Respectful Insolence

About a month and a half ago, I discussed an e-mail that was being propagated far and wide that described the case of the mother of a 17 year old male who, or so the e-mail claimed, cured her son of stage IV melanoma using “natural means” and was supposedly thrown in maximum security prison by the Department of Child Services in California for “failing to properly care for her child.” The e-mail, which was being used by an organization called Natural Solutions USA or Health Freedom USA (I was never quite sure), reproduced here, described what seemed on the surface to be a truly horrific abuse of governmental power–that is, unless you know something about melanoma. In any case, I deconstructed the letter, which was written by a man identified as Thomas Cowles II, Media Director, Natural Solutions Foundation, who, amusingly enough, also showed up in the comments to try to defend what was clearly his use of an urban legend to raise money for his organization.

After my two posts on the e-mail, I moved on to other things, filing the incident in the back of my mind. Perhaps you wondered if I ever found out anything more about this story. Thanks to a reader, over the weekend, I did. It turns out that there’s now a version of the story that’s been making the rounds of blogs, websites, and discussion forums that includes a lot more details but isn’t all that much more believable than the first version. I’ll explain, but first, here’s the version of the story (Mother Jailed, Put On Trial for Curing Her Son of Melanoma) that I was just made aware of:

An unholy alliance of California Child Protective Services (CPS) with a hostile doctor and judge is attempting to railroad Laurie Jessop, framed as a threat to her son and the establishment for finding a way to cure him of malignant melanoma. She is now on trial, under a gag order, since she had gone to the press. When she was arrested, she was put in maximum security, solitary confinement, in the Orange County, CA jail. They claim that everything about. her says anti-Establishment, so she was told, as she was considered a threat in starting a riot.

On the morning of Sept. 12, Gary Null read on KPFK, a Pacifica station in Los Angeles, an e-mail from Ron Miller, who had met Ms. Jessop at the Cancer Control Society annual convention during the Labor Day weekend. They had discussed this persecution by Big Brother in the guise of saving her son from this evil mother who has failed to protect him! She disobeyed doctor’s orders and found a natural way to cure her son. These forces arrayed against her and insisted he must have the cancer removed surgically and attacked with the standard chemical fare. The cancer is gone, but nobody in authority will accept that because her doctor doesn’t believe that’s possible.

This story about this adolescent (now revealed as Chad Jessop) is being parroted credulously about the part of the blogosphere prone to believing such stories. Nor is it confined to libertarian or right wing sources. Even the Democratic Underground has gotten in on the act, with the responses to the story being a mix between the painfully credulous and, fortunately, a fair amount of skepticism.

Not surprisingly, I was utterly unable to locate any reputable news source describing this story, despite using the search terms based on all the possible mispellings provided by the Angry Scientist, the main source of this “update,” including “Jessop melanoma” and “Jessup melanoma.” (I only used the two spellings of the mother and son’s last name provided.) So, right off the bat, we have apparently only a single unverifiable web source, with no reputable news sources to corroborate it. The story as presented by the Angry Scientist appears to be spreading across the blogosphere with pleas to send the story to “everyone you know” and some truly idiotic commentary wondering why the major media hasn’t picked up on it. That’s not a bad question, actually, if you actually think about it in more than a conspiracy-mongering fever dream. It couldn’t be because the story is dubious in the extreme, could it? Just a thought to consider. Of course, none of this prevents credulous twits from crying Nazi over the alleged abuse of “health freedom” by the state. Basically, we have Gary Null and a fan of Gary Null spreading this story. That’s it.

But even this embellished story isn’t particularly compelling if you know anything about melanoma:

The initial biopsy of the mole was done in February. Their regular doctor was on leave when test results came in. A nurse informed them of the bad news. On May 8, Chad Jessop had a follow up appointment with a medical group doctor, by the name of Dr. Masciana, who insisted he needed surgery to excise the site within a week, or he could die any day now! This doctor is a general practitioner, not an oncologist or qualified to do cancer diagnosis or surgery. Chad and his mom decided to pursue holistic treatment for him. Incensed, the doctor reported her to Child Protective Services on the grounds of gross negligent child endangerment. She yelled at Laurie “all of you Jehovah’s Witnesses are all the same,” never mind Laurie and Chad are not Jehovah’s witnesses. Dr. Masciana also told Laurie, with her son present, that his death was imminent. At the close of the appointment, Dr. Masciana informed Laurie that she was referring the case to Social Services. In further investigation, Child Protective Social Services is a misnamed government agency whose employees get paid bonuses every time they take children away from their parents.

That evening Laurie called an attorney who advised her that she had 48 hours or less before Social Services showed up. If she could not prove she was following doctor’s orders, they’d take her son. Since Dr. Masciana had created such a traumatic experience for Chad, he feared the doctors and threatened to run away

Not surprisingly, a search for “Masciana and melanoma” produced only the same blogs and discussion forums where this story was posted verbatim. I don’t know if this is the Dr. Masciana to whom the story is referring, but it seems likely. In any case, once again, there is no information on this story other than the same story provided by the Angry Scientist, with the story appearing verbatim on many blogs and discussion forums.

