The Wellness Warrior, Jess Ainscough, has passed away

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.

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So sad. My thoughts go out to her family and friends.

Tragic. For her, and those that followed her lead. Thank you for explaining this.

By Dorit Reiss (not verified) on 27 Feb 2015 #permalink

Orac,
I have tried to email you, but it bounced. Anyway to email?

"...with the noblest of motivations in the beginning, did harm and likely led some cancer patients down the path of quackery and death.". - WHAT A DISGUSTING THING TO SAY ABOUT SOMEONE WHO JUST LOST THEIR LIFE..... have a little respect and empathy.

By Rhian Marie Hunter (not verified) on 27 Feb 2015 #permalink

What's also really sad is that it hasn't been 24 hours since her death, and this post is out.

With your assumptive, pseudo compassionate rhetoric that only mildly disguises your self-important and, dare I say, know it all attitude, you will most likely block this comment from being seen.

So consider - if even only for yourself - that a) yes. You don't know why she died. b) there are many MANY cases of cancer survivors who did it specifically because they avoided much of the "approved" cancer medicine/treatment that has killed probably as many as it has saved.

And for the sake of decency, your self promoting article comes a bit early, don't you think? A sense of taste would not be missed if you waited a week before promoting how much you think you know, discrediting something you yourself are only speculating about.

Her death is so sad. She lived life on her terms and made decisions that were a matter of life and death. People die everyday even though they had surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. The stats are grim. Don't be a school of voracious paranas and tear her memory to bits. Cancer sucks and unless you have had it and lived through it you do not understand how truly difficult it is to navigate the waters of modern drug based medicine, nutritional therapy and alternative methods. No method of treatment is 100 percent for all types of cancers. Be thankful you do not yet have cancer and be kind to those who have lived through its ravages.

Well said Orac.

To those who suggest Orac wait one week before blogging about this; why one week? Why not one month? Why not one year? Given that he has written about this many times before, why should he ignore it until then? What would it accomplish?

Do you similarly suggest that alt-med woo-pushers not write about bad outcomes in conventional medicine until an arbitrary time period has passed?

I am deeply sorrowed by this sad news. Such a young life take away. God Bless her soul and that of her late Mom, family, and friends. Prayers!

Truth hurts, does it Rhian?

By Rebecca Fisher (not verified) on 27 Feb 2015 #permalink

To call it a 'quackery' constantly - shows your defense. And why? Because you fear. Fear the truth maybe? Jess may have lived a short life, but one that has impacted thousands and many for the better rather than shortening the lives of hundreds of patients by fueling their bodies with an endless amount of poisons. This was her path. How close minded of you and how so heartless - have your opinion, but to display it with such haste? I can feel the jealously. And in Jess' eyes she would only bless your poor soul for looking upon her in such a way. I am mortified that someone from your background could speak of someone in such a manner and to me, it is evident you see natural therapies as a pure threat. You wouldn't state how many have passed from aggressive chemotherapy or radiation treatments - you would just blame it on the state of the cancer patient itself. Jess was here to bring something to this world, to open up people's eyes and allow them to see through the victimizing options our so called caring system gives the world. I didn't know Jess personally but I am so proud of a young woman who did it her way - a short life, but wow, what a sweet, full and passionate one, living her dream. It would be great if western medicine would incorporate half of what Jess advocated but we all know why.. There is no money in natural therapies - the 'system' enjoys keeping people in these endless cycles of pain. Maybe you should start living your purpose like Jessica did. At least she lived her truth.

Cancer sucks and unless you have had it and lived through it you do not understand how truly difficult it is to navigate the waters of modern drug based medicine, nutritional therapy and alternative methods. No method of treatment is 100 percent for all types of cancers.

No one, least of all myself, argues conventional treatment is 100% effective. As a cancer surgeon myself, I know this not to be true. What I do know are what treatments have evidence to support them and what treatments do not. As I described above, I fully understand what a crappy hand the universe dealt Jess Ainscough. She was only 22 when she developed a very rare cancer for which the only known effective treatment involved a radical and disfiguring amputation of her arm. It's quite understandable that she didn't want that. Who would? In blogging about her case over the last year and a half or so, I've asked myself before whether I could tolerate such an amputation, even of my non-dominant arm, if it would save my life. (Certainly, such an operation would end my career as a surgeon and would also make my writing and blogging much more difficult.)

I also understand that her doctors offered her an alternative that, while it wasn't proven for this cancer (very little is, other than wide excision, given how rare this cancer is), and she tried it. It worked at first, but then her tumor relapsed.

The saddest part of the story of Jess Ainscough is that she clearly had so much talent and drive, but she used it to promote Gerson quackery. I realize those who are so upset about this post won't believe me, but I wouldn't have minded nearly as much if she just promoted her "Wellness Warrior" lifestyle, vegan diet, exercise, etc., without the Gerson therapy. After all, a better diet coupled with exercise tends to be a good thing for most people. Gerson therapy, however, is pure cancer quackery, and she promoted it with as much gusto as she promoted other parts of her "Wellness Warrior" lifestyle. Although it's been marked private now and can no longer be accessed, I remember a video in which she demonstrated how to mix up and administer a coffee enema as part of Gerson therapy. She made it look like the greatest thing since sliced bread with respect to her health.

So, yes, it's very sad that she and her mother were both taken in by Gerson quackery. (Actually, her mother's case is even more sad because she, unlike her daughter, had an eminently treatable cancer, breast cancer, and therefore probably wouldn't have died if she undertook conventional therapy. Jess, on the other hand, probably had nothing that could be done for her other than radical amputation.) In this, Jess and Sharyn Ainscough were as much victims as any other cancer patient who chooses alternative medicine quackery. Unfortunately, she also promoted that same quackery, which made them perpetrators as well. That is frequently the case with believers in alt-med cancer "cures."

It is not disrespectful to point that out.

With the greatest respect to you and your expertise, I feel this post should have waited a little while. Jess probably has not even had a memorial service held for her yet, therefore releasing this post so quickly is rather insensitive.

To call it a ‘quackery’ constantly – shows your defense.

No, I call Gerson therapy "quackery" because it is quackery. It doesn't work, and there's no reason to think it should work.

No method of treatment is 100 percent for all types of cancers.

Nobody here is claiming a treatment would be. But not all methods of treatment are equal, either. We know the average survival rates for various combinations of chemotherapy, radiation and surgery because there have been numerous studies made, patients followed and any complications noted and investigated. We know chemotherapy has side effects, because it has been studied. Doctors by and large explain these results when discussing therapies.

