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 cancer. Among the “natural healing” modalities touted by the Wellness Warrior included that quackery of quackeries, the Gerson protocol, complete with coffee enemas and everything. She even did videos explaining how to administer coffee enemas and posted them on YouTube, although that video is now private. In fact, most of her videos appear to have disappeared from her YouTube channel as private, and there is nothing but a notice on her website announcing this:

Banner announcing Jess Ainscough's death

Sadly, yesterday Jess Ainscough passed away. There’s no information on what took her life, but it’s hard not to assume that it was her cancer. Given this development, Ainscough’s words from two months ago make more sense:

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’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.

At the time, I noted that Ainscough’s health had clearly taken a turn for the worse and couldn’t help but wonder whether she was doing even worse than she was letting on. Indeed, at the time, her admission seemed rather amazing, given how jealously she had guarded any hint that she wasn’t doing very well and how careful she was to hide her arm in publicity photos. Of course, this being the age of smartphone cameras, where almost everyone has a camera on herself at nearly all times, she couldn’t always succeed, and photos of her showing how bad her arm was did appear. I also speculated at the time that maybe Ainscough had finally decided to return to “conventional” treatment, possibly even an amputation. In retrospect, I now have to wonder whether when Ainscough posted this she knew that she was dying and that nothing more could be done. For example:

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.

This was so sad then. It’s even sadder now.

I first encountered the Wellness Warrior a year and a half ago when her mother, Sharyn Ainscough, died tragically of breast cancer. Her mother, it turns out, had treated her breast cancer with the same sorts of useless treatments as her daughter treated her sarcoma. Now, I can understand why Jess would choose woo. She was unfortunate enough to develop a cancer that was, paradoxically, both very nasty and very indolent. (After all, she survived seven years with it.) Moreover, because her tumor involved her shoulder, the first line treatment recommended consisted of a very disfiguring amputation that sounded like a forequarter amputation. It’s an amputation that involves removing not just the arm, but removing the entire shoulder joint and the shoulder blade. It would have left her not just without an arm, but without a shoulder as well. It’s a seldom-performed operation these days (indeed, I’ve never done one or even seen one performed in my entire career stretching back to my residency beginning in the late 1980s), and with good reason. Still, sometimes it is necessary. It’s hard not to feel for Ainscough, who, at age 22 was facing such an awful choice.

In my original account I noted that Ainscough actually reported herself to have steeled herself up to undergo the surgery, but apparently her doctors came to her at the last minute with an alternative, which was to do isolated limb perfusion. Basically, this is a technique sometimes used for soft tissue sarcomas of the extremity or multifocal melanoma that can’t be resected without amputation to try to destroy the tumor. As its name implies, isolated limb perfusion involves isolating the limb from the body’s circulation and infusing it with very (and I do mean very) high doses of chemotherapy. That’s what necessitates the isolation of the limb’s circulation; the dose of chemotherapy is so high that if it leaked back into the rest of the circulation the consequences could be disastrous. Isolated limb perfusion can often cause seemingly near miraculous results, and apparently that was the case for Ainscough. Unfortunately, tumors tend to recur, and that’s exactly what happened to Ainscough about a year later, which led to the doctors recommending an amputation of her arm at the shoulder again.

It was at that point that Ainscough rejected that option and was reborn as the Wellness Warrior. Over the years, she became quite the media figure in Australia, based on her many advantages for a media career. She was young. She was telegenic. She was very likable and soon became very media-savvy. Over seven years, she built up an impressive empire of “natural healing” modalities, enabled, of course, by credulous reporting. She wrote books. She appeared on television. She sold cookbooks, cooking supplies, and various other implements necessary for a “natural” lifestyle. She promoted, as I said, that cancer quackeries of cancer quackeries, the Gerson therapy. Indeed, she even listed the various supplements she took as part of the Gerson therapy (and in addition to the at least daily coffee enemas), which she described thusly:

Some of you might think the list is a bit extreme, but I assure you that it is totally manageable. It’s nowhere near as much of a pain in the ass to get through as the medicine cabinet full of pills and potions I was taking prior to Gerson. I swear, as soon as we heard that a supplement had anti-cancer properties, I was all over it. I’ve taken everything from sea cucumbers to bovine cartilage. This list is like a trip to the beach in comparison.

The supplements a Gerson patient must take generally varies to suit the individual. But all the medications are designed to support the diet therapy by increasing the energy capacity of the cell and by increasing the rate of detoxification.

She also advocated eating clay to “detoxify” herself:

When we eat clay, the positively charged toxins are attracted by the negatively charged edges of the clay mineral. An exchange reaction occurs where the clay swaps its ions for those of the other substance. Electrically satisfied, it holds the toxin in suspension until the body can eliminate both.

You get the idea. Jess Ainscough was a seemingly unending fountain of woo, making Food Babe-like appeals to the “natural” over the “synthetic” and promoting her version of “wellness.” Meanwhile, over the last year or two, her condition was clearly deteriorating.

So what happened? As I explained before, epithelioid sarcoma is a rare sarcoma, with an incidence on the order of 0.1 to 0.4 per million. It’s primarily a tumor of young adults, and it nearly always appears on the upper extremities, and wide surgical excision is the only known effective treatment. It also tends to be indolent as well. 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%. Sadly, Jess Ainscough’s survival of seven years with her disease in essence untreated is thus within the expected range of survival time based on her disease that I discussed the last time I discussed her.

I have no idea what finally took her life. Overall, it must have been the cancer, of course. Given her description of frequent bleeding from her tumor mass to the point where she was anemic suggested to me that the tumor was fungating, eating through the skin. At the time, she said her scans indicated that the cancer hadn’t spread beyond the arm, but that didn’t mean it still couldn’t kill her. I’d suspect a combination of unrelenting chronic blood loss and perhaps necrotic tumor becoming infected and leading to sepsis. If such sepsis were not recognized and treated promptly it could certainly have killed her in her weakened state. But this is just speculation, an educated guess. I have no idea what the immediate cause of Jess Ainscough’s death was. Whatever her immediate cause of death was, though, it was almost certainly the cancer that killed her.

Cancer deaths like this always sadden me. Jess Ainscough had a shot, one shot. She didn’t take it. What saddens me even more is that I can understand why she didn’t take it, as, through a horrible quirk of fate, her one shot involved incredibly disfiguring surgery and the loss of her arm. Still, I wish she had taken it and hadn’t instead decided to become an icon of “natural healing.” (If she had, there’s about a 70% chance she’d still be alive today.) In her role as the Wellness Warrior, and in her promotion of Gerson quackery, Ainscough, with the noblest of motivations in the beginning, did harm and likely led some cancer patients down the path of quackery and preventable death. In this, Jess and Sharyn Ainscough were also just as much victims as any other cancer patient who chooses alternative medicine quackery. Unfortunately, she also promoted that same quackery, which made them complicit as well. Being simultaneously a victim and an enabler or promoter is frequently the case with believers in alt-med cancer “cures.”

All the more sad.

As outraged as we might have been over Ainscough’s promotion of the Gerson protocol in life, as we mourn, we should also remember that Jess Ainscough was also a victim of the very pseudoscience that she promoted. Now that she is gone, what I want to know is this: Who are the quacks who enabled her and egged her on? Who are the quacks who conned her into believing that Gerson therapy would save her life? Who are the quacks whose influence led her to become the Wellness Warrior in the first place? They helped create the Wellness Warrior, and Jess Ainscough has finally paid the price.

Comments

  1. #1 DW
    March 6, 2015

    Narad #1004

    Yes, I guess I got my metaphors rather mixed up! I was just trying to think of a metaphor for something “post space-age” and the “multiverse” came to mind. A garbled analogy I agree.

  2. #2 DW
    March 6, 2015

    Hey Sonia. I want my choices to be mine too. I just want accurate information on which to base the choice. That can’t happen when people are putting forth false information, as Jess Ainscough was unfortunately doing.

  3. #3 Narad
    March 6, 2015

    But the one thing I came to terms with is that there is more to an illness than the physical. As there is more to a treatment.

    Not to Gerson’s quackery, no.

    Assuming one treatment or a component of a treatment is bogus because you don’t understand or agree with it quite frankly is short sighted.

    There’s nothing being “assumed”; it’s 60-year-old nonsense that has only gotten weirder in Charlotte Gerson’s claws. Nothing singularly cures a giant raft of cancers, including trying to eat your way to hyponatremia while shooting coffee up your ass five times a day.