But what about the claim that Ms. Jessop “cured” her son using “natural” methods? Here’s that part of the story:

In honoring Chad’s wishes for continued holistic care, Laurie took her son to San Diego to continue holistic care using a number of various alternative treatments such as: ozone, hyperbaric oxygen chamber, hydrogen peroxide, energy work, Rife, nutritional supplements, and deep emotional work. Laurie also used “black salve” that she purchased from Canada to remove the mole tissue. Black salve was developed by Native American Indians more than 200 years ago, and used in the treatment of skin lesions, cancers, warts, and moles. Figures our FDA banned it, because it works.

No, the reason that the FDA has banned “black salve” products is not because they “work,” but rather how they work, a mechanism that can produce really nasty consequences. (Warning: Not for the squeamish.) Basically, such “salves” are claimed to “draw out” the cancer. In reality, what they do is burn. I find it truly ironic that advocates of alternative medicine would rant about how “allopathy” does nothing but “cut,” “burn,” or “poison” cancer but then can advocate for a “salve” that is nothing but a highly corrosive agent that burns the skin, sometimes horrifically. The description of the Jessops’ use of the salve would be hilarious were it not so disturbing:

They applied “Black Salve” directly to the area in question, thus giving Chad a holistic version of a large border excision. It took about two and a half weeks for the wound to heal. When it was healed Laurie took Chad to a Del Mar dermatologist for a biopsy. The test results were negative of any signs of melanoma! The next two weeks were concentrated on once again healing the tissue to get another biopsy. Upon the wound site being healed, a melanoma specialist did a punch biopsy and a complete lab analysis on Friday, June 15.

For a small melanoma, this is certainly possible. However, the mechanism of action is little different than putting an acid paste on the lesion and burning it away. One thing about this story that struck me, though: What happened to the metastatic disease? If you recall, the original story claimed that Jessop was “cured” of advanced melanoma by “natural” means. Of course, I inferred that it was advanced because the letter claimed that pressure was being placed on the Jessops to undergo more surgery and chemotherapy. If you look at the story, though, it appears that the boy had nothing more than an isolated early stage melanoma, for which surgery alone is usually sufficient, except for thick melanomas, where biological therapy might be considered as an adjuvant. The followup essentially confirms this opinion:

Again, no sign of cancer could be found in the biopsy and the blood work was in healthy ranges with no distinguishing markers that would otherwise be present in a patient that would have advanced stage four melanoma, as had been previously reported! Was it a miracle, or an activated immune system in a healthy young man, with some useful help, that healed the melanoma?

My educated guess on the answer: None of the above. Notice that the story says “if” Chad had stage four melanoma but doesn’t actually say that he does or give any evidence to allow us to asses whether he does or not. My guess is that he doesn’t have stage four disease and never did have stage four disease. As for the main claim, it was simply the melanoma being ablated by a caustic salve. It’s a method that can work for superficial tumors, but it’s a lot less reliable than a simple wide local excision. Indeed, the use of caustics in this case is actually much less precise and potentially more disfiguring than surgery. (Take it for what it’s worth, but one commenter who claims to have seen photos of Chad’s wound after using the black salve describes it as a “huge, deep, necrotic lesion that will leave a hideous scar, probably with keloid tissue, for life.” If that’s true, it would put a whole new spin on the case and would indeed justify a charge of child abuse, as far as I’m concerned.) Finally, burning the melanoma in this fashion also fails to evaluate the regional lymph nodes to see if the tumor has spread there, in which case a complete excision of the relevant lymph node basin can be potentially curative. But, hey, using a caustic, corrosive goo to burn away the tumor is “natural,” so it must be better, right? Even if it leaves a big necrotic scalp wound?

Given all the other inconsistencies in the story, I can’t really comment much on the part describing how Laurie Jessop was jailed and allegedly mistreated in prison. If it’s true, it is indeed appalling, but, barring corroboration by a reliable source, I find that part of the story about as convincing as the description of Chad Jessop’s “curing” melanoma using “natural” means. Indeed, look at this description of the testimony of a dermatologist supposedly retained by CPS:

Now Laurie is on trial, forbidden to speak under a gag order, by the very judge that had issued the bench warrant for her arrest, because she refused to go along with orthodox medicine. The dermatologist, appointed by Social Services, testified in court that the melanoma is playing hide and go seek, that they’d have to subject Chad to unnecessary and dangerous further biopsies and medical procedures to find where it migrated to. The dermatologist further stated that the melanoma had become even more deadly, claiming it has now traveled to different organs. The prescription for surgery is a large border excision to the skullbone.

Yes, I’m sure this dermatologist, conveniently never identified, said that Chad would have to be subjected to “unnecessary and dangerous” further biopsies. In any case, no melanoma expert worth his or her salt would have put it that way. The way I would have put it is:

  1. We don’t know if the caustic goo burned away all the tumor with an adequate margin of normal tissue to be curative. This means that a wide excision is needed to make sure that there’s no tumor left. It will also remove the nasty scar left by the caustic agent.
  2. We need to know whether the tumor has spread to the regional lymph nodes; so we need to do what is known as a sentinel lymph node biopsy, which involves injecting a special dye around the site of the tumor and removing the lymph nodes that the dye accumulates in. If the sentinel node is positive for tumor, then all the lymph nodes in that basin would need to be removed to have a chance of curing the cancer.
  3. We don’t know whether the tumor has gone to the rest of the body. Consequently, it may be necessary to do CT scans to look for suspicious lesions. If the nodes are negative and the melanoma is not thick, the chances that it’s spread to the rest of the body are quite small.