The same can't usually be said for those proposing alternative treatments - they rarely cite studies involving survival rates, but rely on testimonials (sometimes from people who have since succumbed to the disease they had thought cured, even). What case studies the advocates present are usually limited, contain few cherry picked subjects rather than large groups of people. In almost all cases, the more rigorous a study, the less effective the treatments seem to be.

While some may dismiss these as bought-and-paid for by Big Pharma or whatever nefarious group they choose, what I find most telling is the lack of large, well controlled studies showcased by the proponents - they are either not doing those studies (while still marketing the therapy) or not publishing those studies, and I can't figure out any other reason than they not showing what you'd like. If they had a cancer cure surely it would be beneficial for both cancer patients and their personal pocket book to prove that their protocol works.

But judging by the available, well-designed evidence we have, no alternative treatment comes close to replicating same survival rates as conventional treatment. Often, they don't much differ from not treating the condition at all. And sometimes they do much much worse, like the Gonzalez protocol, where patients on it did worse than comparable patients without treatment, both in quality of life and in survival times.

That is the reason many on this forum and elsewhere promote conventional medical treatments - we know they can help because we've compared them to not treating. We know how they work, and And there is an easy way to change our minds - publishing the evidence, not just a handful of glowing testimonials. Shouldn't be that hard, given the glowing praise and exuberant promises associated with alternative cancer treatments.

So. Closed. Minded.

Such a shame it has to be one or the other!. I'm pretty sure Jess was not as closed minded as you. Both western medicine and alternative medicine can work together. To think there is just one way... I will never understand that.

I too think this post is too soon. All was needed was some humility and condolences.

Isn't this the perfect time to point out that while her disease was tragic and difficult, Gerson and quackery in general are never a good idea? Many people looking at this are clearly supporters and possibly acolytes of her folly. They should be warned.

I'm three years in remission for stage II(b) prostate cancer - Gleason score 7 (3+4), so I _do_ get to sound off. My job title is "Associate Professor of Human Anatomy and Physiology," and I've done research on ultrasound imaging of breast diseases, specifically cancers, so I'm moderately familiar with the topic at hand.

What Ms. Ainscough did was understandable, but wrong. She did, in fact, contribute to her early demise by going for non-treatment over the best available therapy. She did, in fact, steer others to that same, erroneous path.

I have daughters her age, so I sympathize. Still doesn't make what she did correct.

fusilier
James 2:24

Thank you for saying that, fusilier.

While conventional Cancer treatments aren't 100% effective, they are better than the 0% chance that these alternative treatments would be effective......

Jess didn't live with Cancer for 7 years, she was dying of Cancer for 7 years (and quite horribly, it seems, at the end).

Ultimately Jess exercised her freedom as a human being to follow a treatment that she believed in as a human being. We all have that choice. And we all have the right to change our beliefs at any point in our journey as well. Jess was dying, and non of us know what it felt like to be on her personal journey. For the time she chose to follow her natural therapy, she believed in something and connected with something and possibly brought meaning to the life she had... despite it being short. She was completely entitled to this. And others who choose to follow the same therapies have every right to follow those desires if they wanted to. What's wrong with putting hope into one treatment over another? Yes she died... but she may not have had a wonderful or long life on conventional therapy anyway. You would have never known who she was, you may have never seen her smile, you may have never seen the image of a young woman who seemed happy. How do you know she wasn't happy? And something in her wanted to spread that happiness and hope. I am a medical doctor too... and I have seen how powerful a patient's mind set and the hope that they have can effect their illness. She put a lot of effort into understanding her own illness and what it meant for her. She deserves support no matter what path she chose. There are many treatment success stories with conventional and alternative therapies. The same goes for stories of death. There is boundless evidence to support the case that a healthy diet can support healing. Sometimes it doesn't work. But the deeper connection and peace this lifestyle creates can set up for a much better quality of life. She chose the way she wanted to live, and we all have the right to do that... and we should respect the choices others make. I have heard my colleagues in oncology and chronic disease say numerous times that the best thing a patient can do is pick a treatment, and stick to that treatment... commit to it. She committed to something. And when she was dying she experienced fear. I think that's a normal reaction that even someone dying after conventional treatment would experience... maybe that person, when they realized they were dying, would regret not trying a natural approach and regret not having used their last few years eating good healthy food instead of being weak, sick and anorexic. She's a human being. She made a choice for her own life. She committed to it. She saw some value in it. She promoted it. It's up to us to make our own informed decisions as well. We are all going to die. And we can all choose how we want to live, and how we want to die. And we are allowed to make mistakes along the way. I think it's sad that there is this shaming being projected onto a human being who lived a beautifu and fulll life. Dying is not easy for anybody.

You don't halt the evacuation of a burning building for even a minute to mourn the dead. I see nothing wrong with writing a post this soon as a warning to others.

By Gray Falcon (not verified) on 27 Feb 2015 #permalink

Many people looking at this are clearly supporters and possibly acolytes of her folly. They should be warned.

Indeed.

I suspect that the reaction to this post from her fans would have been just as hostile if I had waited until Monday or if I had waited for a week.

Jess looked like a very likeable and talented woman. Very sad news.

So well said nancy d! We all have a choice. Was she not free to make her own decisions about HER body?

I think the waiting re posting this is more about respect! People that have that "told you so" attitude have never been my favorite type... Shows so much arrogance and takes me back to the school yard!

Orac, you did the right thing by immediately blogging about this. This is too important to let lie; now is the time to talk about it. I am very, very sorry for Jessica's dad who has lost both his wife and daughter to cancers that are often treatable through conventional medicine.

If your loved one decided to drive off a bridge, would you support them in their decision?

By Gray Falcon (not verified) on 27 Feb 2015 #permalink

I'm seeing lots of criticism of Orac on this thread from handles I don't recall seeing before. Yes, Ms. Ainscough had the freedom to pursue the treatment path she chose. But she chose … poorly.

The people who criticize Orac for posting about Ms. Aisncough so soon after her death sound like people who say we shouldn't discuss certain current events: we shouldn't discuss it immediately after it happens, because the family is grieving, and by the time a decent interval has elapsed, we shouldn't discuss it because it's old news. I'd call such views bovine excrement, but that wouldn't be fair to bovine excrement, which has legitimate use as a fertilizer. If it was quackery last year, and will still be quackery next year, then it's quackery today, and Orac is entirely correct to call it quackery. And while it may be a bit much to hope that this will happen, maybe somebody will learn from Ms. Ainscough's story, and at least not make the same mistakes Ms. Aincough made.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 27 Feb 2015 #permalink

I take this as a reminder of why rationalists, skeptics and science communicators need empathy. These are very human problems we may all face, and as much as possible, we have to allow that hope is precious, but sometimes irrational.

My sincere condolences to the family and friends of Jess.