  4. #4 ann
    March 6, 2015

    @sonia –

    I not only want my choices to be mine, I want the choices of others to be theirs, whatever they might be.

    And that’s not two separate desires. It’s one.

    But she made the choice she did because other people made it out to be a better one than it is. And it cost her her mother and her life that they did.

    That’s a very high price to pay.

    Chemo can be hideous. But at least it’s honest.

  5. #5 A
    March 7, 2015

    #979 @FamilyFriend

    Thank you for sharing. I can’t believe how saddened I am (and so many others) by Jess passing. May she rest in peace and may her true legacy live on.

  6. […] Epithelioid sarcoma (۲): Isolated limb perfusion (۳): در این کامنت شخص‌ای ادعا می‌کند که از دوستان خانوادگی جسیکا است. […]

  7. #7 ضدخاطرات
    March 7, 2015

    […] Epithelioid sarcoma (۲): Isolated limb perfusion (۳): در این کامنت شخص‌ای ادعا می‌کند که از دوستان خانوادگی جسیکا است. […]

  8. #8 Panacea
    March 7, 2015

    @ sonia #1006: I am also a registered nurse. I got my start on a med surg oncology floor, and worked for 7 years as a hospice nurse. I am very familiar with what chemo, radiation, and surgery does to people. And yes, it can be pretty horrible. But here’s the thing.

    In the 30 years that I’ve been a nurse, I’ve seen survival rates improve for many kinds of cancers. People get screened earlier. Cancers get caught earlier, when they’re easier to treat. Even some tough to treat cancers are responding better than they used to. And granted, some still don’t respond well at all, like pancreatic cancer.

    But at least with SBM you get a good appraisal of your chances and the risks vs benefits. You don’t get that with quack therapies like Gerson. And if you really are a nurse, you should know that informed consent is impossible if the patient isn’t given accurate information. So when I hear people blather on about choice, the question I have to ask is WHAT choices? There is no choice: you choose SBM or you choose to let nature take its course, or you choose to ignore science and do unproven therapies that have their own risks and side effects.

    Let me ask you sonia, since you claim to be an RN: What are the risks associated with sequential tap water enemas? What kind of risks do you think you add to the picture when you give sequential coffee enemas? If you think the answer is “none to speak of,” turn in your license. You have no business practicing nursing.

  9. #9 ben
    March 7, 2015

    Hey everybody!!! Have you read *this* woman’s story? The parallels to Jessica’s cancer journey are very similar. Both lived 7 years after the terminal diagnosis. Please read her story of endless suffering and pain…she spoke frankly about it, for seven years. It does not sound like going conventional was so much better than what Jessica chose to do. http://time.com/3736283/lisa-bonchek-adams-died/

  10. #10 Marry Me, Mindy
    March 7, 2015

    Jess died in the appropriate timeframe for the kind of Cancer she had (if it was left untreated).

    Gerson did nothing for her.

    Yeah, here’s a way to think of it: What would have been the conclusion if this happened with an appropriate medical treatment? What would have the doctors concluded?

    In her case, it’s pretty clear. They would have said, “Despite our best efforts, we couldn’t do anything to slow down the disease.”

    As you say, the progress of her disease was perfectly consistent with having no treatment at all.

  11. #11 Candace
    Boston
    March 7, 2015

    Hmmmmm……sounds the same to me….

    http://time.com/3736283/lisa-bonchek-adams-died/

  12. #12 Orac
    March 7, 2015

    No, it’s very different. Lisa Bonchek Adams chose therapy with scientific evidence of efficacy. Unfortunately, it didn’t work. That’s the difference between quacks like Charlotte Gerson and real oncologists. Oncologists have science, statistics, and data. We know what the chances of success are for a treatment for a given cancer at a given stage, and we don’t promise outrageously good results that we can’t deliver. In contrast, Jess Ainscough chose quackery that had zero chance of helping her but did force her to spend two years as a slave to her juicer and her coffee enema kit. Worse, she promoted that quackery to her followers. On another blog, I posted examples of her exulting over Gerson therapy and demonstrating how to prepare coffee enemas with the skill of a born saleswoman.

    No, there’s a big difference. If it “sounds the same” to you, that just shows how little you know.

  13. #13 Candace
    March 7, 2015

    Wow….do you really understand what you are saying?
    The “scientific method” didn’t work BECAUSE IT DOESN’T WORK!!! This is *your* site and your forum. Keep defending oncology. It doesn’t work…..OFTEN! People die from the chemo (which is mustard gas….pure poison!).
    And it proves, too, how little *you* know.

  14. #14 Old Rockin' Dave
    Earth - Candace, come visit, you might like it.
    March 7, 2015

    Candace: Wow, what a symphony of ignorance you played in so few words (1947 called – it wants its knowledge of oncology back.).
    “The “scientific method” didn’t work BECAUSE IT DOESN’T WORK!!!” You absolutely don’t know what you’re talking about. Tell all the men who have been cured of testicular cancer that chemotherapy doesn’t work (True, it only works about 97% of the time, but that’s better than a lot of things, including your beloved buttload of coffee or whichever made-up nonsense you believe in this week.). I guess the millions of people cured of breast cancer, lymphomas, bladder cancer, even some lung cancers, didn’t know it didn’t work, are really dead, and are just too stupid to lie down. I have worked in oncology and I have seen cures where there hadn’t been cures before, prolonged life that couldn’t be obtained before, palliation that was once impossible made possible.
    And no, no one gets treated with “mustard gas”. Some people do get L-phenylalanine mustard, which is a related compound but is not mustard gas, but even by the Eighties its use was becoming pretty rare. The most common chemotherapy drugs are not “mustard gas”, but things like antibiotics, antimetabolites, and guess what? derivatives of plants, like Taxol and vincristine. Those two originally came from the bark of the Pacific yew tree and the Madagascar periwinkle respectively.
    Let me phrase this another way. You are either an ignoramus or a crank, or quite possibly both. You are a living example of the maxim, “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and prove it.”

  15. #15 Travis
    March 7, 2015

    Candace, I am afraid it is you who does not understand what you are saying. I don’t even think you have a clear understanding of what Orac said, otherwise you would not have made that muddled, confused comment.

    You also might want to consider checking out the bio of the blog owner before lecturing them about oncology. People who know about this topic can see how shallow your knowledge is, and that you are just repeating what others have told you about chemotherapy, without having any real knowledge of it.

  16. #16 Travis
    March 7, 2015

    And no, no one gets treated with “mustard gas”. Some people do get L-phenylalanine mustard, which is a related compound but is not mustard gas, but even by the Eighties its use was becoming pretty rare. The most common chemotherapy drugs are not “mustard gas”, but things like antibiotics, antimetabolites, and guess what? derivatives of plants, like Taxol and vincristine. Those two originally came from the bark of the Pacific yew tree and the Madagascar periwinkle respectively.

    What gets me is that this correction is unlikely to slow Candace down at all. They will simply move on to a new talking point. I am not surprised by it, of course, I’ve seen it happen so much, but it still seems so strange. To me, the reaction to being shown to be wrong on a very basic point, would be to step back and reevaluate whether I know as much about the topic as I think I do, but instead the reaction is almost always to double down.

  17. #17 Dangerous Bacon
    March 7, 2015

    Lisa Adams’ situation sounds far different to me than Jess Ainscough’s.

    Adams to my knowledge did not promote or make money from quackery. The memorial statement on her website notes the following:

    “Lisa was cared for to the end by her beloved Dr. Chau Dang of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Lisa specifically asked that anyone who wishes to honor her memory do so with a contribution to her fund for breast cancer research at MSKCC.”

    From what I’ve heard, no one from a Gerson clinic cared for Ainscough in her last days. Quacks are not generally known for their dedication to end-of-life care.

    Lisa Adams suggested that donations be made toward breast cancer research. It strikes me that supporting research into evidence-based sarcoma treatment/cure would be a fitting response to Ainscough’s death.

    Does anyone have knowledge of the Sarcoma Foundation of America’s work?

    http://www.curesarcoma.org

  18. #18 Chris
    Australia
    March 7, 2015

    #Orac
    #Candice
    #Travis

    I think that if you examine this from the psychological perspective, we know that psychological empowerment is a key factor in developing mental resilience and coping during this crisis. When people recieve the bad news that they have cancer, and a poor prognosis, then they feel hopeless because control is lost. It is entirely reasonable for them to seek to help themselves. This is probably why some people go down the non conventional medical route, because in the absence of the empirical evidence – statistics and facts and figures – one can maintain a sense of hope. The subconscious thinking of this patient is “I can regain a sense of hope and control by going down the alt med route, but I don’t get that from this evidence based diagnosis”.