I also would point out that dermatologists, although they frequently diagnose melanoma and excise small melanomas, usually don’t do the definitive surgical therapy. Surgeons specializing in cancer surgery do. Be that as it may, the description of the dermatologist’s testimony sounds fishy. Certainly the characterization that this dermatologist thinks that Chad could die any day sounds really off-base. If Chad truly were in danger of dying any day, he would be really sick, to the point of being moribund. Even if the patient had metastatic disease, a melanoma specialist would know that a patient who is feeling and functioning well is not likely to die “any day” from his disease. It’s usually a slow deterioration.

Finally, there’s the gag order:

I’m helping her get her story out. One newspaper did a story, but in general, very little has been reported so far. I tried to find the story online, but no luck. A press conference was held on Sept. 6th, just before court. Two of the major TV news stations and one of the largest AM radio all news stations showed up. KFWB radio ran the story immediately that day. As soon as court started the judge announced that there was a gag order on this case and threatened jail time and contempt of court to anyone (including the minor in question), that spoke to the press or anyone else for that matter. One of the TV news stations didn’t want to run the story without interviewing Chad and getting his viewpoints. The judge denied a continuance six different times, ignoring all six times valid reasons for the requests. The judge also denied Laurie the right to hire her own attorney! She retained a law firm with her own money, but the judge insisted she has to keep her Public Defender, presumably as a public servant easier to control than a private attorney not so dependent on the system.

How convenient. Is it just me, or did anyone else wonder how no one but the Angry Scientist can get away with violating this supposed gag order? Or doesn’t the gag order apply to blogs? Be that as it may, I still can’t find the story online, other than on blogs like The Angry Scientist.

Particularly hard to believe is the last part. Last time I checked, a judge can’t prevent a defendant from hiring her own attorney. There’s a little something called the Constitution that prevents a judge from doing something like that. In fact, that last little bit is perhaps the most dubious part of the story. It truly insults my intelligence, but apparently not the intelligence of some of the Angry Scientist’s readers, one of whom asks:

SO WHY NOT APPEAL THE JUDGE’S DECISION?

AND REMOVE HIM FROM THE CASE?

HOW CAN A JUDGE REFUSE A DEFENDANT FROM HIRING AN ATTORNEY?

THIS IS ILLEGAL AND THE CALIFORNIA BAR SHOULD NOT STAND FOR THIS.

He’s asking the right question but fails to take it to the next level and wonder if perhaps the whole claim is false, and then take it up one more level and wonder if the whole story is dubious. After all, a fair amount of latitude is generally given to the wishes of adolescents on the verge of adulthood, as Chad Jessop, if he exists, is. Remember, this is a second hand story from an e-mail sent by Ron Miller and supposedly read by Gary Null on his radio show.

So what’s the bottom line? Is there any truth to this story? I have no idea. It’s impossible to tell, given that there is no way of corroborating it using reliable sources. I do know, however, that the story as told by the Angry Scientist has a lot of elements that set my skeptical antennae all atwitter. Indeed, the story has the look and feel of an urban legend, this latest embellishment on the story notwithstanding. There’s the horrific story that plays on common fears of loss of control and an overreaching government, combined with a convenient (albeit unconvincing) reason why the story hasn’t shown up in the mainstream press. My guess is that there is probably a real case upon which this story is based but that it’s been exaggerated and twisted beyond recognition in the service of a political end, be it raising money or eviscerating child protection laws, so that quackery is on an equal footing with evidence-based medicine, at least in the eyes of the law.

Sadly, I’ve yet to find much in the way of a skeptical treatment of this story, other than mine. If you look at the comments in any of the blogs or forums where this story is posted, invariably the comments are all outraged, with only the occasional questioning comment. More’s the pity, because this story has so many holes in it it you could use it as a sponge.

ALL POSTS ON THIS STORY THUS FAR:

  1. The story of the 17-year-old with melanoma being forced to undergo chemotherapy: Urban legend?
  2. Thomas Cowles twisting in the wind defending the “cancer boy” urban legend
  3. An update on the youth who “cured himself” of melanoma, Chad Jessop
  4. One last update (for now) on the youth who “cured himself” of melanoma, Chad Jessop
  5. “I have seen the light! The Chad Jessop melanoma story happened. Really.”
  6. Lee Woodard on the Chad Jessop melanoma story: “Why would I promote a hoax?”

OTHER SKEPTICAL TAKES:

  1. Legendary Legend or Mysterious Mystery?

PUBLICATIONS REFERENCED:

  1. Dear Health Freedom Fighters (September 12, 2007)
  2. The Gary Null Show 9/13/2007 (The relevant segment is at approximately the 11:45 minute mark.)
  3. Mother Jailed, Put On Trial for Curing Her Son of Melanoma (October 3, 2007)
  4. Mother Jailed, Put On Trial for Curing Her Son of Melanoma (published in the Los Angeles Free Press on 11/12/2007, PDF here)

Comments

  1. #1 angry doc
    November 5, 2007

    “holistic version of a large border excision”

    Priceless. I actually laughed out loud when I read that.

    I can see it now:

    “Black-salve it with a wide border – it’s the only way to be sure.”