By c0nc0rdance (not verified) on 27 Feb 2015 #permalink

As you pointed out, it's very sad and tragic that Jess died at such a young age. From pictures, she was a beautiful and vibrant young woman who was dealt a rotten hand from life. Much sympathy to her friends and family who knew and loved her. Much sorrow to the followers of her woo who are headed down the same path.

"... Cancer sucks and unless you have had it and lived through it you do not understand how truly difficult it is to navigate the waters of modern drug based medicine, nutritional therapy and alternative methods..."

I have had it. I have lived through it. I am fully aware of how difficult it is. And I, unfortunately, became very aware of how much misleading information there is out there about "alternatives" and alternative therapies that just don't work when I developed cancer.

"... You wouldn’t state how many have passed from aggressive chemotherapy or radiation treatments – you would just blame it on the state of the cancer patient itself...."

Actually, no. CANCER is to blame. It's nasty that way.

"... it is evident you see natural therapies as a pure threat..."

"Natural" therapies are not the threat. but people advocating for untried, untrue and completely unsubstantiated treatments and "cures" are concerning. So, too, is their assumption that because it's "natural", it's better. However, "natural treatments" throughout all the course of human history have never, ever cured cancer.

As someone who has had cancer, I completely understand that - at some point as the disease progresses - you want to focus on quality of life and the life that you have left. And it is entirely a personal decision when someone has reached that point and wishes to quit all treatment. However, it's one thing to make that decision for YOURSELF and it's quite another to portray that decision as something that others should emulate and embrace.

I will always support personal choice based on quality of life and informed consent. But what I cannot condone as a former cancer patient, are those people who - for whatever reason, be it personal choice, belief, whatever - encourage others to follow them, to trust them and to emulate them when, time and time again, it's been shown that such therapies simply do not work. Because, believe you me, if scientific research proves without a doubt that drinking honey badger pee would prevent my cancer from coming back, I'd be first in line. But science have proven a much better success rate for conventional, science-based treatment for cancer.

I never knew Jess Ainscough; however she seemed like a lovely, personable, beautiful young woman and her loss is deeply regrettable. Cancer sucks. My heart goes out to her family and friends.

By SelenaWolf (not verified) on 27 Feb 2015 #permalink

I am offended reading this article and embarrassed that it has been published for all to see.

We cannot judge someone else's choices. For all you know, to many, the choice of chopping of one's arm is 'quackery'. Chemotherapy is a very debilitating treatment that does not have a 100% success rate:

The gerson therapy has been kneon to be very effective for certain cancers and if that's the therapy choice one chooses, we cannot judge. You don't know that had jess chosen another kind of treatment she would have lived a healthier or happier life.
Be sensitive to others choices and other wisdoms that you do not know much about.

So well said nancy d! We all have a choice. Was she not free to make her own decisions about HER body?

Except it wasn't just a personal choice she made regarding her body. She made that choice for herself, and chose to promote it and lead other people astray, who will die because they opted to believe it.

I'm sorry a human being lost her life. But that won't stop me from pointing out the folly in her decision, as OTHER PEOPLE have been negatively influenced by it and are heading down this same path.

By Frequent Lurker (not verified) on 27 Feb 2015 #permalink

@nancy d

Every person has the right to choose which path they will take, certainly. But that does not mean that they are free from having it pointed out where that path leads. And if their path is headed to a bad place, and they are convincing others to follow them down that same path to that same bad place, then do others not also have the right to point that out? To shine a light on it and say, "Hey, that's probably a bad idea and here's why."?

We can have compassion for Jess for what she went through and where she ended up, while also talking about the choices she made and their consequences. There is no disrespect in that. In fact, I'd argue it is out of great respect for others who might otherwise follow Jess's lead to try to help them see where they are headed, to help them find the path(s) that lead to a cure or greater life.

Except it wasn’t just a personal choice she made regarding her body. She made that choice for herself, and chose to promote it and lead other people astray, who will die because they opted to believe it.

Exactly. It would have been bad enough if she had just chosen the Gerson protocol for herself. I've said it before, and I'll say it again. Any competent adult can choose any treatment she wants, as far as I'm concerned, as long as she knows what she's getting herself into. (As regular readers know, it tends to be when parents impose such quackery on their children that I become very testy.) But Ainscough also promoted this quackery. As I said, she is both victim and perpetrator. I can understand how the unique circumstances of her cancer and the disfiguring nature of the surgery required to remove it might have led a woman in her early 20's to look for other "alternatives," but unfortunately Ainscough went beyond that.

If the publishing of this can protect just one person from being duped into undergoing fake treatments for a fatal condition then it will have been worth it.

It's incredibly distasteful to post a 'told you so' commentary at this juncture. It was her path and her choice. If other people chose to listen to her along the way- then it was *drum toll* their choice. Religion has far more to answer for in the arena of 'wrongly influencing people' than this poor girl. Leave her be. You sound completely sanctimonious at this point in time, and true enough, there will come a time where you are wrong also. It happens to all of us. No matter how 'smart' you think you are. We're all human, and fallible.

Jess... Someone who simply shared her story. People listen, learn and take what they wish. To suggest she is a perpetrator is too much. You don't know her, you don't know the team she worked with throughout her journey. She also shared this and how each played a crucial role throughout her journey. Some not so called "quacks". Some who are a bit like you... Just not so closed minded. Some who see the need for different treatments to work together.
Will leave you to your many followers who will forever subscribe to one way! It would be so much easier to continue reading if you actually knew Jess and her full story. But truth is, you don't. You probably know 5% of it.
Rest in peace beautiful Jess. You have inspired many to think. No harm in that.

I find it extraordinary that people are saying this post is too soon while her fans are still, on this day, promoting the quackery that she espoused as a good thing while eulogising her. Stop that and there would be no need for posts like this, until then how dare you criticise those whose aim is to stop other people being taken in by these abhorrent scams. This stuff KILLS.

By frozenwarning (not verified) on 27 Feb 2015 #permalink

An unfortunate loss for many reasons. No emotional conviction or "alternative" strategy, however inspirational or appealing, will reverse the pathological indifference of pseudoganulomatous formation with vascular invasion.

By armchairdeductions (not verified) on 27 Feb 2015 #permalink

Lots of new faces here desperate to canonize Jess & preserve her "legacy" it seems.....because if her choices were wrong and contributed her death (which the most likely did), it means that Jess was wrong & that people who have decided to follow in her footsteps (on the belief that somehow Jess was beating her Cancer) are also wrong.

Again, it was her choice, but the fact that she created this large following of people & ultimately mislead them as to the state of her illness, means that she did bear responsibility....it is extremely sad that she passed away, but contributing to leading other down the primrose path is not the kind of legacy that a person should be proud of.