    However, the thing we need to looking for is maladaptive responses to the diagnosis, which I believe that seeking after alt med may provide a channel for. There is nothing wrong with wanting to help yourself, and as I have stated before, alt-med can help to boost ones sense of hope. But, there is a point
    at which a line gets crossed where we alt med encourages an unhealthy denial of the factual reality and can backfire big time. This is evidenced in Jess’ s story, and I don’t think that I need to explain why when you read the account of Family Friend. It can lead to even worse feelings of regret and disillusionment. As Jess’ s last post alluded to “fuck my life”. If that is not disillusionment, and regret, then I don’t know what is.

    I think that one of the reasons that people go down this path is because they think that an adverse prognosis is ‘all bad’. Well, whilst we must absolutely feel a measure of psychological empowerment, the statistics can actually help us in our journey because as Viktor Frankyl, the great psychiatrist said, we can find meaning in our life from suffering, and the meaning we give can be empowering. If you interested in reading more, see his book ‘Man’s search for meaning’.

    The stats can also help empower us too, because we get to mentally prepare ourselves for what is ahead. Why is this a good thing? Because it is essential to empowerment, in that we can put our affairs in order, and make the most of the time we have left. How powerful is it for someone to cherish the moments they have left? As Orac has pointed out, not wasteing our time on meaningless and time consuming therapies, that are unlikely to do anything to actually help us, even if they do provide a brief time of psychological empowerment (see Sprietzer, 1995).

    If we are lucky enough to fall outside of the prognosis statistics, and recover, the you can consider that you have been ‘shot in the arse with a rainbow’ and have lost nothing. But, if you gamble your remaining time on an outside chance (as in alt med) and invest it in fruitless efforts and die as the stas said you would, then what have you lost? EVERYTHING!.

    1.You have lost your resilience and empowerment;
    2. You haven’t mentally prepared yourself and put your affairs in order;
    3. You have lost the opportunity to make the most of your time left and haven’t found meaning in your suffering.
    4. You die unprepared and with regret

    This seems to be the experience of Jess. She didnt die peacefully based on what family friend #979 has said.
    I find her story very sad.

    So, I really think that the cost of ignoring the empirical evidence and gambling on altmed as your only source of treatment is too high (which is most likely a maladaptive coping response). I would like to here the proponents of the ‘alt med or nothing’ paradigm respond to my post, because none have responded to to my analysis in previous posts. I am interested in your response to my psychological explanation of why people reject convention for alt med.

  19. #19 Old Rockin' Dave
    Gauda Prime
    March 7, 2015

    Travis:
    “What gets me is that this correction is unlikely to slow Candace down at all. They will simply move on to a new talking point.”
    Of course it won’t. But sometimes you have to try. Still, I couldn’t stop myself from taking a few shots at the sad breakup of her relationship with reality.
    (Travis, is that handle a Blake’s 7 reference to go along with Orac?)

  20. #20 Travis
    March 8, 2015

    Try, definitely try. I have no problem with that, it does work sometime, I’ve seen plenty of people change their viewpoints over time, though that was a definitely a small minority of people.

    Nope, just my real first name. I’ve never actually seen Blake 7, know little about it, and did not know I shared a name with one of the characters. Apparently he is “infamous for his brutality and ruthlessness”. Not sure that really fits me, though I often use the nickname MrProsser online, and Mr. L. Prosser is a direct male-line descendant of Genghis Khan, who was also known for being a tad bit violent at times.

  21. #21 ann
    March 8, 2015

    Wow….do you really understand what you are saying?
    The “scientific method” didn’t work BECAUSE IT DOESN’T WORK!!!

    Ahem.

    There are 14.5 million cancer survivors in the United States who probably disagree with you about that.

    Two-and-a-half million of them or so had breast cancer, like the woman whose death you seem to think is a win for you, genius and saint that you are.

    This is *your* site and your forum.

    I think he probably knew that already.

    Keep defending oncology. It doesn’t work…..OFTEN!

    Care to get more specific? How often?

    People die from the chemo (which is mustard gas….pure poison!).

    FFS.

    Don’t believe everything you read, Candace. People who see a way to profit from your fear and anger try to stir them up sometimes.

  22. #22 janerella
    Oz
    March 8, 2015

    People who see a way to profit from your fear and anger and scientific illiteracy try to stir them up sometimes.
    FTFY.

  23. #23 janerella
    Oz
    March 8, 2015

    People who see a way to profit from your fear and anger and scientific illiteracy try to stir them up sometimes.
    FTFY.

  24. #24 ann
    March 8, 2015

    Hey everybody!!! Have you read *this* woman’s story? The parallels to Jessica’s cancer journey are very similar. Both lived 7 years after the terminal diagnosis. Please read her story of endless suffering and pain…she spoke frankly about it, for seven years. It does not sound like going conventional was so much better than what Jessica chose to do.

    Hey Ben!

    But she had metastatic breast cancer, like Sharyn Ainscough, who was not around to speak frankly about it for seven years, because she died in two-and-a-half.

    The median survival time for untreated breast cancer is 2.7 years. Incidentally.

    Anyway. There’s a straight-up, one-for-one Gerson’s/conventional comparison for you.

  25. #25 Hilda
    March 8, 2015

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1349105/Told-terminal-cancer-little-weeks-live-miracle-survivors-club-proved-doctors-wrong.html

    “After my operation I begged my ­family to take me home, certain that if I stayed in hospital, I would die.”
    “In realising those three ambitions, I saw the importance of setting new goals to keep myself going. It’s something I’ve done ever since, with the help of ­conventional medicine and alternative therapies such as reflexology and meditation.”

    “In China the breast cancer rate was one in 100,000 compared to one in ten here. Further research convinced me that it had to be diet-related, and so I adopted the kind of diet predominant in China — low in animal protein, with no dairy produce but lots of fruit, ­vegetables, nuts and pulses. Six weeks later my tumour had gone — my oncologist told me it had simply responded to chemotherapy and that it would return when my treatment finished. It was a blow to hear that, but I stayed on the DIET and lived the best life I could. It was a very precarious existence, endlessly checking for lumps and forever wondering how much time I had left. But I was lucky — the tumour didn’t come back.”
    (**** what a kind, supportive oncologist!)

    GREAT TO SEE PATIENTS TAKING CHARGE & DOING THEIR OWN RESEARCH!
    So….it appears that people who also incorporate alternative modalities and meditate and care about what they eat, do in fact, prolong their years of survival.

    So I say, “Cheers to Jessica Ainscough!!”

  26. #26 Dangerous Bacon
    March 8, 2015

    Hilda quoting the Daily Mail (an unimpeachable source of info on cancer prevention and treatment (sarcasm intended)):

    “In China the breast cancer rate was one in 100,000 compared to one in ten here. Further research convinced me that it had to be diet-related, and so I adopted the kind of diet predominant in China — low in animal protein, with no dairy produce but lots of fruit, ­vegetables, nuts and pulses.”

    Dang if I know what “pulses” refers to – but those stats are way, way off.

    “Breast cancer remains the most common cancer for females in both China and the USA, with (age-standardized rates) of 21.6 and 76.0 per 100,000, respectively. In a comparative study between Tianjin and New York, the cancer pattern in Chinese immigrants was found to differ in the immigrated city [8], indicating that cancer risks could vary when the environment changes. Unprecedented declines were observed in invasive breast cancer rates in the USA between 2001 and 2004, with Hausauer et al. [9] reporting that incidence fell by 13.2% and that greater reductions were observed in women living in urban areas (-13.8%) than in rural areas (-7.5%). These patterns reflect the major influence of hormone therapy use and screening patterns in cancer reduction.”

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3643656/

    If that “predominant” diet in China is the answer, then why are Chinese incidence rates for liver and upper gastrointestinal cancers so much higher than in the U.S. (10 times or more greater)?
    Could it be that multiple factors, including genetics and lifestyle parameters are involved?

    I also call bullshit on the oncologist telling the patient that her tumor would return when the chemotherapy was done.

  27. #27 Dangerous Bacon
    March 8, 2015

    Hilda quoting the Daily Mail (an unimpeachable source of info on cancer prevention and treatment (sarcasm intended)):

    “In China the breast cancer rate was one in 100,000 compared to one in ten here. Further research convinced me that it had to be diet-related, and so I adopted the kind of diet predominant in China — low in animal protein, with no dairy produce but lots of fruit, ­vegetables, nuts and pulses.”