  2. #2 MartinM
    November 5, 2007

    But, hey, using a caustic, corrosive goo to burn away the tumor is “natural,” so it must be better, right?

    You know, I’ve been considering supplementing my meagre salary by inventing my own alternative treatment program, but until now I had no idea what to go for.

    On an entirely unrelated note, anyone happen to know where one would acquire a school of highly-trained piranahs?

  3. #3 Constance Reader
    November 5, 2007

    Orac, did you just do extensive web searches, or do you have a Lexis/Nexis account? That might help, as might a subscription to a search tool such as FindLaw. If this story is true, they’d have it.

    Most states have online databases of active cases, but they can be very difficult to wade through. I’ve tried it and while it does produce results, it can be a very time-consuming task.

  4. #4 RM
    November 5, 2007

    If you really wanted to check (I don’t – it sounds like a bunch of crap to me.), there are several ways to do it.

    First off, try and contact the news media in question. It’s rather vague and nebulous, but KFWB is mentioned specifically. contact their Ombudsman. S/he is responsible for the reputation and accuracy of the reporting, and will help with confirming/denying that they ever ran a story, and what they said about it. They’ll probably also know if there is a gag order on the case. You can do the same with the TV stations, trying to locate the two unspecified ones.

    You can probably also get the court records on the case. Although there may be a gag order on the participants, the official court records should be open. At the very least you should be able to find out a) if there is a court proceeding and b)what the charges are. The exact details of the court proceedings (details on council, etc.) might be sealed until the case is over, but I doubt it.

    If you can’t get info due to some gag order, you might also want to talk to the California ombudsman, and talk about the legality of the gag/sealing orders being enforced.

    Finally, as you have identified a potential Dr. Masciana, you may want to contact him/his office for an official statement. If the story is utter bollocks, he’ll probably say so. If he is under a court-ordered gag rule, he’ll say that too.

    Above all, remember to be courteous while being inquisitive. Most likely the people won’t tell you anything not because they’re trying to hide something, but because they don’t know anything.

  5. #5 Atheotatous
    November 5, 2007

    The only things I can find on “Laurie Jessop” that do not deal with this story is that she sells wands at this website: http://www.goldkhu.com/contact.htm

    She seems “credible.” And there is nothing about a “Laurie Jessop,” “Laurie Jessup,” or “Chad Jesso(u)p” on either Lexis-Nexis or WestLaw. I’d call bullshit on the whole story. May be someone could use that contact information to contact Laurie Jessop about the veracity of this story?

    The only thing I can find about a Chad Jessop from Lake Forest is that he became an Eagle Scout in 2006 ( http://escouter.ocbsa.org/articles/features/announce.html ). Other then that, he doesn’t seem to exist on the web according to the all-knowing Google.

  6. #6 AnnR
    November 5, 2007

    I shudder when I heard “black salve”.

    Someone at work (who had perfectly good insurance coverage) treated their wife’s breast cancer with that. Yes the tumor did go away, but then it came back, plus it got into her bones and brain and she died.

    I hadn’t realized until reading your account how horrible the salve must have been.

  7. #7 Julie Stahlhut
    November 5, 2007

    About 20 years ago, a friend of mine died of melanoma at age 29. Because the original malignancy was on his scalp, where he couldn’t see it, it was advanced by the time it was diagnosed.

    It’s the worst thing I’ve ever seen happen to anyone, hands down.

    Why anyone with a small, potentially curable melanoma would trust his life to snake oil is disturbing beyond measure.

  8. #8 khan
    November 5, 2007

    In further investigation, Child Protective Social Services is a misnamed government agency whose employees get paid bonuses every time they take children away from their parents.

    BTW, I’ve seen this accusation in various semi-literate screeds about the ‘evil CPS’.

  9. #9 Coin
    November 5, 2007

    One newspaper did a story, but in general, very little has been reported so far. I tried to find the story online, but no luck. A press conference was held on Sept. 6th, just before court. Two of the major TV news stations and one of the largest AM radio all news stations showed up. KFWB radio ran the story immediately that day.

    And just as in Mr. Cowles’ comments before, multiple media sources are mentioned as having reported on the issue but their names are not given. If “one newspaper” did a story, why would this person even need to “find the story online”? Wouldn’t it be sufficient to give us the name of the newspaper? Newspapers tend to be available in print editions, from what I hear.

    If this “angry scientist” person can’t give us the names of the two TV stations or one newspaper to investigate this story, and their only way of attempting to get a cite on that claim is to look for an article “online”, exactly how do they know two TV stations or one newspaper reported on or looked into this story? Did they see the article, then lose it? Or did they just hear the “one newspaper” article existed, secondhand, but never see this article themselves?

    On the bright side, at least slightly more information is given than before: KFWB is cited as one of the mysterious media sources that supposedly reported on this story, and we actually have a name. I would be very curious if someone were to follow up on RM’s suggestion to contact KFWB and confirm they ran this story.

    I would also like to repeat something I noted in a comment to Orac’s previous article on this subject, which is that the process for unsealing Orange County juvenile court records, which is if I’m not terribly mistaken where dependency cases would take place, appears to be quite simple and open as long as one is actually physically in Orange County:

    Other interested persons and the news media may petition the Orange County Juvenile Court for access to specific juvenile court records…

    Petitions to Inspect and Receive Copies of Juvenile Records (WIC Section 827) are available at the Juvenile Court, 341 City Drive, P.O. Box 14169, Orange, Ca. 92613. There is no charge for the form.