It is utter nonsense, all this 'wait a week', 'wait a month', 'wait until I say you can' comment business... The tragedy of this gorgeous and intelligent if deluded young woman is heartbreaking. The pain her family feels can only be intense.

Do not forget however, her very actions; the subversion of her considerable intellect and energy into promoting such an irredeemable farrago as the 'Gershon Therapy' may very well have caused another family, another husband/partner of another beautiful and intelligent wife to suffer the same endless pain and the same indescribable loss. Except... in many cases THEIR loved one may very well have been curable, could very well be alive and happy today if they had followed the path of logic and reason and NOT the path of the coffee enema which 'Wellness Warrior' spent so many of her final days promoting.

Do not speak of this? Leave this a week/month/year? NO. Now is the exact time to speak of it when the pain and horror are still fresh in everyone's mind; when we can still see so clearly how ghastly the end is which comes for those who do not choose actual, working medicine for cancer.

All of her alternative 'strategy', her illiteracy in chemistry, her ignorance of biology and physiology, her blind confidence in sheerest woo categorically did NOT work. Obviously - or we would not be discussing this now. She was wrong, her beliefs were wrong, her enthusiasm was misplaced and the results are unspeakably tragic. Yet, when one encourages another to do the same 'wrong' things then you bear some of the guilt when the inevitable, matching tragedy strikes.

To refuse treatment for oneself is entirely your decision to make. Only YOU know the true cost and risks you are taking. I am convinced not a single poster here would take away the ability of an adult of sound mind to make that misguided choice - and whatever the case I personally would not. Ever. Yet, to encourage others to make the same choice - when you clearly can see - and feel - the consequences of your decisions even as you promote them... That is unforgivable.

And THAT is also an integral part of the tragedy of 'The Wellness Warrior'. It should not be forgotten nor mollified by the passage of time.

I am tremendously sorry for her family. I am also tremendously sorry for those who followed her unwise advice.

By Gemman Aster (not verified) on 27 Feb 2015 #permalink

Having experienced people close to me dying young, I know how tragic Jessica's death would be to those who loved her. I thought this post was respectful of that. Rather, I see it as an indictment of the Gerson "treatment", which should be called out for what it is - a useless, lethal fraud.
To all the newbies approving the "different path", read this:
https://rosaliehilleman.wordpress.com/2014/02/21/the-wellness-warrior-d…
- along with Orac's previous posts about the Wellness Warrior.

I have no problem criticizing a different path when it involves going over a cliff.

To all the woo-head tone trolls:
Do not presume to give orders to the person in charge.
Do not spread your destructive, hateful ideas here.
Do not act as though a fool should be shielded from being pointed out as an example of foolish behavior.

Leave.
You are not welcome here.
Do not return.

By Chan Kobun, th… (not verified) on 27 Feb 2015 #permalink

To be honest, the more I see of these "not now, not yet" comments, the more I have to ask: If not now, then when, specifically? I'm very serious, and if anyone making such comments castigating me for having posted this today can answer that question, please do. If you can persuade me, maybe the next time this sort of thing happens I will wait. Is anyone up for this challenge?

Re #32:
"For all you know, to many, the choice of chopping of one’s arm is ‘quackery’. "

That isn't how this works. Whether something is quackery is not relative nor is it a subjective question. Is there science behind a proposed treatment or not? That is the question that determines whether something is or is not quackery.

"The gerson therapy has been kneon to be very effective for certain cancers and if that’s the therapy choice one chooses, we cannot judge. "

No, it has not. The gerson "therapy" is pure unadulterated bovine excrement which has never been effective at anything other than separating fools from their money.

Congratulations Jessica for doing what you believe in 100 percent. Everyone that met her loved her and she brightened up the Sunshine Coast. It is a fine line between when to give up on the natural medicine and go with the other option. She had a great life and has made alot of people happier in their lives. I would rather quack like a duck then follow like a boring sheep. Great work Jessica!!! RIP

By Nathan Abbey (not verified) on 27 Feb 2015 #permalink

To the sanctimonious holier than thou sonofabishes here who are quick to demonize her and her choices, I wish it was y'all instead of her who died.

Truly the good die young.

@ Todd W.

Sure Todd. I agree with you. The tone of the general conversation is not as you say though. Not talking about the Gerson therapy specifically, but there is a magnitude of evidence to suggest that treating disease with food and lifestyle can have a profound effect. And it is not a bad path, and there is scientific backing for this. In your opinion it may be a bad path. And even though many have stated the therapy she chose as 'quackery', the concept of using vegetables and fruit as therapy is an ageless trusted and true method of help, and has scientific legitimacy. It's not like she was sacrificing donkeys and dancing around in a pentagram at midnight. She chose to nourish her body with vegetables... and work with optimizing the biochemical processes that keep the body working as it should. Take the word 'gerson' out of it, and she chose a nutritional and body conscious approach to her healing. That's a very respectful choice in my opinion as a doctor. As is choosing to administer help from the outside.

Back to your point, yes its great to be able to have conversation. But the tone to me on a lot of this board seems unfairly condescending.

Confronting the consequences of quackery, I would argue, is best done at these moments. That she, so very unfortunately passed away, provides an opportunity to point out the folly of quackery that very likely led to her mother's early death and that DID NOT improve her quality of life during her struggle with cancer. At this emotional time many will search for information about this story and some will find this post. Any swayed by facts is well worth the offense to the offended.

Not talking about the Gerson therapy specifically, but there is a magnitude of evidence to suggest that treating disease with food and lifestyle can have a profound effect.

However, although there is evidence that food and lifestyle changes can reduce the risk of cancer, there currently is no good evidence that food and lifestyle will reverse an already existing cancer.

And even though many have stated the therapy she chose as ‘quackery’, the concept of using vegetables and fruit as therapy is an ageless trusted and true method of help, and has scientific legitimacy.

Nice conflation of two different things there. The quackery was (and is) the Gerson protocol and related "detoxification" treatments that Jess Ainscough recommended. The green smoothies, etc., were not really quackery but they weren't really going to do much for her cancer either.

Take the word ‘gerson’ out of it, and she chose a nutritional and body conscious approach to her healing.

Nope. The Gerson protocol was part and parcel of the whole package that was The Wellness Warrior. You don't get to expunge it selectively. And the Gerson protocol was not the only quackery Ainscough promoted, only the most egregious and famous.

@nancy d

Not talking about the Gerson therapy specifically

Did you read Orac's post? That was the primary criticism he had, and that Jess led others to choose Gerson. In fact, he specifically notes that if she had removed the Gerson bit from her Wellness Warrior persona, he probably would've left the whole thing alone.

Take the word ‘gerson’ out of it, and she chose a nutritional and body conscious approach to her healing.