    Dang if I know what “pulses” refers to – but those stats are way, way off.

    “Breast cancer remains the most common cancer for females in both China and the USA, with (age-standardized rates) of 21.6 and 76.0 per 100,000, respectively. In a comparative study between Tianjin and New York, the cancer pattern in Chinese immigrants was found to differ in the immigrated city [8], indicating that cancer risks could vary when the environment changes. Unprecedented declines were observed in invasive breast cancer rates in the USA between 2001 and 2004, with Hausauer et al. [9] reporting that incidence fell by 13.2% and that greater reductions were observed in women living in urban areas (-13.8%) than in rural areas (-7.5%). These patterns reflect the major influence of hormone therapy use and screening patterns in cancer reduction.”

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3643656/

    If that “predominant” diet in China is the answer, then why are Chinese incidence rates for liver and upper gastrointestinal cancers so much higher than in the U.S. (10 times or more greater)?
    Could it be that multiple factors, including genetics and lifestyle parameters are involved?

    I also am highly dubious about an oncologist allegedly telling the patient that her tumor would return when the chemotherapy was done.

  28. #28 Chris
    Australia
    March 8, 2015

    Hilda,

    “So….it appears…”

    With respect Hilda, you answer actually supports the scientific case – not sure if you realise that! . This is anecdotal, not empirical evidence. And, whilst this is an encouraging story, you are confusing correlation with cause. For example, if we apply your logic:

    If your hypothesis is true, then how do you explain whyJess Ainscough died given that she altered her treatment radically and also had conventional treatment?

    Science can explain that, but can you?

    If you want to understand how the scientific process works and what is required to establish cause, then read my post #970. It will help you understand.

    Regards Chris.

  29. #29 Denice Walter
    March 8, 2015

    @ Dangerous Bacon:

    ” An unimpeachable source of info….”
    Heh.

    At any rate, ‘pulses’ are vegetables like lentils, daal etc.

  30. #30 Narad
    March 8, 2015

    Dang if I know what “pulses” refers to

    Legumes.

  31. #31 Chris
    Not in Australia
    March 8, 2015

    Candace: “The “scientific method” didn’t work BECAUSE IT DOESN’T WORK!!!”

    Then by what magic are you typing on a keyboard words that are read by folks all over this planet? Do you live in a home that magically grew out of the earth itself, and provides you clean water out of faucets by pure magic? Are the lights that illuminate the interior of that home produced by tiny fairies? Is the reason that fluids you buy like vinegar, wine, beer, and milk do not spoil while sealed also magic? Do snow nymphs keep food cold in a special cabinet in the food prep part of your home?

    I am amused by those who proclaim that the scientific method does not work do it from a computer keyboard, powered by electricity, accessing an international communication network in a house with running water, that contains appliances that keep food… some of which has been treated by techniques developed over a century ago to prevent spoilage Pasteur).

  32. #32 Vicki
    March 8, 2015

    Or the breast cancer rate in China is 40 per 100,000, or 50 per 100,000.

    Beyond that, I wouldn’t trust the Daily Fail to tell me that the earth rotates on its axis, let alone anything that wasn’t confirmed from reliable sources.

  33. #33 herr doktor bimler
    March 8, 2015

    An entertaining insider’s report of the culture of mendacity and plagiarism within the Daily Fail:
    http://tktk.gawker.com/my-year-ripping-off-the-web-with-the-daily-mail-online-1689453286

  34. #34 Old Rockin' Dave
    They seek him here, they seek him there...
    March 8, 2015

    There are some more points the people who have swallowed the (organic, non-GMO) kool-aid ought to know.
    1) Cancers don’t pop up overnight. Often, by the time a cancer goes from one cell to millions and becomes detectable, it may have been growing for twenty to thirty years. The time to change your diet is therefore thirty-five or forty years ago. Yes, young people do get cancers, and those tend to be more aggressive, rapidly growing ones. When a cancer is growing so fast, that diet change isn’t going to do much good. Those rapidly dividing cells are going to suck up a disproportionate amount of nutrients, whether they come from organic kale or Cheez Puffs. They don’t really “care” what you eat; going to grab what they need.
    2) Cancer cells don’t sit there passively waiting for you to eat free range Tibetan yak yogurt or whatever. They are not only dividing wildly out of control, they are making mistakes in copying themselves over, creating competing strains in the tumor – pure Darwinian evolution. The less aggressive, less invasive, less divergent, less “greedy” cells tend to fall by the wayside. Whatever you eat, this competition means that in some cancers, any treatment, be it chemotherapy or Maxwell House squirted up your ass, is likely to leave behind cells that are more resistant, meaning the cancer may come back (which is where combination chemotherapy and combined modality therapy come in.).
    3) Obviously, science doesn’t have all the answers – as Dara O’Briain says, “Otherwise it would stop.” What happens is that someone has a scientific insight that then has to be translated into a course of testing and modified until it’s clear that it doesn’t work or that it has a useful role somewhere. We still don’t have all the tools we need to predict what will happen in every given case, but medicine is still making steady progress, getting better results for more patients over time. None of the so-called alternative treatments ever generates enough scientifically evaluable results to know what if anything it is doing, and never changes because the people peddling it are so invested in their pet theory that they are afraid of anything that suggests their brainchild is less than perfect.

  35. #35 Chris
    Australia
    March 8, 2015

    Well said Old Rocker!

  36. #36 Hilda
    March 8, 2015

    Dear Dangerous Bacon,
    I merely included the link to a story of 4 women who were featured in an article about surviving cancer after a terminal diagnosis of just a few weeks or months.

    I only put in quotes what *they* said they did that helped them. I am not seeking “statistics” or “data.” Simply wanted to show that they used both conventional AND alternative modalities PLUS diet to get healthy.
    If you have any issues with any of that, contact each of them directly and ask your stupid questions.

    FACT: They got better using both scientific & alternative methods. Period!

  37. #37 herr doktor bimler
    March 8, 2015

    I merely included the link to a story of 4 women who were featured in an article about surviving cancer after a terminal diagnosis of just a few weeks or months.

    Well, no, you linked to a article full of transparent fabrications, from a source noted for its tradition of fraudulence. No doubt you thought you were accomplishing something by doing so.

  38. #38 ann
    March 8, 2015

    FACT: They got better using both scientific & alternative methods. Period!

    No.

    One of them altered her diet, based on a mistaken impression she got about breast cancer rates in China while doing HER OWN RESEARCH.

    The other three got regular old medical treatment.

  39. #39 Elroy Ives
    USA
    March 8, 2015

    Jess was a fraud and died. Therefore Gerson was a quack and his therapy has no value. Sounds about as scientific as you can get to me. Bravo!

  40. #40 Interrobang
    March 8, 2015

    “Doing your own research” is, mostly, overrated. Do you really believe you can tell a good source from a bad source? (Apparently, since you want to quote the Daily Fail at us, you don’t have the faintest idea of how to tell a good source from a hole in the ground.)

    If you don’t have formal training in how to do research, and how to evaluate sources, and how to evaluate sources in the particular field in which you are researching, you won’t have much beyond the faintest idea of whether the sources you’re getting are worth the electrons they’re printed on. Me, I have a Master’s degree in a humanities discipline. I know how to evaluate sources in literature, rhetoric, history, and some other related fields. I only have some vague idea of how to evaluate, say, medical information, because I’ve been hanging out on blogs like this one for literally a decade or so, and I’ve paid attention to what Orac (an MDPhD oncologist) and various scientist- and medical-type folks here and elsewhere have said about how to evaluate medical sources (if it comes from a magazine, or from Medical Hypotheses, for instance, it’s probably bullshit), but I’d never presume to be better at it than someone who’s, say, actually been to medical school. And unlike half the illiterates posting here to defend the fraudsters and scam artists, I actually have an advanced degree!

    So maybe don’t “do your own research.” Consult your local friendly trained professional instead. You’ll be glad you did.

  41. #41 Chris
    Australia
    March 8, 2015

    #1042

    Hi Hilda,

    I can see where you are coming from, and if I had cancer, I would probably change my diet just to make myself feel better.

    But the only way you could know effect of diet is if you did a controlled study in which you had one group radically changing diet with chemo, and one group chemo only. I am not sure if any research has been done like that, but if you are looking for evidence to support your hypothesis, you could go scientific literature to find that.

