beautiful, sadmar #158. Something along the lines of a medical intercessory? A *go between*, a *lawyer*, an... advocate.

I'd assume that, as with defense-prosecution-judge, a working relationship lending itself to more effective communication would develop for all parties involved.

I've no experience as a doctor but I do as a patient; I find it very hard to communicate all my *symptoms* and concerns to a doctor when that 10-min clock is ticking. I would imagine that when someone who rarely visits the doctor but does finally go in with agitation over percieved changes in his/her health then that patient may miss relating symptoms crucial to a proper diagnosis. Especially when the doc has already scribed down the code for EtoH and generalized anxiety disorder and also dissuaded the patient from any 'costly' bloodwork because that patients' self-diagnosed condition would be rather unlikely. Crap. I, myself, got so toung-tied a few years back that I completely forgot to mention a long-term high, specific gravity, brownish-red substance separating out of urine and immediately migrating to the bottom of the bowl; <-- The more I think about that (my convincing myself that, just because it was the same color of my 'ambeer' spit that it was some new additive in wet snuff), the more I'm convinced that my own 'soothsaying' was what was highly unlikely. Oddly, the condition was just magically gone one morning and has yet to return.

Such an advocate should be able to serve as an effective translator -- to condense the patients' pertinant symptomatology(??) into the concise efficiency of doctorspeak**; And to go the other way when discussing treatments, protocols, and options -- A far cry better than the incredulous patient bumbling about in the dark and having to resort to 'just google it', I suspect.

**Though definately not always, the secretary/'nurse' taking the BP and asking if one shoots up or smokes marijuana just doesn't cut it as it is still part of that '10 minutes'.

As for cannabis 'woo'. Are there "any studies to show" that cannabis would, in any way, interfere with treatment (save being in jail making one miss a dose)?? I've heard tell that cannabis does a chemo/radded up psyche/person good in alleviating many of those side effects.

Doctors ought to be screaming out to end this rediculous stranglehold on that herb in particular and not be such a silent, tacit failure as has, for the most part, occured since 1937.

I have just watched Jess Ainscough talking with Jon Gabriel on the Mind Body Weight Loss Summit, free for the next 24 hours. she looked amazing. Her story is very inspiring. This is her story, her life and she has chosen her path and how she wants to live her life. I applaud her bravery for taking all the information and advice available to her (both allopathic and complementary) with regards to her condition, but never giving up the responsibility for her health to anyone but herself in the process. I applaud her bravery also for being able to let go of her ego and continue to work her oncologists and continue her 'alternative practices'. I believe we all get hung up on the word 'alternative' confusing it for meaning, 'instead of', whereas health is so complex, the more you can do to support the body's innate ability to heal itself has to be a good thing. I will continue to follow her story, because I am grateful from how I learn from her story and also how this post can contribute. This page would never have been written if she had kept her silence.

Perhaps if she had listened to her original oncologists in the beginning, she wouldn't be in the position she's in today - forced to return to conventional medicine, perhaps at the point beyond where she can be helped, because she decided that "she knew better than the experts."

"I applaud her bravery also for being able to let go of her ego and continue to work her oncologists "

Do you applaud her dissemination of really rotten medical advice as well?

I believe we all get hung up on the word ‘alternative’ confusing it for meaning, ‘instead of’, whereas health is so complex, the more you can do to support the body’s innate ability to heal itself has to be a good thing.

You mean like veggie drinks and coffee enemas? How well has this worked for Jess?

This page would never have been written if she had kept her silence.

You're probably right because she wouldn't have been so irresponsible as to encourage others to follow her really bad advice, including her deceased mother. Sure Jess is just so damn brave.

By Science Mom (not verified) on 18 Jan 2015 #permalink

I think her ego has been dragged, shrieking from her by finally acknowledging the months of pain and bleeding and ignoring of the evidence-based symptoms of advanced cancer. Shame it took letting go of her mother, and letting go of her best chance of recovery before she decided to "let go" of her ego. Ego is a poor soldier in the face of malignant pain.