Again, Orac already noted this. The rest of his post was respectful to Jess and her memory. The point of the original post is to help shine a light on this so that others will see what Jess chose and where it led. The comments from the regulars here, too, have been respectful to Jess and, appropriately, critical of the quackery that led her astray and which she promoted herself. The two are not mutually exclusive.

Not only did she promote her treatments, she did so in such a way as to mislead people. Her photographs appear to have been deliberately posed in order to conceal the actual state of her cancer wounds, preserving the illusion that her alternative treatments were working just great.

@Orac - would this classify as "RetCon" in your book?

Trying to minimize or scrub Gerson from the narrative entirely?

I don't really understand the logic behind the argument "it was her own choice of what to do with her own body". Disregarding the promotion of Gerson's protocol (for the sake of argument) and assuming that it was only about Jess' choice the article is still a valid warning.

Yes, it was her choice and she hard right to choose whatever therapy she want. This does not make it exempt from criticism. If I stand up right now and leap through the window because maybe suddenly it'll turn I can fly it will be my choice. Still, it will not make anyone who'd say it was a very dumb choice any less right. And it will not make an advice not to try to do this any less legit.

Death of Jess Ainscough is a tragedy. But it is tragedy, that was probably avoidable. As evidenced by the very reactions to this article there are probably people out there on the same path as her. And even if Orac is direct and brutally honest in his writing, a chance that he'll reach someone is worth it.

As much as it may seem as a callous "told you so" (and maybe there's a bit of it there), the real important message is about avoiding the same fate.

By The Smith of Lie (not verified) on 27 Feb 2015 #permalink

I profoundly disagree with those who find it disrespectful for Orac to publish this blog post a day after this woman died.

Orac did the absolutely correct thing and is not violating any special funeral etiquette. He and his followers do not have any personal ties to the family and this is a public blog. Newspapers and op ed columns regularly spend the following day eulogizing a prominent figure who has passed.

This blog post brought tears to my eyes. It was sympathetic, dignified, and educated. To have to wait a few days to publish it out of a mistaken notion of respect would have taken away its immediacy, which packed quite a punch.

If anyone has received the message that Orac is exulting in this woman's demise or cannibalizing her death to score points, they lack reading comprehension skills.

@Lawrence: Yes, absolutely. Notice how all of her YouTube videos have now been marked "private," including the one in which she demonstrates how to mix up a coffee enema. Notice how her Facebook page is gone. Notice how her Twitter account has been suspended. I'm guessing that the people who run her website and blog will be seeking out and deleting references to the Gerson protocol.

However, they can't get rid of everything. For instance, here's an interview on another YouTube channel where Jess exults over the Gerson protocol:

http://youtu.be/sNoeaSTnDR4

And another interview where she enthusiastically endorses coffee enemas:

http://youtu.be/7ae9d6Xd6_0

I am truly saddened to learn of Jess' passing she was a beautiful soul. Jess promoted health and wellness and her audience was far reaching. Much of her work was not specific to cancer but general well-being and for that she will be remembered positively.
As for her cancer, cancer is always sad, dying for cancer even sadder. For those saying this post is too soon, too critical, I'd imagine that even die/hard followers will be taking pause and now wondering about Gersons effectiveness.
Unfortunate, and extremely saddening

Orac's post was not too soon: this is exactly the time to discuss Jess.

It is tragic that she died so young BUT she did mislead others into accepting unviable treatment plans (In truth, she probably misled herself into thinking that she was improving for a long time).She suffered greatly: it is to her credit that she did begin to discuss her condition more realistically IN PART this past year. She didn't go far enough though; I wish that she had.

Because she had so many followers, it is just possible that a few who accepted her advice and didn't subscribe to SBM treatments might now be having second thoughts. Jess had a rare cancer that was treatable at an earlier stage with a terrifying operation whilst other patients- I'm thinking primarily of breast cancer- have far less difficult options and a better chance of cure. Orac is concerned about those people as am I.

With time passing, perhaps Jess' tale will become hagiography- then, her long term survival and her active, uncompromised life ( at least for several years) will be stressed rather than her terrible suffering and the great loss that many now feel. People sometimes lull their doubts and fears in this manner by focusing on a deceased person's strengths and enviable qualities not their declining.

Jess was herself misled by those who promote Gerson therapy: as I understand it, there is currently a Gerson clinic. In addition, there are alt med practitioners and writers who attest to the therapy's efficacy and superiority over SBM. Jess is their victim as well because when she faced her frightening decision whether to have the surgery or not, she must have recalled something she read about alternative methods or someone actively encouraged her in this direction. This material is spread around the internet and deceives patients regularly. Books are written promoting various far-fetched ideas because the truth about cancer is difficult to accept .I hear and read these charlatans on a daily basis.

People who admired Jess might hope that no one else need endure her fate. That's why Orac writes today.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 27 Feb 2015 #permalink

@Janerella #54
This is exact reason for why Orac's post is important and necessary. I am looking at the whole thing from the sidelines, so I can't really understand the logical disconnect between witnessing Jess Ainscough death and redoubling the effort in therapies she promoted. But the chance that people will understand make Orac's effort worth it.

Even if it really was disrespectful.

By The Smith of Lie (not verified) on 27 Feb 2015 #permalink

I'm very sorry to hear this young lady has died. I hope she was able to end her days at home, with family, in hospice care.

Having spent some time (thanks to a rabid antivaxxer who has now defriended me on FB) wandering around the various 'Natural' health sites, the accusations of condescension aimed at Orac and commenters are largely pot calling kettle black.

This poor girl had something she was going to die of. She died of it. Yes, it was her decision to die that way. However, it was also her decision to drag a whole lot of vulnerable people with her. This *is* her legacy, and Orac is right to comment on it, given her passing.

I am in agreement, as a cancer survivor myself, that a healthy lifestyle is of the utmost importance to aid and speed recovery from such a violation of the body that cancer causes. However, I am also adamant that one of my children would not be here and the other three would be motherless if I had chosen to follow the same path and eschewed conventional medicine as Jess did.

Sleep well, you beautiful young woman.

By Jeliwobble (not verified) on 27 Feb 2015 #permalink

Again, my comments are generalized. I'm not trying to pick apart Orac's post. I'm not arguing that it isn't legitimate.

I'm saying that Jess's choices were legitimate too. And with the wealth of information on the internet, including these conversations. People can make their own decisions about their health.

I don't personally agree with certain sentiments of the Gerson method... like their advocacy against conventional medicine. But a lot of people, who are very sick or dying, find comfort under their umbrella. And have made up their minds to be there. Often an approach that lacks an attempt at understanding a patient will result in them turning away from the person who is shouting at them, telling them that their beliefs are wrong. For integration of conventional and alternative to occur and for people to be helped truly, there needs to be a level of respect and understanding of the beliefs of others. Why are they so opposed to doctors and how can doctors make them feel more comfortable integrating conventional medicine? Shouting at people and calling them quacks is just going to make them more defensive and resistant.