    Unfortunately, anecdotal evidence doesn’t hold much weight around here because science is about empirical evidence. Again, I refer you to my post #970 about scientific methods if you are interested in learning more.

  42. #42 Chris
    Australia
    March 9, 2015

    Does anyone know of any forums where the ‘quacks’ hang out online?. I want to learn more about how they think and the arguments they use to defend their choices about cancer treatments.

    Cheers.

  43. #43 KayMarie
    March 9, 2015

    Lots of blogs and forums for the quackier side. At the risk of sending you down a deep rabbit hole check out naturalnews dot com and modernalternativemama dot com. I think both have facebook page you can follow as well.

  44. #44 Chris
    Australia
    March 9, 2015

    Thanks Kay. I will check those out, and take my rabbit trap with me.

  45. #45 ann
    March 9, 2015

    Jess was a fraud and died.

    That’s awfully harsh. Have a heart.

    Therefore Gerson was a quack and his therapy has no value. Sounds about as scientific as you can get to me. Bravo!

    And that’s awfully straw-man:

    Since the 1940s several attempts have been made to assess the efficacy of the Gerson therapy. In 1947 the NCI (National Cancer Institute) reviewed case studies of ten people from Gerson and found no evidence to support Gerson’s claims of the therapy being effective.9 The 50 cases presented in Gerson’s 1958 book10 were also reviewed by the NCI in 1959, however, it was concluded that the case histories were not presented in sufficient detail (for instance, verification of the tumour, previous treatment history) to be able to evaluate the clinical benefit of the therapy.11

    A preliminary study conducted in 1983 tracked down 21 patients over a five-year period and found all but one (who was not cancer free) had died at the end of the study period.12 However, due to not obtaining detailed medical records at the start of this study this research is not very substantive.

    ^^Gerson’s methods have been spectacularly failing to cure cancer for decades. That’s why he’s a quack and his therapy has no value.

    http://www.cam-cancer.org/CAM-Summaries/Dietary-approaches/Gerson-therapy/Does-it-work

  46. #46 Dangerous Bacon
    March 9, 2015

    “Does anyone know of any forums where the ‘quacks’ hang out online?”

    A major hangout spot is CureZone, with forums covering just about every kind of woo/quackery (including breatharianism). You can also buy/rent your own forum for pushing a particular brand of woo (while complaining about “pharma shills”). 😉

  47. #47 Chris
    Australia
    March 9, 2015

    Ta Bacon. Yeah, I have seen that forum before. I will check it out again.

  48. #48 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    March 9, 2015

    @Elroy Ives,

    It appears you have gotten the wrong end of the stick on this issue. As ann points out, Gerson is quackery not because Ms. Ainscough died but because it is unproven and implausible. Ms. Aincough’s unfortunate demise is not even a useful data point in this.

    The more correct view is that Gerson is quackery (for reasons seen above) and effectively like leaving cancer untreated. Ms. Ainscough’s death was likely given the normal progress of untreated cancers of this type.

  49. #49 Sammy C
    US
    March 10, 2015

    Wow, how uninteresting the condemnation of a young lady who chose to go a different route than the opinion of ORAC. So it seems the path she choose didn’t keep her alive for another 50-60 years. You, ORAC don’t know that she would have been of the 72% but you state that as a FACT. I have seen people die from your treatment of radiation and chemotherapy and I have seen people have their life extended another 5-10 years, albeit in very compromised health and painful that they turned into another person.

    I have also known of other people who have followed the true gerson therapy and were completely healed of their cancer and are still living pleasant and active lives. I find it curious that no objective study of the Gerson Therapy has ever been considered by conventional medicine, probably because they might not be able to handle the Truth.

    Even Gerson admits that there are certain cancers that don’t respond so favorably to their therapy, brain cancers, pancreatic and others. But since you Know it is quackery how could it possibly ever be effective for Anyone.

    The problem here is not acknowledging the value of diet, lifestyle, exercise, toxin exposure and many other factors.

    Do You realize that surgery can be performed with acupuncture as anesthesia but no western medical schools have been interested enough in this to promote it? New York Times columnist James Reston’s appendectomy in 1971 in China was performed during a visit to China in 1973 and all his pain suppression was treated by acupuncture.

    I am not surprised with your arrogance and all knowing knowledge that Ms. Ainscough made the wrong decision, after all you are a Dr. Do You know what the quality of her would have been if she chose Your Route?

    So as much as I would like to say F…. Y.. I will be more civilized and just say whenever there is arrogance and fear, there will be tyranny and oppression. I believe there is some value to be had from what is termed western medicine just as there is value to be had from non synthetic based medicines. Korea has a very interesting model where they have medical schools for both herbal and western approaches and one can choose where they want to go for treatment and it is all covered by their Medical Insurance. But I suspect you might have some bias against those perspectives also, huh?

    Medicine should serve the people not the other way around where the people serve the medical industry.

    Shame on you for being so arrogant.

    Not a Dr, (thank you) Sam

  50. #50 Chris
    Australia
    March 10, 2015

    “….I find it curious that no objective study of the Gerson Therapy has ever been considered by conventional medicine, probably because they might not be able to handle the Truth…”

    Sam. Don’t you think that if Gerson therapy works as you say, then that Gersons themselves would fund a study? Maybe it is them that are afraid of what the results would show?

    If they did do this and there was something statistically valid and reliable in terms of its efficacy, then we would have the evidence we need so that people can rely on it as a treatment.

    The objection we have is not to Gerson’s perse, but to the promotion of it as a cureall by people like Jess. Gerson’s is complicit in this because they have been silent, instead of correcting the message that is out there that it can cure you of cancer when there is only anecdotal evidence from accounts given by people such as yourself. Gerson is hardly being ethical don’t you think?

    The difference is that whilst at chemo and medical treatments may not be nice, there is at least some transparency for patients who know what their chances of recovery are. With Gerson’s what have you got? Diddly squat.

    I agree that people’s choices should be respected, but ORAC is not criticising that. He is criticising the propaganda machine that Jess was part of.

  51. #51 Helianthus
    March 10, 2015

    @ Sammy C

    The problem here is not acknowledging the value of diet, lifestyle, exercise, toxin exposure and many other factors.

    Those may have value for preventing cancer to happen.
    But once tumor cells are floating around your body, it’s a bit late to reduce “toxin exposure”. Cancer cells are not going to go away because you ask nicely.
    If anything, a good diet is exactly what they want you to do. A healthy host is a good source of nutrients for a parasite.

    I find it curious that no objective study of the Gerson Therapy has ever been considered by conventional medicine

    It has been done and found wanting, you brainwashed idiot. See upthread.

  52. #52 ann
    March 10, 2015

    Medicine should serve the people not the other way around where the people serve the medical industry.

    I’m not sure I follow. Serve the medical industry how?

  53. #53 Dangerous Bacon
    March 10, 2015

    Sammy: “Do You realize that surgery can be performed with acupuncture as anesthesia but no western medical schools have been interested enough in this to promote it? New York Times columnist James Reston’s appendectomy in 1971 in China was performed during a visit to China in 1973 and all his pain suppression was treated by acupuncture.”

    False.

    “What is the reality of Reston’s report and of “acupuncture anesthesia” in general? The front-page article, “Now, About My Operation in Peking,” appeared in the New York Times on July 26, 1971. Aside from the removal of Reston’s appendix, the account is quite different from what is commonly believed. There are only two passages pertaining to the anesthetic itself:

    …removed my appendix on July 17 after a normal injection of Xylocain and Benzocain, which anesthetized the middle of my body.

    …and then pumped the area anesthetic by needle into my back.

    Thus the anesthetic was a standard regional technique, most likely an “epidural.” There is only one passage that pertains to the treatment of Mr. Reston’s post-operative incisional pain:

    I was back in my room…by 11 [PM]. The doctors came by to reassure me…gave me an injection to relieve the pain…

    In other words, he got a standard injection of narcotic. This may have been repeated, but he didn’t report this.”

    The only acupuncture Reston got was later when he was having discomfort from bowel distension, and it is not clear that the resolution of that symptom was due to the acupuncture.

    http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/acupuncture-anesthesia-a-proclamation-of-chairman-mao-part-i/

  54. #54 Pickwick
    March 10, 2015

    Sammy C., you are wrong about a variety of things.