    The completed petition can be mailed to the above address or delivered to Juvenile Court Reception on the second floor of the Lamoreaux Justice Center. The Juvenile Court does not accept petitions via facsimile.

    I expect it should at least be possible by this method to determine whether Chad Jessop exists.

    For the record, here’s a wrap-up of all the claims that have shown up in this saga so far which are potentially verifiable by court records. Have I missed anything?

    According to Thomas Cowles of “Health Freedom USA”:

    – The dependency case went to court on Sept. 6 [of 2007?]
    – The “attorney present” was named Christopher Taylor

    According to “The Angry Scientist”:

    – The melanoma patient is named Chad Jessop and is 17 years old
    – A daughter was also reassigned by social services, Crystal Jessop
    – The mother is named Laurie Jessop
    – The father, named “Marcus”, supports social services’ decision and has gone to court with a public defender in support of this
    – Marcus is previously married to, but divorced from, Laurie, and had at some point in the past been taken to court over failure to pay child support
    – The case was originally referred to CPS by a Dr. Masciana

    — — — —

    Incidentally, I find it interesting that “Marcus” had not come up in discussion of this subject before now. I think most people would have a very different gut reaction to “noncustodial father gets state to force son to undergo treatment for melanoma, against wishes of custodial mother” than “state steps in and takes away children because they didn’t like the parent’s medical choices”– it may not be entirely reasonable to be more comfortable with the first of these things than the second, but I think a lot of people would be anyway– but in previous versions of this story only the latter framing was presented.

    At the very least, the existence of a parent siding with the state on all this changes significantly the whole gag order aspect, as does the existence of “Crystal”. Regardless of who is in the right in the respect of custody/medical care, there is some degree to which it is reasonable for the state to sometimes not make records public, or issue gag orders on one parent, in custody cases in the interest of protecting the privacy of the other parent and/or children involved. In the previous version of the story, on the other hand, we were meant to believe the mother and the son were the only parties involved here; that both parties wanted their story to be told; and that the state was preventing them from going public with this for apparently no reason other than to prevent review of its own actions.

  10. #10 DLC
    November 5, 2007

    Shenanigans!
    I’m not a medical professional and I can spot the misinformation and inaccuracies in the presented material.
    Equally, I’m not a lawyer and I can spot the legal inaccuracies in the material.
    As for the blogger who printed this; he may be Angry, but I have to wonder how much of a Scientist he is.

  11. #11 Angry Scientist
    November 6, 2007

    He who laughs last, laughs best. You quackbusters are a riot. Dr. Stephen Barrett has been losing in court lately. It seems juries don’t agree with his claims of defamation.

  12. #12 MartinM
    November 6, 2007

    If you look at the comments in any of the blogs or forums where this story is posted, invariably the comments are all outraged, with only the occasional questioning comment.

    No kidding. I just skimmed the comments on the Angry ‘Scientist’ post.

    Interestingly enough, there are two comments there posted by people claiming to be Rose and Abraham Cherrix. Recall that Thomas Cowles claimed that the Jessops had been in touch with both Rose and Abraham. The comment by Rose makes no mention of this. The comment by Abraham ends:

    If you are in contact with these folks, and they are able to, please have them contact me.

    Doesn’t sound like someone who has already had contact with the Jessops to me.

    On a side note, Abraham – if this really was him – seems to be firmly off the deep end:

    Apparently the government is against alternative medicine, but is that because they think is won’t work or they know IT WILL?? I think the latter.

    If the system is going to railroad you into their methods and call themselves docters (The word doctor came from dek, meaning something proper and acceptable, useful. HAHA.), then those are the kinds of people who need to get cancer, find out chemo failed, and see if they don’t try something else!

    I saw precisely one sceptical comment. The only person who even acknowleged the existence of that comment was the Angry ‘Scientist,’ who said:

    The foolish skeptic who thinks this case is bogus could easily find Laurie Jessop on Google. She has been involved in alternative health for years. She is a real person, and this really happened. I know. I’ve met her, Ron Miller, and Gary Null. I know a lot of stuff off the record I can’t even hint at. Year unknown? This all happened this year. I guess I should’ve made that clear!

    That’s the sum total of his response. Well, that clears it all up, no?

    Highlight of the comments has to be this, again from the Angry ‘Scientist.’

    I do have standards for this blog.

  13. #13 MartinM
    November 6, 2007

    He who laughs last, laughs best. You quackbusters are a riot. Dr. Stephen Barrett has been losing in court lately. It seems juries don’t agree with his claims of defamation.

    I can’t help but notice the total absence of corroboration there. A clear case of table-pounding if ever I saw one.

  14. #14 Orac
    November 6, 2007

    He who laughs last, laughs best. You quackbusters are a riot. Dr. Stephen Barrett has been losing in court lately. It seems juries don’t agree with his claims of defamation.

    I see that you can’t corroborate your story in any way.

    I’m now more sure than ever that it probably either never happened or is exaggerated beyond recognition.