The reason I said to remove the word 'Gerson' was because if you do, it essentially is a practice of a healthful life... and sick and dying people have found a community that they feel safe in... and maybe if you removed the word you could see that. I was not directing this comment at Orac's post, but as part of the conversation.

@Hollie,

Both western medicine and alternative medicine can work together.

If you want a real discussion of that, could you please be a little more specific? In particular:
What alternative medicine?
For what condition or conditions?
What benefits does it provide?
How do you know?

Thanks.

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

The reason I said to remove the word ‘Gerson’ was because if you do, it essentially is a practice of a healthful life

Well, not exactly. As I said before, Ainscough advocated more quackery than just the Gerson protocol. She was into all sorts of "detoxification" quackery and advocated eating clay. Gerson was just the most glaring and harmful example. So, no, just removing the "Gerson" label, as inappropriate and deceptive as that would be, is not enough to legitimize what Ainscough sold.

For example, check out this post by Jess about doing the Gerson protocol after getting home from the Gerson Clinic in Tijuana:

I’ve had a couple of people ask me to write out a “day in the life” type post outlining a day of the Gerson Therapy. Oh how sorry you will be! Just kidding. I guess this will give you an idea of what the program entails on an hourly basis – even if you do nod off just reading about the sheer monotony of my days.

When I first got home from the Gerson clinic, it was extremely overwhelming. At the clinic we had everything done for us by the lovely Mexican doctors, nurses and kitchen staff. Here at home, it’s all up to my family and I. Saying that, I am incredibly lucky to have such an amazing family. Mum gave up work so that she could be my full-time carer. She does all the shopping, food preparation and some of the juices. I seriously don’t know how she does it. On weekends my dad and boyfriend are usually home so we have extra help.

7am: drag myself out of bed and meditate
7.30am: first coffee enema for the day
8am: breakfast (orange juice and oats with honey, banana, raisins and kiwi fruit)
9am: green juice
9.30am: carrot and apple juice
10am: carrot and apple juice, work on blog and other writing bits and pieces
11am: carrot juice, work on blog and other writing bits and pieces
12pm: green juice, coffee enema #2
1pm: carrot and apple juice, lunch (soup, salad, veggies, potato), watch a bit of Oprah while we eat
2pm: green juice, do more writing
3pm: carrot juice, yoga
4pm: carrot juice, take my dog for a walk
5pm: carrot and apple juice, meditate
6pm: carrot and apple juice, coffee enema #3
7pm: green juice, dinner (soup, salad, veggies, potato)
8pm: watch a bit of TV or read in bed
10pm: sleep

Every day is exactly the same as the one before, except on Tuesday and Thursday morning I take castor oil. Until recently I was doing five coffee enemas a day. I fit them in at 7.30am, 10.30am, 2pm, 6pm and 9pm. Pretty exciting stuff, huh. The one thing that is pushing me through the therapy is the thought of how amazing it will be once I finish. I doubt I will know what to do with myself. I don’t even remember what it’s like to be able to leave the house for more than an hour without worrying about juices or enemas. That day will be here before I know it though. It’s hard to believe I’m already three months in to the program. I’ve got 15 to go. Come on 15th October 2011!

For more information about the Gerson Therapy go to www.gerson.org or follow them on Twitter @GersonInstitute

Positive affirmation for the day: I am at choice today. I accept the responsibility of my life with a new sense of maturity, confidence and excitement.

That's right, five coffee enemas a day.

Alright, Gerson has its ( only) " Health Centre" located outside of Budapest, Hungary where patients pay 6900 euros for a 2 week stay and are told to bring along a companion for support ( @ 500 euros).
The US branch is for "educational" purposes..

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 27 Feb 2015 #permalink

Yes, I could not agree more with the sentiment, "If not now, when?"

Saying her death was tragic, and mourning it because of all of her positive attributes that she brought to the world, is entirely consistent with condemning the anti-scientific choices that lead to her death, and trying to save others from making the same ones through misinformation.

By Roadstergal (not verified) on 27 Feb 2015 #permalink

It’s not like she was sacrificing donkeys and dancing around in a pentagram at midnight.

I don't see how this is a meaningful distinction--after all, there's just as reason to believe that animal sacrifice and sacred dance would be effective treatments for her cancer as there is to believe that the Gerson protocol would be: neither have any evidence in support of their efficacy.

" It is a fine line between when to give up on the natural medicine and go with the other option."

No, all too often it is not a fine line and that one should stay the course of whatever alternative you choose and expect or demand that science-based medicine pull you back from the brink when you finally give in and go to the person who had the tools to save your life several years ago.

Often the choices made at the very beginning of the treatment journey are the ones that determine the end point. You can't always just change tracks years later when you finally decided that maybe things aren't going the way you thought they would.

Treating an early and treatable cancer is not just a hair's breadth from waiting until you are being offered a space in hospice to attempt a hail Mary. They are miles apart in both thought process and results.

Science does say live as healthy a life as possible, eat your veggies, get your exercise, reduce stress, get your sleep, etc. It should delay when something is going to break. It will not prevent all breaks nor will it fix them all by itself.

Living as healthy as possible (see above) while getting appropriate treatment may be very helpful, but is not the same as getting the treatment at the appropriate time in the appropriate doses. Often the difference between who lives and who dies is who is strong enough to withstand the treatment needed to save your life. Can we get all the doses you need in, can you survive the surgery, etc.

If people focused on supporting the health of those getting the treatment they need instead of telling them you should wait as long as possible and try everything else first we'd probably have much better outcomes.

The main problem I have with too many promoging the "do it naturally until the line is crossed" is they specifically and deliberately direct people away from doing what is effective. They say you can wait. They tell you that supporting your health by natural means is completely null and void if you dare to take the treatment the doctor's offer. Yes, even if you want to take what the doctor offers eating your veggies and getting sleep counts. It is not useless if you dare to let some of the effective treatment in.

Then when people crawl in at the end of life when all there is to do is ease their pain they complain how modern medicine is the only thing that failed them when they were told what they needed to do and when they needed to do it and thought they knew better.

Gosh I got a lot angrier as i went along than I intended when I started out.

And yes, I fully support your autonomy as a patient to do whatever you want to do to your body, mind and soul. Just don't pretend that you can change your mind at any time and the results will be the same. How many people have to walk the same path with the same results before people are OK with putting up the "warning bridge out this way leads to death" sign up.