    Assuming Jess Ainscough had opted for the horrible surgery to treat the appalling disease that is cancer, she would have had a good chance to extend her life. That isn’t a guarantee, nor did Orac or anyone else say that it is.

    One of the many, stark differences between real medical practitioners and leechlike quacks like the Gersons is that real medicine is studied, its efficacy is quantified, its mechanisms of action are determined. And if a promising therapy doesn’t pan out, then real doctors stop recommending it.

    Gerson has probably been studied, but there’s no reason to study it. It has no prior plausibility–there’s no reason to think that stuffing your body with unpleasant things from both ends will cause anything but misery, additional medical problems, and the transfer of your money to a quack. IF there were strong evidence that it worked, then it would be studied–if the Gersons themselves believed that their “therapy” worked, they would have reason to study it themselves so that they could determine for whom it would work, chances of success, survival rate, complications, and all the other things that real medical professionals learn about the interventions they recommend.

    The fact that they don’t run *and publish* studies of the treatments they’re perfectly happy to sell for piles of cash… That would tell a more inquiring mind than yours that they probably don’t believe in what they sell, either. Not that it matters; Gerson is one of the relatively-more-appalling brands of quackery, and that much is obvious to anyone who either has a skeptical bone in their body, or doesn’t have their critical faculties temporarily disabled by terrible and terrifying disease, or both.

    And that is a big part of what Orac and all the regulars are objecting to: not that Ms. Ainscough made her own decision about how to deal with cancer, but that she was preyed upon by the profiteering quacks who live off the desperate, making the lives of sick people more miserable and, often, robbing them of real hope. She was taken in by their false promises and, in turn, relayed false information to other victims, although it sounds as though she regretted it at the end. It’s a sad story.

    As for your other misinformed statements, I haven’t any time, but the acupuncture “success story” you mention has been specifically debunked here and here:

    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2013/10/25/chairman-mao-inventor-of-traditional-chinese-medicine/

    http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/acupuncture-anesthesia-a-proclamation-of-chairman-mao-part-i/

  55. #55 KayMarie
    March 10, 2015

    Is anyone else bothered by Sammy C’s “true Gerson” comment.

    Seems to be invoking the treatment cannot fail the patient, the patient can only fail the treatment by not doing it right trope. After all she has noted where she deviated from the protocol.

    I find it particularly irksome when it looks like people may be saying that you (orac and other SBM people) are evil to blame her and saying she deserved death because she didn’t do it your way, but I (gerson believer) am right and justified to blame her and say she deserved death because she didn’t do it mine.

  56. #56 Laura
    Ithaca NY
    March 10, 2015

    I steeled myself to look at Orac’s link to the forequarter amputation, while not eating.
    The “after” photo didn’t look so bad to me. It looked a lot better than before the surgery.
    But, I’m used to looking weird … I wear a full facemask, because of severe allergies. People do stare, but I shame them out of it by saying “good morning”, as in, I’m a person and not a spectacle.

  57. #57 Helianthus
    March 10, 2015

    @ KayMarie

    Is anyone else bothered by Sammy C’s “true Gerson” comment.

    I was.

    In other news, Sean Connery is also not a True Scotsman.

  58. #58 shay
    March 10, 2015

    Shame on you for being so arrogant.

    Shame on you for demonstrating your utter inability to read for comprehension.

  59. #59 Calli Arcale
    http://fractalwonder.wordpress.com
    March 10, 2015

    Pickwick:

    Gerson has probably been studied, but there’s no reason to study it.

    A variation of it, called the Gonzales protocol, actually was studied, despite the low prior plausibility, in terminally ill patients with little to lose. The study was terminated prematurely because the patients on the Gonzales protocol were dying earlier than the controls — in other words, not only is there no evidence that Gerson’s works, there’s some pretty strong evidence it might be making things worse.

  60. #60 The Cosmic Teapot
    Land of pie floaters
    March 10, 2015

    Sorry for the late comment. [sarc]I’m the most respectful person I know that way.[/sarc]
    Great article and I think it treated Jess as a person with as much dignity and respect as she deserved. “The Wellness Warrior” is not Jess; it was/is a brand used to sell fairy dust and unicorn spoof and it’s not entirely clear to me if it was largely stage managed by people besides Jess who had their own agenda (*cough* money *cough*), or if Jess is responsible for what was done in the name of “Wellness Warrior”. In any case, it’s sad that a young woman has died, regardless of what preceded it. My condolences to her family, partner and friends.
    As a skeptic, atheist and secular humanist, my opinion on the topic of woo vs science is as foregone a conclusion as was the outcome for Jess. But instead of throwing my redundant hat into the ring on that subject, I wanted to comment on some things I noticed while reading the vitriol coming from Jess’ acolytes and woo proponents in general.
    So far, I’ve read less than half of the comments (to about #450) but I’m struck by the feeling of deja vu. When it comes to online discussions, my main topic is religion. I have no intention of hijacking this topic, so don’t panic, but I felt it relevant to opine on the similarities in attitude, tactics and ideology that are employed by both fundamentalist theists (regardless of the religion) and the AltMed community. As with any undesirable social construct, the key to the problem lies in better understanding the driving forces that underlie it. In this case, and most that involve monetary gain, the key driving force is people with money to spend (demand) rather than those who want to take their money (supply). For example, drug users drive the illegal drug industry, not drug dealers, contrary to popular opinion. You can jail all the dealers and it won’t matter if the demand for the product still exists.

  61. #61 Chris
    Australia
    March 11, 2015

    http://tinyurl.com/qff24tr

    Here is an interesting story about a “cancer survivor” and entrepreneur. Turns out she was bullshitting the whole time!

    …attractive young women, cancer story, not telling the whole truth…..see any similarities?

  62. #62 Amy
    Au
    March 11, 2015

    I must say I followed the holistic wellness approach to treating my alopecia almost universalis for nearly three years with varying dedication and success including remission and then spontaneous recurrence – I knew of Jess (may she rest bless her) through her blog – and hearing of her death (albeit a fortnight late) it has rattled me. I was once a diehard no gluten no grain not paleo but lots of green chick anti medication – now I’m just left questioning – how can some cure the I curable and others not? Suffering from ITS NOT JUST HAIRLOSS ITS AN AUTOIMMUNE DISEASE a chronic disease you try every option – I’ve had the topical creams and scalp injections and washed in nettle tea and drank herbal concoctions and considered not vaccinating my children (I did) and my house is relatively chemical free – as it stands I have some regrowth, and nothing but my attitude to it made my condition any better or worse. I wish there was a definitive answer for every condition – but there’s not. I think this article was respectful, and achieved it’s purpose in making me rethink my (self) treatment options for my condition. I’m not going to die from alopecia but just imagine for a moment being a bald woman who once had lustrous gorgeous hair that truly was a crowning glory, to suffering not just the hair loss, but all the inflammatory hallmarks of a bullshit auto-immune disorder….I just don’t know where to go now, if medicine doesn’t have an answer and nature doesn’t have the answer – what then? Is it in spirit and belief and the mind? Did Jess “accepting” her “fate” lead to her demise? Could anything have been done – bless her she was so committed to her cause, was her unwavering belief and not being open to “conventional” treatments her demise, or was it when she just decided she had had enough and opted to go yep it’s time I’m done with this bullshit? My head is all over the place. Her death certainly made me challenge my beliefs.
    I loved the article, that’s coming from a woo who still meditates and practises reiki because goddamnit if anything it feels nice it maybe next time someone offers a medicinal solution to my alopecia I might just give it a shot instead of shouting NO and preaching a million “natural” reasons why not. I guess what Jess has achieved in death is what she did didn’t work for HER and to listen to each of ourselves and what our body tell us rather than subscribing to anyone religious doctrine prescription, “alternative” or conventional, and thank you Orac for shining the light

  63. #63 accidie
    March 11, 2015

    Good on you Amy #1068. I can’t speak for Orac or any of the other people commenting here, but as far as I’m concerned, a response like yours makes all the fighting back against tides of bullshit, being told to ‘educate myself’ and trying to find a chink in the utter stonewalling in the face of evidence – it makes it worthwhile.

  64. #64 accidie
    March 11, 2015

    And if it feels nice, why not go for the reiki? No harm in it.