  15. #15 Diora
    November 6, 2007

    “You know, I’ve been considering supplementing my meagre salary by inventing my own alternative treatment program, but until now I had no idea what to go for.”
    An easier way would be to just come up with a story that includes a fatal desease, family wanting to pursue alternative treatment, bad doctors and judges, create a website and ask for donations for legal costs. Still a fraud, but at least you’d be swindling stupid healthy people instead of sick people.

  16. #16 MartinM
    November 6, 2007

    But I like piranahs :(

  17. #17 Calli Arcale
    November 6, 2007

    They applied “Black Salve” directly to the area in question, thus giving Chad a holistic version of a large border excision.

    I have to wonder if a lot of alternative medicine folks even know what the word “holistic” means. It’s become a synonym for alternative medicine — so much so that dictionaries cite that as the definition — but that’s not what it used to mean. It’s been distorted into absurdity.

    Once upon a time, it meant “of or pertaining to the whole entity”. Why that should exclude conventional medicine is beyond me — or why people should think something is “holistic” when it makes such herculean efforts to avoid thinking about the whole entity. Take chiropractic. It doesn’t matter what’s wrong with you; it treats your spine, utterly ignoring the rest of your body’s influence on your health. It’s about as non-holistic as something can be, in my opinion, yet the proponents of “holistic” medicine seem not to realize this.

    It’s as ironic (and depressing) as the frequent claims that skeptics just aren’t open-minded enough because they refuse to take it on faith that homeopathy/crystals/whatever actually work.

  18. #18 vlad
    November 7, 2007

    Now I’m really going to make him angry. Well I looked at the website that shows him as losing his case.
    http://www.canlyme.com/quackwatch.html

    The case outcome may or may not be correct, with that kind of legal power (Turner and Negrete: I’d say many things but these two love suing their detractors) I’m not surprised he lost if he did. However the idiot who published this site screwed the pooch. Barrett is licensed in PA. I’m adding the link in the next post to avoid the spam blocker.

  19. #19 vlad
    November 7, 2007

    http://www.licensepa.state.pa.us/
    publicinfo.asp?sid=268928087&record=0&facility=
    False&l_person_id=528406&l_profession_id=1700&
    l_license_id=528406&Last_Name=Barrett&
    First_Name=Stephen&License_number=&Facility_Name=&DBA_Name=

  20. #20 Berney
    November 9, 2007

    This story is real and the Jessops are real as was the melanoma and the fear that they lived under while seeking a natural remedy for the disease. I personally worked on them and actually saw the melanoma myself. The Jessop’s parked outside our health center for 3 weeks while they were undergoing various treatments. There were at least 20 other people here that can testify to what I am saying as they were all here during that time. They were clients as well as practitioners and they all were wishing them well in their attempt to heal this disease.
    I am not a doctor and therefore cannot speak to this from a medical perspective. I am a health practitioner and energy worker as well as a spiritual counselor. The health center does have an MD on staff and can also claim the validity of the story as far as the healing work goes. As for the legal parts of the story I can not say as I was not in the court or at the jails and so forth. However, having met the Jessops and having experienced what the AMA and the legal arm of the government is like I feel that the story is true. It is possible that it is a bit over dramatized but I would find that a bit hard to believe in light of it all. So for sure they exist as do I and for sure they did have the work done. The work we did for them at the Alternative Health and Weight Loss Center in San Diego can be checked. If you want to call us our number is on our website. http://www.althealthcenter.com
    Peace

  21. #21 Orac
    November 9, 2007

    If that’s the case, then why couldn’t Mr. Woodward find any evidence that this story ever happened? He clearly wanted very badly to believe the story to be true and worked hard to find evidence for it, but was unable to find any evidence that it was, reluctantly admitting that he thinks it’s a hoax.

    Sorry, but you’ll have to do better than that.

  22. #22 Bronze Dog
    November 9, 2007

    Wouldn’t be surprised if this person ended up being the guy who put the Big Altie propaganda into circulation. The only “evidence” is the chain email with all the credibility of a notice about winning the Nigerian lottery, and now some guy claiming to know them.

    So, which is more likely: A spammed hoax, or the entire legal and medical system is corrupt from top to bottom within the locality? I’ll take the far less cynical option, which also happens to make the most scientific and logical sense: It’s a hoax.

  23. #23 Berney
    November 9, 2007

    I am not sure about Mt Woodward or anyone else. I am just telling you what I know. Keep in mind that when they left here and returned to Orange County I had no reason to stay in contact with them. I have a busy schedule and they are clients that got what they came for and left. They don’t even live in the same county as I do. I found out about what had happened after it had happened. I am speaking about the legal area of the story. Anyway, as for all that, as I stated, I can’t attest for it personally as I was not there. I can only say what I make up as a result of having worked with and counseled these people. I am sure that some things may be stated in a overly zealous fashion however that does not mean it didn’t happen. They are good people and they just tried to do something that they felt more comfortable with. There was no conspiracy about it at all. All these things just happened as a result of action and reaction. I certainly had no idea it would happen or that I would find myself replying to a blog about it all. It is an interesting story but even more interesting is what it brings out in people as they hear about it.
    Lastly let me say that I am not attempting to prove or disprove anything. I am just letting you and who ever else cares that they are real people and that there was a melanoma and that they in fact did seek natural remedies for it. Besides that you would have to find someone else that can say one way or the other if the the rest of the story is truthful or not.