By janerella (not verified) on 19 Jan 2015 #permalink

Leave the girl alone! Everyone that views her site does it voluntarily. I have witness first-hand the western medicine treatment approach to cancer. Using poison on an already poisoned body makes one die!! Nothing wrong with her trying to find a better way to die than the barbaric treatment offered to many...Cut..poison...burn. There are many natural cancer survivors that you can scoff at....80 year old Ruth Heidrich outlived her oncologist. She outlived her oncologist and wrote 4 books and has a website. Check it out. Don't put your faith in an Oncologist. Put your faith in God. Oncologists are making lots of money on cancer patients. LOTS!! Cancer is an industry...a big industry. All these cancer walks..and awareness...ridiculous. Everyone is AWARE of cancer. How can you not be? Bald-headed concentration camp souls looking for the perfect oncologist to cure them. I hope I live long enough to see every oncologist go "out of business". Until then....let everyone search for their own cure whether you like it or not she will die on her terms not on yours!! Please post the "Real" survivor stories of people you have saved!!

Amen Alice. Orac has nothing better to do than beat somebody down about using something other than conventional poisons - chemicals - treatment to cure. Funny he fails to mention how many people DIE using conventional treatment, eh, David?

"Cut-Poison-Burn!" Seriously do you alt med doofuses not have a single original thought? Is this the best you can do? You are just going to repeat over-simplistic slogans from quacks?

And Orac mentions that people die while getting conventional treatment all the time. Unlike the charlatans you worship, Orac is ethical about cancer and its treatments, and so he has zero problem honestly and opening discussing the success and failures of conventional treatment. That alt med person you listen to has no moral conundrum about lying, and so what he tells you will of course always SOUND better. But since you have no critical thinking skills, you believe the lying quack, because his stuff always sounds "positive."

Bald-headed concentration camp souls

Aaaand here comes the Godwin point. Thanks for playing, Alice and Jack.

The number of people I met who think themselves of rebels / anti-conformists / anti-establishment / "I'm not a sheeple" but are nonetheless just !d!ots following their own brand of conformism...
I despair of humanity, sometimes.

By Helianthus (not verified) on 25 Jan 2015 #permalink

Why is it that the alties never tell a patient there isn't anything they can do?

Nothing wrong with her trying to find a better way to die

Such as religiously shooting coffee up her ass and winding up with an ulcerating, necrotic, bleeding mass in her armpit for 10 months as a result?

Amputation was intended to be curative, remember?

80 year old Ruth Heidrich outlived her oncologist.

She also had a double mastectomy.

Helianthus thank you for playing too. I forgot that sheep like yourself live on sites like this. Good luck with your health, eat McDonald's, fry your food, and follow the herd yourself. It is easy, you and Renate and Narad with you.

Helianthus thank you for playing too. I forgot that sheep like yourself live on sites like this. Good luck with your health, eat McDonald’s, fry your food, and follow the herd yourself. It is easy, you and Renate and Narad with you.

Jack what makes you assume that because we are criticising Jess' choices that we nosh on fast foods and don't care for our health? And while you're congratulating yourself on you and only you knowing how to eat well, look at all that good food Jess ate and shoved up her bum? What has that done for her?

By Science Mom (not verified) on 28 Jan 2015 #permalink

@181 Oh sure, if I said something like that, everyone would scream that a single cited incident was nothing but anecdotal evidence. You have cited a single case.

Do you have the statistics that prove that faith in God is detrimental? We could cited the literature about higher suicide rates among atheist?

[Just a little humor, no response needed]

By Colonel Tom (not verified) on 28 Jan 2015 #permalink

I forgot that sheep like yourself live on sites like this. Good luck with your health, eat McDonald’s, fry your food, and follow the herd yourself. It is easy, you and Renate and Narad with you.

Maybe a nice coffee enema would help with that asshurt, Jack. Or you could, you know, actually make the case that a "big fungating tumour mass" is a "better way" of doing anything.

General faith in God, no I don't

Specific faith-based practices, particularly in states where you cannot be prosecuted for killing your kids if you happened to be praying for them at the time...possibly.…

Although I think it is more a side effect of worshiping a particular human and that human's claim they speak for God than just the usual oh sure, yeah, I believe there probably is a God kind of faith you find in a lot of people.

Leave the girl alone! Everyone that views her site does it voluntarily.

Leave Orac alone! Everyone that views his site does it voluntarily.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 28 Jan 2015 #permalink

Colonel Tom: I am not aware of any evidence that "faith in God" is detrimental, but would you like me to dig up the study that showed that being prayed for *was* detrimental to patient outcomes?

I was prayed over at a Sons of Confederate Veterans meeting once (don't ask). I can't recall that it did me any harm. On the other hand, substituting faith for medical treatment will result in negative outcomes sooner or later.

Usually sooner.


Want some cheese with your butthurt whine, since you pretty much got pwned with your intelligence-free comments?