  65. #65 accidie
    Also in the land of quokkas and echidnas
    March 11, 2015

    What happened there? I must have added a second comment too quickly. The first one was along the lines of:
    Good on you Amy #1068. I can’t speak for Orac or anyone else posting here, but I think your post is what makes it all worthwhile.
    It’s not actually very much fun fighting back against the tide of bullshit, being told to ‘do your research’ (often by people who don’t realise the difference between research and cherry-picking to suit your confirmation bias), being called a ‘Big Pharma shill’ and endlessly rebutting the same tired bollocks, but by god it’s a wonderful feeling when someone gets it.
    More power to your elbow, Amy.

  66. #66 JGC
    March 11, 2015

    And if it feels nice, why not go for the reiki? No harm in it.

    How do you know? Logically, if reiki works–i.e., can cause real physiologic change to occur in human subjects–there’s no reason why those changes must be beneficial, or that beneificial changes might not of necessity be accompanied by mechanism-based or other side effects (as, you’ll note, are most SBM treatment modalities.)

    It’s only if reiki is known not to work–if, like homeopathy, it had been demonstrated to cause no physiologic change in subjects receiving it–that we could confidently predict it wil do no harm.

    In which case, of course (again just like homeopathy) the harm it will do will be limited to your wallet.

  67. #68 Pickwick
    March 12, 2015

    Calli Arcale,

    Thanks for the information about the Gonzalez protocol. It’s just so weird that someone would examine the Gerson treatment and think there was a single good idea to be extracted from its core; it’s crazy nonsense from top to bottom.

    Which doesn’t do much to distinguish it from the bulk of alternative “medicine,” I guess.

  68. #69 Mamtha surendra
    India
    March 13, 2015

    Really deepened by the sorrow of loosing Jessica… May her soul.rest.in peace…. While definitely cancer has taken her. The argument is definitely not if Gerson Therapy helped her stay.longer.or if it failed. There is more to the world that is not seen than seen…. Every person just thinks about the body that has not healed…. Instead try looking beyond the body in the world we live in…. The vibrations it’s creating to live our life on it. Answers lie there but not only in our body…. Watch “Geopathic Stress Documentary” on YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Wprr9TYUwo&feature=youtube_gdata_player

  69. #70 G
    March 13, 2015

    don’t understand where were these ’10 months of constant bleeding’ ?
    This interview (http://thewellnesscouch.com/uc/uc-119-jessica-ainscough-the-wellness-warrior-part-2) was recorded May 2014 and gives absolutely no indication of such health demise, a photo of her in a sleeveless dress from the interview was posted on their FB page, so how the heck could she have been bleeding..
    the interviewers gushing over her ‘you have a really good colour about you! (her)’ and I saw her in early/mid December in a health food store in Bondi with her partner , plus a few pics on friends insta feeds of her out and about in September and November last year.

  70. #71 Chris
    Australia
    March 14, 2015

    G.

    Remember that this was just before she had her hibernation From her blog. So maybe things were getting much worse around this time and you just caught the tail end of the reasonable health. Things clearly went downhill after that.

  71. #72 lilady
    March 14, 2015

    Jess herself described her axilla wound as “fungating” and bleeding constantly. She neglecting to describe the pervasive stench emanating from the putrefying flesh of her untreated cancerous wound:

    Once you’ve providing care and frequently changed the large dressing for the this type of wound, the nauseating stench stays with you for your lifetime.

    Because one (or more) pictures of the rotting misshapen cancerous mass, is worth more than any description provided by the patient and those health care providers who provide terminal care to the patient, I provide pictures for you to peruse:

    http://www.worldwidewounds.com/2002/march/Naylor/Symptom-Control-Fungating-Wounds.html

    She must have experienced horrific increasing pain as the fungating wound progressed, which would have required mega doses of opiate medications.

  72. #73 palindrom
    March 14, 2015

    Yikes. One never knows what one would actually do in an extreme situation, but I think if I had a fungating advanced cancer I’d seriously consider doing myself in.

  73. #74 Notchka
    March 14, 2015

    @ Chris #1077

    Wow. . . the Belle Gibson story is really something else.

    “… may have been misdiagnosed” with brain, spleen, liver, blood, and uterine cancer? Oops. It appears (to me) that she wanted to be Jess Ainscough – but without all that pesky illness stuff.

    Before doubts surfaced:

    http://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/health/the-whole-pantry-founder-inspires-in-the-face-of-terminal-cancer/story-fniym874-1227133426731

  74. #75 Woowont Work
    Australia
    March 15, 2015

    To the commentator Amy-
    Your post has absolutely broken me. I know this is supposed to be about Jess but crikey , to me you are 10 x the warrior. You’ve tried so many things from conventional to crap, THATS courage. (I’m sorry but Jess sounded scared of conventional medicine- a warrior? ) And I’m in the same boat as you with the autoimmune bullshit as I have chronic Crohns AND ulcerative colitis. I’ve had most my bowel removed for the colitis, I’ve been on every diet , both conventional and quack. I’ve met more frauds and con-people ( the nicer they seem the more evil they are) and I’ve been on hundreds of forums. And not one helped ( coffee enemas actually hospitalized me , this was before I made the colostomy decision). So what to do? This worked for me-
    •Accept it. Realize that its there and just keep going. Make it not the defining part of your life, there’s better things, more important things than autoimmune bullshit, don’t let it rule you.
    •See your doctor regularly; just in case there’s new treatments.
    •Join a support community either online or in person. They know what you are going through, not some author, guru, doctor, wellness advisor, blogger, agenda pusher etc. I don’t know what I would have done without my wonderful fellow sufferers. Sometimes you just need support not fucking advice, advice advice.
    • Eat well, exercise , rest. I lose a lot of nutrition so I juice heaps and make sure I eat a lot of antioxidants and a wide range of foods too. Any “nutritionist” that tells you to increase your intake of one particular food is a liar. Variety works, just avoid stuff that makes you feel not that good. I cant eat honey for example and I will feel a little flat before the real symptoms occur if I eat it. Exercise keeps the cardio up , a brisk walk/run makes me feel awesome plus tired for better sleep.
    • Laugh. Really. Laugh at cat videos, watch a comedy with friends. Go with friends to a church or yoga class and try NOT to laugh. For me this is great therapy. Real positivity not some somber seminar/lecture about thetans or fluoride or whatever thats designed to scare you into using their product/ course or whatever.
    I wish you well Amy and let’s hope one day science will find a cure for the autoimmune scourge in our lifetime.

  75. […] mange tragiske tilfeller bare fra nyere tid, for eksempel dette barnet, eller dette barnet, eller denne kvinnen, eller denne kvinnen, eller denne jenta, eller denne gutten, eller denne kvinnen, eller denne […]

  76. #77 LinnieMae
    March 21, 2015

    earthchild #151: “Jess knew she was unwell, she knew she was taking risks and decided to focus on the quality of her life, rather than the quality and timing of her death. This woman is nothing short of an inspiration.”

    The quality of her life? Arranging her entire days around coffee enemas 5 times a day and juicing every hour (along with cleaning out that juicer every hour)? Her armpit bleeding for 10 months before she died? Uh, no, not my idea of quality of life.

  77. #78 Narad
    March 26, 2015

    On a slight tangent – I attended a preview of the Ken Burns Emperor of All Maladies documentary

    I normally consider CBC’s “Q” to be something overall just to try to endure – not always successfully – for lack of better radio options in the slot, and I’m sure Burns has been saying exactly the same thing over and over again while media-touring to promote the series, but he’s really good at it.

  78. […] «Wellness Warrior» Jess Ainscough declined traditional cancer treatments in favor of natural and alternative treatments and passed […]

  79. #80 Ivania
    April 9, 2015

    It seems to me this form of cancer is aggressive and would’ve progressed no matter what treatment she chose. But I know she tried both conventional and unconventional treatments. I admire her for everything she tried. Finding out about her passing brought tears to my eyes and I didn’t even know her.

  80. […] with her daughter. She died less than 2 years before Jess did. Surgeon, scientist and blogger David Gorski reminds us that “Jess Ainscough was also a victim of the very pseudoscience that she promoted” and while […]

  81. […] Because people are dying now.  […]

  82. #83 PeterS
    Adelaide
    April 18, 2015

    While cancer might not always, and perhaps even hardly ever been cured through a diet change, it remains a fact that the more animal food we eat, the higher the cancer chances (WHO data), especially our western cancers: colon, pancreas, breast, prostate, testicle, melanoma, kidney i.e. those cancers not influenced by infections of sorts. Gerson still had a preventative point. The Gerson, McDougall, Living Foods, Macrobiotic diets having positive cancer claims are all plant based. The implications of this for big pharma, meat,dairy,fish,egg, processed food industry are enormous and they try to keep us in the dark while continuing profits. – The animal’s natural and artificial growth hormones promote cancer growth in us. The WHO has labeled estrogen as a carcinogen. This is just one of about 40 growth factors found in animal food known. Estrogen is only dangerous in elevated levels, so are the other growth factors. The denial of us being plant eaters is costing us… Peter

  83. #84 Chris
    April 18, 2015

    “The implications of this for big pharma, meat,dairy,fish,egg, processed food industry are enormous and they try to keep us in the dark while continuing profits.”