  24. #24 Been There, Done That
    November 9, 2007

    Give me a break. You guys paid by the medical community to disagree or what? Go to the website Berney listed, look it up, see it is legit, as is he. Then e-mail or call them and ask about the Jessups? They are real, whether you like it or not. Berney is real, as I have corresponded with him via e-mail through the contact link at the clinic. BTW – he also told me that the charges have been dropped and Laurie is now suing the state and working to get legislation similar to Abraham’s law passed in CA. Mr. Woodward, if he is real, couldn’t confirm it because he didn’t try. . .reluctantly called it hoax my foot! I tried, and yes, confirmed it.

    I’m sure you’ll try to say I’m not real either. Just pinched myself – I am. amazing. . . .

  25. #25 HCN
    November 9, 2007

    Been There, Done That evoked the infamous “pharma shill” with “You guys paid by the medical community to disagree or what”

    Yeah, right, like we haven’t heard that before. Can you tell us where to apply for payment?

    Then continues with ” Laurie is now suing the state and working to get legislation similar to Abraham’s law passed in CA”

    This sounds like something that would involve public petitioning of the California legislature, perhaps even a news article or two. Where are they?

  26. #26 MartinM
    November 9, 2007

    So if the charges have been dropped, I guess that means no more gag order. Right? This should all be settled by…now, actually. Where the hell are all the news articles?

  27. #27 Coin
    November 9, 2007

    Confused about a few things.

    1. Who is Stephen Barrett, and why are we expected to care? There seem to be a lot of posts about him here.

    2. Why are we expected to believe http://www.althealthcenter.com any more than we believe “The Angry Scientist” or “Health Freedom USA”? It seems odd to me how repeatedly in this case people asking for corroboration of claims from an unverifiable source are referred simply to another unverifiable source– and, of course, no two of these sources seem to really agree.

    3. And even if there is reason to take them as trustworthy, wouldn’t they be able only to confirm that Chad and Laurie Jessop exist, and possibly additionally that Chad at one time had melanoma? (Actually, given HIPAA, could they even tell us that much?) While it is indeed very odd that no one has yet been able to definitively even establish their existence, were this confirmed it would not really tell us anything useful.

    However, having met the Jessops and having experienced what the AMA and the legal arm of the government is like I feel that the story is true.

    Funny how this is always what it comes down to. Facts don’t matter, only whether it “feels” right….

  28. #28 Berney
    November 9, 2007

    Let’s give it a rest. I personally have only received one personal response to this which leads me to think that fighting out int the ethers is a more desired way of communicating then face to face. I am easy enough to contact and yes you are right, what does it really prove if you do speak with me and find out that not only am I real but the Jessops as well and the melanoma also. It says nothing but that it did exist. However it can prove that much and then you have a start into the rest of the story if you really want to look. This kind of situation is not new and it has happened many times. Just recently in Texas. Most instances don’t make the news because the news is not what you think it is. I have spoken to the media many times about important (to me anyway) issues of health only to be told it would have to be OK’d by someone and it never does. If you truly believe that the news is the authority and that if it doesn’t come across the tube or the radio or print that it couldn’t have happened then you are seriously missing it. More happens in this world then you obviously are aware of. None the less I can understand your desire to know more as it is mine as well. In the end it may be possible that modern medicine, which if you looked up the history of it would surprise you a bit,and the alternative therapies can and do work well together when allowed. In fact everyday there are more and more discoveries that bring the two together. So rather than attempting to create more confusion and fear lets just find ways to help people get better. What ever that is. What a person holds true in their mind has a lot more potential to help them then something that a person can’t latch onto. In your case I do hope that science and medicine will always be there for you and that hopefully you never have to rely on them. I personally prefer the preventative approach, which by the way generally falls into the alternative realm, however, it is what works for me. So if all is as good as it can be then we will both live to ripe old ages and one day look back at this and laugh at how little we knew back then.

  29. #29 HCN
    November 10, 2007

    Simple question: Why should we believe you?

  30. #30 Berney
    November 10, 2007

    Same question to you. Your protests are statement of beliefs as well. You are making claims. Just because it is posted as a question doesn’t mean it is not a statement. So why should we believe your position holds anything? It certainly isn’t offering anything other than more fear or paranoia. In the end it doesn’t matter who you believe or what you believe. We have to make up our minds and assume responsibility for our choices. When we can stop blaming every one else for our problems we will be much better off. However I don’t expect you to believe that. Just making a questionless point.

  31. #31 Chris
    November 10, 2007

    Well a newspaper said that this kid is actually Batman. Don’t believe me? Well, why should I believe you that he ISN’T???? Huh? Huh? That’s what I thought.

  32. #32 Joe
    November 10, 2007

    @Coin,

    Stephen Barrett (MD) runs http://www.quackwatch.org which is the single best database for sCAM on the Web. He recently sued someone for defamation of character and lost. I don’t know what happened; but the Alties are crowing about it, as though it invalidates his work to improve consumer healthcare by educating people about quackery.

    You should not be concerned when an Altie pads a post like that.

  33. #33 Robster, FCD
    November 10, 2007

    Berney, you are making the incredible claim, so you have to have incredible evidence.