Orac has nothing better to do than beat somebody down about using something other than conventional poisons – chemicals – treatment to cure.

And how well did that cure work? Did it work well enough to recommend to others?

In what way was that treatment not chemicals, by the way?

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 28 Jan 2015 #permalink

@Vicki, there are many poorly designed studies that prove many things, none that I trust. I only meant as a small bit of humor. Even the infamous "atheists commit suicide in greater frequency" is a poorly done work as it does not separate a suicide of depression with a suicide to stop the pain of end of life.

Conversely, I take three different medicines, beneficial oil (fish and others) for my cholesterol and HDL/LDL risk factors. I offer as a plan of action that medicine and faith acting together may lead to the best outcomes.

By Colonel Tom (not verified) on 28 Jan 2015 #permalink

Correct me if I'm wrong Col. Tom, but I took your #183 to mean that faith in and of itself doesn't cut one way or the other medically. I'd say if belief in particular faith to a particular degree keeps people away from needed conventional treatment, that's bad. But if faith makes it easier for people to accept difficult medical treatment, or withstand it's often painful rigors, that's good.

In the case of Jess Ainscough, if holding onto (x) amount of her woo is the only pre-condition by which she can abide doing whatever a real oncologist tells her she needs to do, I have no problem with that. If she does that, and survives, that will surely limit anyone selling a Gerson's scheme's claims that it can cure the big C all by itself, and open a path for more people to seek conventional treatment.

By the same token, if Makayla Sault had experienced a vision of Jesus, but The Christ had told her, "Do not fear Child. Yea, though you walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death that is this hospital, thou art with me. I will protect you from the chemotherapy. After darkness comes the dawn." that would have been a good thing.

Of course, visions are but projections of some aspect of our consciousness, casting our desires into some external authority that justifies them, and that's probably true of any form of faith in general to one degree or another. Not being a psychologist, and based just on (a fairly large number of) anecdotal observations, it seems to me that epiphanies are mechanisms for people to resolve internal conflicts, including the displacement of deeply-rooted self-destructive behavior patterns with some better alternative, and that this works out for the best more often than not (e.g. the 'surrender to a higher power' in 12-step programs).

But the thought of 12-step leads me to another thought: perhaps every hospital offering scary-but-effective cancer treatments such as chemo, amputation, radical surgery etc. ought to have faith-based support groups designed to mobilize whatever faiths patients have as a means of getting them through the psychological obstacle course of beginning such treatments and sticking with them.

It is not my place to tell anyone what things should mean.

You last paragraph is pretty much what we do at the VA. It started a number of years ago when I "bumped" into a person that was compulsively washing the fecal matter of a dead frenemy from his hands, and had been doing so for the last two years. Although it took some doing, and in the end we had to register as a non-denominational ministry and not the initial plan to be a voluntarily support group. White tape, easier to have access as a religious group. So many broken bodies and broken spirits.
I have never gone through a twelve-step program, although I understand that giving yourself to a higher power can be a hurdle for many. Personally, I'd rather say you should accept that there are times, that no deed of skill, no act of courage nor trick of wisdom will be enough to guarantee success. There are times, you accept that you give your all, and pray that it will be enough.

By Colonel Tom (not verified) on 28 Jan 2015 #permalink

You wrote:
"If Jess decides that Gerson treatment is necessary to help her deal with chemotherapy or surgery, I’d be OK with that (at least I wouldn’t object too strongly) as long as she’s using science-based medicine and Gerson therapy isn’t interfering with it."
Honestly, I *really* don't think Jess gives a rat's behind what you would be "OK" with. In the end, it is NONE of yours or ANYBODY'S business what she does!!!!! Get over it!!

"In the end, it is NONE of yours or ANYBODY’S business what she does!!!!"

It is when she encourages others to do the same as she.

Honestly, I *really* don’t think Jess gives a rat’s behind what you would be “OK” with. In the end, it is NONE of yours or ANYBODY’S business what she does!!!!! Get over it!!

We'll get over it and she'll become a cautionary tale. The question is, will she get over it?

By Science Mom (not verified) on 28 Jan 2015 #permalink

In the end, Chris & Science Mom, people can *STILL* choose to do whatever they want to do. Jess isn't flying all over the world holding a gun to anyone's head. People can follow blindly or do their own research. We are only discussing cancer treatments here, but this goes for just about everything. It's of no use ridiculing her for her decision. And for the record, MANY people who do chemo (which is mustard gas....look it up), very frequently have what is called a "relapse" but it's the secondary cancer caused by chemo who also die quite often after 5-7 years. It is no secret that chemo is poison. Where do you suppose all of that poison administered into your body goes? There are thousands of people blogging about their experiences with cancer and so many write in detail about the misery they are experiencing. BTW, have you seen this? Does it look like she did OK? Isn't some amount of quality of life important? Maybe that is why Jess made the decision to try something else.