Jess came to live next door to me over two years ago and I observed her decline with sadness . Initially she was riding the crest of the wave of fame and fortune . I was often bemused to see film crews and stylists turn up for photo shoots creating a seemingly idyllic lifestyle for few hours . The reality was quite different .
I have been following this blog since the beginning but felt it inappropriate to comment until now .
kudos to oracs frank and informative posts .
point being too many people are being conned .. . Just about anybody can hang out a shingle saying healer these days asking a fortune for snake oil . . .
orac is quite right to state her professional opinion thank goodness someone cares enough to share the facts with us .
Jess was a lovely young women and my heart goes out to the family .
Such a complicated tradgedy .
In the end though I think a lot of people learned an awful lot and we can thank her for that .
She had courage .
Her charisma never faded , her love and light shone right to the end . . .
Bless jess . .

nancy d,

She made money off selling and promoting Gerson therapy--amongst other nonsense--to hopeless people desperate for a cure.

She made money off of publicity tours in which she denied the fungating tumors on her rapidly growing disfigured arm where because her cancer was progressing.

There is no comfort here. If it was for herself, FINE. You don't seem to get that. She made money off of promoting what is essentially expensive torture to dying people. Oh, and the best part? When it doesn't work, the promoters of this nonsense state that it was YOUR fault. You did something wrong. So add in guilt to that.

Don't claim autonomy then try and say we're misunderstanding when the flaws in that statement are pointed out. Jess was taken advantage of, but then turned around and took advantage of others, then HID when she started to progress and had to turn to doctors.

Here's some interesting reading: https://rosaliehilleman.wordpress.com/2014/02/21/the-wellness-warrior-d…

I am willing to chalk it up to desperation and delusion, however she didn't need to sell that to other people, and the people who had her so hopelessly convinced need to be taken to task.

By Frequent Lurker (not verified) on 27 Feb 2015 #permalink

Someone wrote: "And for the sake of decency, your self promoting article comes a bit early, don’t you think? A sense of taste would not be missed if you waited a week before promoting how much you think you know"

I am not sure who/how decided that a week is the right waiting time. What about 10 days? Or 5. Or 1000 hours for that matter. Facts are facts, 5 minutes or 5 years after her death. The earlier people find out about it, the better ... those with cancer will know to avoid quacks/crooks.

I am the widow of a breast cancer victim. As my wifes' advocate, we looked at alternative therapies...for about ten seconds. Conventional therapy was grueling, but it did give my wife a few more very good years.

I think Orac is correct with the timing of this blog. I believe this is just the tip of the iceberg. I believe thousands of others suffer the same fate as Jessica every year- we just don't hear about them. And we should. A lot more lives would be saved.

Widower. Sorry. Still not used to that label.

I’m saying that Jess’s choices were legitimate too. And with the wealth of information on the internet, including these conversations.

Her choice was legitimate, granted, as far as choice can be. That doesn not argue that choice was wise, correct, or something to be respected and celebrated. It certainly doesn't argue that she was not doing harm if encouraging others to make the same or a similar 'legitimate' choice.
And by promoting Gerson's protocol that was in fact what she was doing.

As for there being a wealth of information on the internet, there's also a weallth of mis-information to be found there as well. Such misinformation-such as any suggestion that the Gerson protocol has been found to be an effective treatment for any cancer--demands being addressed.

I’m saying that Jess’s choices were legitimate too.

Her choices have killed at least two people, Jess and her mother. I'm not as kind as Orac; to turn your back on medical treatment for yourself is one thing, to encourage others to do so is not legitimate, it's horseshit.

You should be ashamed of yourself for the judgement and lack of respect for this courageous woman who has every right to make any decision she wants about her body, as did Brittany Maynard when she chose to end her life instead of die a horrible painful death. She's dead. Leave her alone.

I also want to write in to say we are perfectly within our rights to judge others for their actions. I would judge someone who is endangering their child. I would judge someone who endangers herself. We judge people on poor choices all the time. It's how we keep our own selves in line. It doesn't mean we should discriminate against them or treat them badly, but why on earth would it be any different for this young woman? Why shouldn't we learn from her tragedy?

I sincerely hope that no one from Jessica's family has to see these words that are written here. She had a right, as we all do, to choose how she responded to her illness. She was also willing to share her own personal struggle with her followers honestly and transparently, which is a courageous act if I have ever seen one. Without choosing a side here, I beg that you all be so careful of the words you write and speak. All opinions about her treatment plan aside, it is heartbreaking to see her life and work summarized and trivialized like this. I cannot even imagine how much pain would be added to the grief of any family, friends and supporters who might come across this entry. And to the person who wrote this, I hope that one day you will be able to reflect on the words you wrote and see how far-reaching their consequences are. And I hope when you do, that you will have the courage to forgive yourself for writing them. Love to all.

By Katherine Rudman (not verified) on 27 Feb 2015 #permalink

How can you be so quick to judge, and say people who choose natural healthy, are headed for preventable death. You can't predict the future, it sounds like she did chemo, and other treatments at the beginning.. And maybe having them cut off an arm isn't an option.. And if they would have tried other methods more intensively maybe she would have died years ago and her "natural" diet keep her alive longer.. Just bc someone dies doesnt mean it didnt work.. Curing cancer/tumors if like fixing shattered glass, our best method is to not break the glass to begin with prevention with a plant based diet

The 'argument' that she had a right to opt for alternative treatment and subsequently endorse it publicly is not an argument at all... not one that anyone here is engaging in anyway. I have a right to drink paint-thinner as any observers would have the right to criticize that choice. It's defensive, emotionally motivated, and an attempt to change the conversation.

Just bc someone dies doesnt mean it didnt work.

Um, yes it does. If the intent of the treatment is to save the patient and the patient dies, the treatment didn't work. I'd say that's one big difference between "alternative" medicine and science-based medicine. When our patients die of their cancer, we admit that we failed to save them, that the treatment didn't work. We know that no treatment is 100% effective, and for some cancers the odds of saving the patient are less than 50-50. We accept that and try to do better. And then we try to do better again. And again.

In the alternative realm, however, we see nonsense like, "Just because someone dies doesn't mean it didn't work," to which I retort, "No, that's exactly what it means. It didn't work."

It’s incredibly distasteful to post a ‘told you so’ commentary at this juncture. It was her path and her choice. If other people chose to listen to her along the way- then it was *drum toll* their choice.

No, this is incredibly distasteful. It's not her fault if people believed her? Tra-la-la and caveat emptor, quit spoiling the illusion?

“I realized I was more than a ‘cancer success story’ — I was a leader, a role model, an educator, and a champion.”