  34. #34 Gray Falcon
    November 10, 2007

    Side note: The reason they mentioned Stephen Barrett is because of a belief that they are being oppressed by a single authority. It makes things much simpler if everyone’s all working for one guy. Unfortunately for them, the reality is that everyone’s independent. Some people find this truth comforting: Humans are individuals, individual power can influence everyone. Conspiracy buffs, on the other hand, consider the idea horrifying: It means nobody’s really in charge!

  35. #35 Berney Lincoln
    November 10, 2007

    What claim am I making? All I am saying is that they do exist as do I. I am saying that there was a melanoma on the left rear of his scalp and that they were here at the center for assistance. There were many people here that saw and interacted with them. I am not claiming anything more than that. I have stated that I don’t have first hand knowledge of the legal issues that were presented in the first article of this blog only that having met them and spending time with them that I didn’t feel that they would make up such a wild story. I could be wrong and if it turns up I am I will say so. So I am not sure what is so difficult to accept here as far as I go. The only thing I was attempting to do was to at least show that these people do exist and that the medical condition that was claimed existed as well. Hope that helps.

  36. #36 Orac
    November 10, 2007

    So what if they “exist”? Assuming that they do, that doesn’t mean the story as being circulated is true or even close. In fact, the evidence there is strongly suggests that many elements of the story as being circulated by Health Freedom USA and the Angry Scientist are a load of crap, full of internal inconsistencies and unbelievable claims. You’ve provided nothing to lead me to believe that the story, even if they exist, hasn’t been exaggerated and tarted up beyond recognition.

  37. #37 Berney Lincoln
    November 11, 2007

    Oh well, I’m sorry I couldn’t do more for you. Hope you fins what you are looking for somewhere else. This obviously won’t go anywhere. Have a great day. Peace.

  38. #38 katrina
    November 11, 2007

    let’s say this is true. What did the initial biopsy say? Was it a deep lesion?? If so, the courts are acting responsibly. Since the mom and apparently this Berny guy used the black salve, the kid would require even wider margins in surgery and the ability to find the sentinal node is compromised. Staging would be inaccurate until or if he progresses to stage iv and it appears on a scan, xray, mri, etc. Doctors do not say melanoma is cured. Until the kid has lived a long long time we can’t believe a claim of cure. Biopsy of the area could be too far from the original as it is now a mess of scar tissue. My husband was diagnosed at stage iv with melanoma. At the time his blood work was normal too. It is meaningless to use this as proof of cure. Even people who had stage i removed 25 years ago can reccurr snd progress. This boy needs real treatment if this is true. I don’t belive it is, but portions may be. The mother and Berny are guilty of neglecting, mutilating, and truly endangering the kid’s life. This is not the same disease that the Cherrix kid has. Melanoma is nothing to mess with. Sorry, but if true, the courts were correct. Why the hell didn’t the woman get another opinion. There is also no talk of other diagnostic tests. Even a chest xray. Why? It’s strange especially since there is talk of chemo, which as orac said, would not be indicated.

  39. #39 Berney Lincoln
    November 11, 2007

    I am not sure how the leap was made that I had anything to do with the use of the so called “black salve” or that it was this salve that got rid of the melanoma but it is incorrect. I did not apply it nor did I even know of it until it was applied, which by the way had nothing to do with me or the center, I did not come on this blog to get into a debate over anything or to promote one way of helping over another. Our center actually supports the use of the medical world as well as the alternative and we work responsibly and with integrity. I can see why you may make the leap that we are something less however please at least check us out before you do. The problem with this whole blog is that there is so much said that is opinion and that has not been checked. Each person on this site has done that it appears. I only came on to let people that were asking the question as to whether or not the Jessops were real people and if so was there a melanoma. I explained that they were and that I personally saw it. That is all I said except to tell you that I have NO first hand knowledge of the legal battles that ensued, if they did. I made that point clear as well, or so I thought. Anyway I would appreciate that you not put me into this any further than what I have just stated. The pro and con of one treatment over another is for you to work out. I fully support what ever choice you make for your life and I always wish the best for all. You will never find a person in our center that would tell you that one way is better than another. This can only be determined by the person in need. What we do offer is a holistic approach so that all possibilities can be considered. Many times it is as simple as bringing balance to the systems of the body to over come some major issue. Other times it requires much more. What ever it is that is required we give each person the attention that they deserve and the skills we have on hand. If that is not enough we will refer them to other professionals based upon their wish as to direction they prefer to move in. If they are seeking further medical help we know plenty of people in the medical world and if they prefer a more alternative approach we can give them suggestions in that direction as well. The bottom line is we honor the choice of the people that come to us and we do not attempt to make choices for them. We can only give our best advice which is what any health practitioner does. Doctors give their best advice based upon what they know and have experience with as do alternative therapists, which includes acupuncturists, chiropractors, massage therapist and so forth. This is why we are referred to as a holistic center, we think holistically which sometimes mean we think outside the box. Even medicine and science does this or they would never have made the advances they have. I hope this clears this up.

  40. #40 Berney Lincoln
    November 13, 2007

    I was just wondering if Orac read the latest post by Lee Woodward? Interesting. I wonder if you would be so kind as to put it in this blog.
    Peace

  41. #41 katrina
    November 16, 2007

    ok. Sorry berny. You did not mutilate the boy and likely did little or no harm. What did you see that led you to conclude it was melanoma? What did it look like? How big? Did it bleed? Path report?

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