Mary: "In the end, Chris & Science Mom, people can *STILL* choose to do whatever they want to do"

So how did that work out for Penelope Dingle?


Why is it okay for you to be upset at what people here say and believe, but not okay for anyone to be upset at what Jess Ainscough says publicly?

If Ainscough were just quietly sitting at home, not getting chemotherapy, maybe studying robotics or knitting klein bottles, we wouldn't be having this argument. She is being criticized for urging other people to do without life-saving medical interventions.

Mary.... I followed Jess when I was searching for dietary help during chemotherapy. I hung onto her every word, felt guilty that I couldn't afford all my food to be organic as I had a family and I felt inadequate that I was a bald mess whilst this beautiful girl was kicking cancer's arse. The reason I am posting is to demonstrate that I was most likely one of many that was drawn in by her 'journey' but my cancer was too aggressive to even attempt a natural treatment...thank goodness I say. Well after 8 torturous rounds of chemo, surgery and radiation which I wouldn't wish on anybody - it was hell, I came out the other side and at worst I was able to see my first grandchild and at best I will still be around to annoy her into teenage hood. I truly feel for Jess and hope her next phase and acceptance of conventional treatment will give her either so much more time and hopefully even a cure. In regard to what others discuss about Jess, you should know that if anyone puts themselves on social media they are in fact open to criticism and discussion even if it is against the poster. I think Jess accepts that as she is a social media entrepreneur and even makes money from selling her ideas to others. Hopefully, most that have been affected by cancer will not follow her path. Chemo being mustard gas is such an old misinformed bit of nonsense and just to let you know, one of the hardest chemos I had with horrid side effects is actually an extract from the bark of the rare Pacific yew tree I am so grateful for our amazing scientists, researchers and doctors.

i think the best thing everyone can do for Jess and themselves, is to be supportive, send positive thoughts and prayers and non-judgemental. We don't know her path, what the universe has in store for her, or what lessons she will need to learn from this. I pray for her utmost healing and learning and I do think she is a very strong young woman to put herself out there.

Dr. you sound like such a bitter and close minded person. It's as if you abhor the notion that there could be other possibilities beside proven science. I've listened to your videos on you tube, and you're always so critical. You look for the worst in every situation and pounce on them. Might it be because you lack understanding.

Though I would have advised her to seek conventional healing from the beginning - because I believe in the power of both forms of healing - she chose otherwise. Conventional medicine works sometimes, but, don't go around acting like it's the savior for all diseases. There are quacks in both types.

Conventional medicine sucks sometimes and is just as disappointing as doing nothing at times. What about the people who choose the conventional route and still end up dead? They are no different to those who choose alternative and end up dead.

Listen, life is a mystery. The body is mysterious in so many ways. She promoted what she believed, just like you promote what you believe, which is not always right.

Good luck to Jess. May God bless her in her struggles. Ops, I forgot you don't believe in God.

"It’s as if you abhor the notion that there could be other possibilities beside proven science. "

Once they're proven, they're science. Unproven, they're...what, exactly?

@Shay, hypothesis, speculation or faith.
Many people have drank more than three glasses of milk a day, only recently did "science" prove that this was a bad idea.

By Colonel Tom (not verified) on 09 Feb 2015 #permalink

@Dannie - beyond vague generalities, then, what evidence is there that the treatments Ms. Ainscough chose (and recommended to others) have shown any clinical benefit for, well, anyone? What is the quality of that evidence?

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 09 Feb 2015 #permalink

be supportive, send positive thoughts and prayers and non-judgemental

Alas, I do not know her karmic e-address.

By Smut Clyde (not verified) on 09 Feb 2015 #permalink

I was watching a YouTube posting about Food Matters where Jess Ainscough was interviewing the Founder and CEO of Food a Matters James Colquhoun which was enlightening to say the least. I was impressed by Jess so decided to google her and landed on this site. Even though I do not know Jess it is Devastating to hear of her illness and my thought and prayers are with her and her family.
For what it's worth, my fathers law was given 6 months to live and decided to go natural and survived an additional 6 years of quality living but eventually surcummed to the disease.