    Prove it.

    “The animal’s natural and artificial growth hormones promote cancer growth in us.”

    Citation needed.

  84. #85 Bec
    April 18, 2015

    Even if Peter’s ridiculous tirade against animal products were true – and it isn’t – Gerson involves people eating dessicated animal thyroid and pancreas as part of the treatment. It isn’t vegan – if anything, it makes patients eat the least delicious part of the animal.

  85. #86 Narad
    April 18, 2015

    it remains a fact that the more animal food we eat, the higher the cancer chances (WHO data)

    You skipped the step where you provide the data.

  86. #87 daniel c renzulli
    United States
    April 20, 2015

    for all who down the gerson therapy what about the thousands of others that it has cured and also maybe god wanted her with him
    also being vegan dose not garen you not to get cancer
    being vegan is not for all either

  87. #88 Chris
    April 20, 2015

    ” gerson therapy what about the thousands of others that it has cured”

    PubMed indexed studies not by Gerson and friends as citations needed.

  88. #89 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    April 20, 2015

    maybe god wanted her with him

    Well, isn’t that comforting. God, who is omnipotent, omniscient, all loving, and eternal has so little patience that (s)he wanted Ms. Ainscough with him/her/it RIGHT NOW, DAMMIT!!!! No waiting for a normal lifespan, not for this God.

  89. #90 Lisa Goudzwaard
    Nederland
    April 22, 2015

    This means chemotherapy and regular medicine is quakery ,since many people who were treated with chemo have died anyway.

  90. #91 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    April 22, 2015

    @Lisa Goudzwaard – how does the survival for people treated with regular medicine compare to those with equivalent untreated cancers? How does the survival rate for those treated with, say, Gerson protocol compare to those with equivalent untreated cancers?

  91. #92 Militant Agnostic
    April 23, 2015

    his means chemotherapy and regular medicine is quakery

    What does the Religious Society of Friends have to do with chemotherapy and regular medicine?

  92. #93 TBruce
    April 23, 2015

    This means chemotherapy and regular medicine is quackery

    Not so, chemotherapy and regular medicine is open to people of any religion (or even none).

  93. #94 TBruce
    April 23, 2015

    So autocorrect went and spoiled my joke. Not only that, Militant Agnostic beat me to it. I think it’s time for bed.

  94. #95 Militant Agnostic
    April 23, 2015

    @TBruce

    Recently a customer responded to an email telling her that automatic credit payment had been declined with “My keys inhaled my credit card ….” I am sure by now somewhere auto-correct has turned a perfectly sensible sentence into “Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.”

  95. #96 Dirk
    United States
    April 24, 2015

    I have lived with an indolent cancer for more than a decade. If treatment is ever on the horizon I will try a whole-plant cannabis oil with a high THC content known as Rick Simpson Oil first. Cannabis oil isn;t “woo.” Cannabis oil is medicine.

  96. #97 Mephistopheles O'Brien
    April 24, 2015

    Dirk – what studies show that it is effective against the type of cancer you have? How effective is it?

    Thanks.

  97. #98 Tanya
    Perth Australia
    April 25, 2015

    I have been successfully using natural therapies for 25+ years. My health has improved dramatically, despite the fact I am 25 years older (I am 62). What I learnt from my experiences -listen to your body, observe, take tests, to see if it works for you, if not, move on and try something else. Be wise and persistent, listen and learn from your mistakes and others. As to Gerson therapy, basically combination of cleansing and diet, as useful as they are, are only the first steps to someone’s health. Cancer is a serious disease, and you may need to deploy a ‘heavier artillery’ from natural therapy arsenals to rid of it.

  98. #99 Dangerous Bacon
    April 25, 2015

    “What I learnt from my experiences -listen to your body, observe, take tests, to see if it works for you, if not, move on and try something else.”

    What many have learned over the years is that it is foolish to make themselves guinea pigs by repeatedly attempting remedies that have no logical or evidentiary foundation, trying over and over again as these nostrums fail (despite enthusiastic undocumented anecdotes from others).

    Cancer is indeed a serious disease, and you need to start out by using a proven treatment, instead of jumping from one failure to another until you’re left with “heavier artillery” (hourly instead of daily enemas? more fluid? stronger coffee???) and disease that’s spread and/or metastasized.

  99. #100 KayMarie
    April 25, 2015

    Dear God what is heavier artillery than hourly juices during every waking hour that take the better part of an hour to prepare and 5 coffee enemas a day that you have to fit in between the juice (which is actually why you probably need 2 people to make Gerson a full time lifestyle just to get one person through it).

  100. #101 NumberWang
    April 25, 2015

    Maybe the first thing alt med enthusiasts should realise is that it’s not WISE to ignore the experts.

  101. #102 shay
    April 25, 2015

    KayMarie — ‘zackly.

    I do wish people like Tanya would explain what is so all-fired natural about shoving coffee up your ass five times a day?

  102. #103 Kate
    SF
    April 26, 2015

    I’ve spent nearly half a day reading these posts with interest, frustration and some degree of sadness. I believe in science with the understanding that there is so much that we do not yet know. But we study more and learn more everyday. The placebo effect can be powerful too, but it’s not a reliable cure for anything.

    In any case, my reason for posting… There is one perspective I wish to present for all of those who talk about Big Pharma as if it’s this entity with the intent of prolonging pain for countless victims for the sake of greed:

    My father worked as a PHD engineer at a large pharmaceutical company for 25+ years. A substantial portion of that time was spent developing a targeted cancer therapy. The conspiracy theories don’t take into account the very real people who dedicate their lives to developing these science-based medicines which then go through extensive FDA trials to prove efficacy before being released into the market.

    While it is true that pharmaceutical companies spend more money researching treatments that will ultimately lead to a return-on-investment(just like any other private company attempting to remain solvent), there are countless foundations that distribute grants to support other research that may not be in the realm of the pharmaceutical companies. Universities also play a role in scientific efforts to better our world.

    I find the idea perpetuated by some of the alt-med extremists that science-based medicine is tainted by Big Pharma greed to be really unfortunate. Some of the conspiracy theories are astounding. My father and his team were hard at work and truly cared about outcomes. Corporations are not people but are made up of thousands of people who all make individual decisions. It’s a mistake to eliminate the human element.

  103. #104 Chris
    April 26, 2015

    Kate: “My father and his team were hard at work and truly cared about outcomes.”

    🙂

    Good on you and your father. A friend of mine works as a PhD for a pharmaceutical company. She has changed jobs often due her employer going under or being bought by another company. She is also a beast cancer survivor.

    “Corporations are not people but are made up of thousands of people who all make individual decisions. It’s a mistake to eliminate the human element.”

    Who also need get sick and need real medicine.

    Here is something you will enjoy:
    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2013/02/14/the-pharma-shill-gambit/

  104. […] the news of late. Each battled cancer with the same kind of pseudoscience that Hari preaches. One died after seeking radiology treatment at the eleventh hour, while the other admitted she never had […]

  105. #106 L
    May 8, 2015

    The author does not actually care one iota for her. With the admission that natural stuff failed her, you have to admit oncology failed her. Can you imagine someone writing like this about all the chemo patients who die on a daily basis? It’s your insensitivity that leads people to be so offput as to avoid your recommendations. You disrespect. You insult.

    You do not get to pretend you care.

  106. #107 Chris
    May 8, 2015

    “You disrespect. You insult.”

    And you don’t? Perhaps you should try reading the article.

  107. #108 Dangerous Bacon
    May 8, 2015

    “Can you imagine someone writing like this about all the chemo patients who die on a daily basis?”

    If someone blogged how how a particular type of chemotherapy cured her cancer and made a career out of promoting the drug, only it turned out that the drug had never been found to effectively treat that kind of cancer and was actually a fraud, you bet that would get skeptical attention and people would write about it.

    “you have to admit oncology failed her.”

    No, waiting until one’s disease is incurable and terminal before using recommended treatment does not constitute a failure of that treatment.

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