Vince: I don't see any of the regular RI posters who is gloating over Ainscough's present situation.

Your testimonial about your father-in-laws 6 years survival after a cancer diagnosis and after a poor prognosis is what Orac refers to an "outlier"...described here:

"....In other words, Mrs. Rogala is like the proverbial pancreatic cancer patient who lives far longer than expected. She’s an outlier. A testimonial. As much as it pains me to admit it, she’s no different than the alternative medicine testimonial in that her story tells very little about how the typical cancer patient could expect to do at MSKCC and even less about whether MSKCC does better at preserving the fertility of cervical cancer patients than any other quality cancer center in the area. Moreover, as the NYT article pointed out, if a for-profit diet center used a testimonial to advertise its services, the FTC would require a description of what a more typical paitent could expect. No such requirement applies to nonprofit cancer centers...."

Maybe we should have respectful insolence for Lorena Rojas. She fought using conventional treatments and gosh darn, she died. Stop attacking people who choose a different path than you.

Jack - please point out any attacks on people for picking a "different path". Thanks.

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 17 Feb 2015 #permalink

Tell that to Orac ... his whole website attacks "different paths". You are the ghouls!

Jack originally said

Stop attacking people who choose a different path than you.

He later said

Tell that to Orac … his whole website attacks “different paths”.

Orac attacks medical advice (among other things) that is not backed by good solid evidence. He also calls out those people who promote treatments not backed by evidence, particularly those who make a buck from it.

That is not the same as attacking people who pick a different path.

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 21 Feb 2015 #permalink

Poor girl, she is still in denial. I just came across this, published a fortnight ago:

"As a result of the chemo I had on my arm four years ago, my left hand and arm is pretty damaged. I have next to no strength in it and my left middle finger is fused at the knuckle and curled over into my palm."…

Thank you Orca for your clear and wonderfully written blogs on this important subject. Such a sad update for Jess and her family and an all too familiar story with more and more people following the new age fundamentalist path for major health decisions. In September 2012 Jess was interviewed for an article "Holding out for a Miracle in The Australian one of our mutual country's most respected and widely read national newspapers (link below) I was also interviewed about my colleague and close friend of 30 years ATHENA STARWOMAN the famous celebrity Astrologer and new age author who also denied conventional medicine to treat her breast cancer to go natural therapies and positive thinking. Athena's husband is one of the presenters on the original 'The Secret". Athena's cancer was slow growing she could have had conventional help but by the time it has spread throughout her body and she was in her last weeks of life she did regret not trying everything the world had to offer to help her including operations, chemo as well as natural health maintenance but it was too late and my dearest friend, clever, smart and successful passed away 10 years ago. Please keep your mind open people on what nature truly is. Nature also helps our minds invent and develop medicines to help us and life is a precious gift.

Jess passed away yesterday. This is really sad news

Sadly, Jess Ainscough passed away today. RIP.

Jess passed away today. Sad news. RIP.

Jess passed away yesterday, 26 Feb 2015.

There hasn't been an announcement yet, but rumour has it that Jess has died. Her facebook page seems to have disappeared.

By Evidence-based (not verified) on 26 Feb 2015 #permalink

Her website just confimed that she had died.

By Evidence-based (not verified) on 26 Feb 2015 #permalink

I just saw on social media Jess passed away on the 26th of Feb. All her sites are shut down with just a memeorial on her page. So sad but now I wonder what must everyone be thinking?

It's very sad all round. But I really can't understand this either/or approach. Why can 't proven natural therapies which support the body's own immune system to fight illness and aid in the recovery process be incorporated into standard medical treatment. Better outcomes for everyone.

RIP Jess, now may you find peace and comfort with your sweet Mum x

Based on what she did, she didn't spend 7 years living with Cancer, she spent 7 years dying a slow agonizing death of Cancer.....

and helping make herself and her entourage a hell of a lot of money off of it at the same time.

I don't know what anyone else is thinking, but I want to know what happens to money?

Is it going to end up in court and the lawyers get most of it?
Did they plan for the money machine to continue on in the event of her inevitable absence?

That's where the real drama is.

To quote Tim Minchin,
"Do you know what they call alternative medicine that's been proved to work?

So the either/or concept of standard medical treatments separated from "natural" treatments is also incorrect.

Most doctors I know (or know of) don't object to patients trying most alternative therapies such as homeopathy, chiropractic adjustments, acupuncture*, reiki and prayer if used in addition to regular, established treatments. While some claim these therapies can cure, most clinical trials and studies show these to have - at best - comforting effect, and I personally would probably replace those with less "natural" therapies of watching movies and reading good books, and if possible, sampling fine foods.

There are some, like herbal medicine, black salve, MMS (bleach) enemas and it's ilk as well as the more extreme diets which can interfere with regular treatment and may in fact do serious harm. In my opinion should be recommended against by doctor(s) if they think there might be a problem,

But the sad truth is that sometimes the alternative, "natural" therapy is used instead of standard medical treatment - in which case, sadly, it doesn't lead to better outcomes for everyone. For example, and with the caveat of not knowing all that much about Ms Ainscough, it is my understanding that she chose natural or alternative therapies instead of standard medical treatment. For good or bad.

* Acupuncture, what with piercing skin with needles, may increase the risk of infections and inflammations, especially if the immune system is compromised.

Gosh, how *fabulous* it is to know that 'medical science' can offer a 100% solution to cancer! Here was I thinking that patients treated with Western medical treatments also happen to die, yet with all the self congratulatory tone of this post I'm certainly realising that I was wrong- if only individuals would stop all these alternative treatments and just get with the 100%, no worries at all cure that Western medical treatment provides! Gosh darn it, why would *anyone* want to go any other way when it's so *patently* obvious that the Western medical model has cancer cured completely?

Perhaps its because *they don't*. Perhaps its because individuals *have the right* to choose their path and how they live their life, regardless of the sanctimonious tones that those who *aren't* living those choices like to utter because yes, Western medicine has demonstrated it knows *exactly* what it is doing. I have seen individuals heal themselves of diseases that Western medicine states *emphatically* cannot be cured- what then? Oh, of course, it's all bunkum and snake oil- unless Western medicine happens to be involved, at which the doctors are more than happy to take credit for what has happened even when they have *no idea at all*.

My mother did everything her doctors told her to do when she had breast cancer, even when the procedures ended up giving her medically induced PTSD; guess what? *She died*. As did many of her aunts and her grandmother before her, who *also* followed to the letter the dictates of medical professionals. Where is the sanctimonious smugness then?

What utter heteronomy is here. No wonder the medical 'profession' has taken to the practice of *forcing* medical treatments onto those that don't want them, even by using the courts to enforce their will: with such arrogance and self righteousness, what else can be expected?

You know, Mr Rimfire, all those asterisks add exactly nothing to what I shall laughingly call 'your argument'.
No-one suggests that western medicine is 100 per cent effective. People die. Sometimes nothing can save them. But a nice bunch of greens with a snake-oil dressing, followed by a waste of good coffee certainly won't.
Also 'heteronomy'? Have you seen The Princess Bride, Mr Rimfire? A character called Inigo Montoya has a line I think could apply a fortiori to you.

So sad.

RIP Jess. Thank you for changing my entire perception - taking me from being a careless, unhealthy, unhappy person to finding the strength within me to have a voice, do my own research, follow my heart, and surround myself with goodness and love. Your journey was a journey of inspiration and love, and your star will shine for ever. You have inspired me to change my life for the better and for that I will always be truly
grateful. Rest in peace earth angel xxx

By Wellnesswarrio… (not verified) on 27 Feb 2015 #permalink

I know this story intimately. It was Sharon ( the mother) that decided on the alternative treatment, Sharon that quit her job, did the research, made every juice and meal and administered this to Jess. Jess did not convince Sharon to do anything. No one could talk Sharon out of her decisions, Sharon truly believed in what they were doing. Jess was a writer. Its a tragic story with a tragic ending for both of them.

Jess xx you were a true hero to so many people x RIP sweetheart.

you fought so hard & gave hope to so many people, you are the wellness warrior & always will be.
It's a known fact that when you lose someone in your life, like your beautiful mother, it rocks your world including you immune system. Go now to join your mother sweetheart.... to good for this world xx RIP. Our deepest sympathy to Talon xx

By Jill Bruce (not verified) on 27 Feb 2015 #permalink

Extremely tragic, made even more so by the years of Jess living in denial of her condition & attempting to convince her followers that everything was going just fine.....

I will never take anyone's death lightly, but Jess did a huge disservice by misrepresenting her condition.

Thanks RIMFIRE, you took the words right out of my mouth.
Interesting that people will swear black and blue that the medical industry heals people of cancer and yet Doctors themselves will never make the claim that they cure cancer, people generally die of the cancer treatments. The medical industry has the highest rate of deaths and lowest rate of survival, just don't try to tell the general public that.