It is truly amazing to see Jess' supporters all ignore the blatant fact that Jess didn't just choose a course and quietly adhere to it. She encouraged others to embark upon her quackery and lied about her deteriorating condition in order to sell her brand. And in the face of her demise, still hand-waving that fact away and pretending she was just selling health and wellness. My sympathies to her family and hope this serves as a cautionary tale; no one here is gloating over her death.

By Science Mom (not verified) on 27 Feb 2015 #permalink

I usually never give my opinion, but today I can't keep silent. I am a holistic practitioner that can't speak my truth because big pharma is trying the best to keep me Silent! First I must say that my heart goes out to Jessica and her family and may she and her mother rest in peace. My prayer is that others will see her courage! She lived on her own terms. As far as the Gerson Therapy, I must defend it! When my mother was given to weeks to live with Brain Cancer (mind you were thrown out of the hospital because my mother refused Chemo) that Therapy prolong my mother's life for a year without the vegetative state the Chemo surely would have put her in. She was happy, alert and SHE said she wanted to go to Heaven. The next week she was gone she was at home and NOT in a hospital, just as she wanted. My dad was also diagnosed with cancer refused ALL CONVENTIONAL TREATMENT, followed the Gerson and is alive and well today almost ten years later and has not had a cold!!! I have had SEVERAL CLIENTS TO FOLLOW Gerson and other programs as such and all are alive. My love ones who went conventional (chemo, surgery and radiation) are ALL DEAD WITH THE EXCEPT OF one and she wants to die from the treatment. Now what is quackery?? It not for me to judge, it is only the right of the person who is faced with this terrible decision. I lived it every day and not from some subjective blog, but from the day to day of clients clinging to life. How dare anyone judge this beautiful courageous young woman for executing her God give right of choice! The loss of her mom could have easily ignited that cancer, but only God knows and it not for me to say.......but call the Gerson quackery if you like, my dad is alive because of it and has ALL of his body parts that he was born with. No let me get back to spreading the message of health through Natural Healing....PEACE OUT!!!!

Jess was "open and transparent?"

No, she wasn't. Even she finally had to admit (through much editing of her website and Facebook account) that she wasn't "getting better" and she wasn't Cancer-free.

If anything, she was completely opaque for a number of years as to her condition - hiding her arm from photos, for instance & ignoring any and all questions about her health (other than it was great).

I'm sorry - but you can't change the fact that Jess wasn't honest.

Let us not judge. Let us pray as we remember and honor this special woman.

@13 "With the greatest respect to you and your expertise, I feel this post should have waited a little while. Jess probably has not even had a memorial service held for her yet, therefore releasing this post so quickly is rather insensitive."

Patrick Swayze died of pancreatic cancer on September 14, 2009.

The dogpile of quacks claiming it was the chemo that killed him, and theat their brand of quackery could have cured him started ...
September 15, 2009 with something from Mike Adams.

By Tsu Dho Nimh (not verified) on 27 Feb 2015 #permalink

She was also willing to share her own personal struggle with her followers honestly and transparently, which is a courageous act if I have ever seen one.

I'm sorry, but I'm not seeing a lot of honest or transparent sharing. She allowed herself to identified in the media as someone who had beaten her cancer; as her disease progressed she did disclose the full extent of its impact until her health deteriorated to the extent that she began having to withdraw from planned events that she was forced to admit to her followers the rosy picture of success she presented(and marketed) wasn''t quite what it seemed; she did her best to avoid the publication of any photographs which showed her affected arm.

All the while maintaining that she was both "living and thriving with or without cancer". Living, perhaps. Thriving? No so much.

Above should read "she did not disclose the full extent of its impact"

In California where I live, the unfortunate conventional wisdom is that if you eat right and do the "natural" thing then cancer will pass you by.
In the hospital bed circling the drain from leukemia I was subjected to sympathy and a little shaming for going the chemotherapy route when a few more carrots, supplements, herbs or a visit to the right guru would help me more. It was implied by a few old friends and siblings that perhaps some behavior or food in the past precipitated cancer. At that time, John Mackey the CEO of Whole Foods implied that no one needs health care when you got Whole Foods.
The cancer diagnosis brought a flood of bad advice. Being the habitual critical thinker I was better able to sort through the pile and choose a few good oncologists. The experience left me more than a little angry at all the quacks who crawled off the wall.
Good for you Orac. You did no wrong with your timing. It was no miracle that I am alive five years later, It was good medicine. Thanks for the work you do.

By Mike Callahan (not verified) on 27 Feb 2015 #permalink

Dear Orac,

I first stumbled across your blog when I was deciding whether or not to do chemo. Or maybe it was shortly after I had started, but either way, I was very insecure with my decision at the time.

Your initial post about Jess Ainscough (and her mother) enthralled me. It then led me to posts about Chris Wark, et al. I spent hours upon hours every night, reading past posts. Everything you wrote made complete sense.
Please, keep doing what you're doing, Orac. You may have saved my life. You definitely saved my sanity. I am eternally grateful. I just thought today would be an apt day to share my story, and hopefully warm the cockles of those multicoloured blinky lights a bit, in the midst of all this flak. Thank you again.

Sincerely,

A now 31 year-old former breast cancer patient, hoping to remain so.

I know more than a few people who have gone down the conventional care route for a variety of Cancers....with a single exception, all of those individuals are alive and well today.

I'll take conventional medicine any day of the week.

If she had managed to find some non-SBM medical treatment that had cured her, I'm suspect all or most that frequent this blog would have been quite happy for her, rather feeling, as one commentator wrote, "jealousy" or any other negative emotion.

I don't have any personal problem with the decision she made re: amputation ... I likely would have done the same.

But I do think it's a shame that she spent the final years of her life peddling woo that might have persuaded someone with an otherwise SBM treatable cancer to follow the unicorn route to its inevitable, and their earlier than necessary, end.

I am a holistic practitioner that can’t speak my truth because big pharma is trying the best to keep me Silent!

They came to your house and took away your PC?

I am a holistic practitioner that can’t speak my truth because big pharma is trying the best to keep me Silent!

You know, for the pharma shill that alternative medicine practitioners frequently accuse me of being, I'm doing a damned horrible job of keeping Pam B. silent. I mean, she's a new commenter; so her comment went into automatic moderation, as all comments from first-time commenters do. All I would have had to do would have been not to approve her comment, and she'd be silenced. Yet I approved it.

My pharma master Lord Draconis Zeneca will be displeased.

Another reason for not 'waiting" an unspecified period to comment on this sad news, is the unlikelihood that there will be an accurate public accounting of what led to this unfortunate woman's death. If the past is any guide, there will either be a resounding silence, or the evidence-based therapy she received years ago will be blamed.

I've run into criticism before from supporters of woo, who didn't like my responding immediately and negatively to promotion of a dangerously toxic herbal product. Unbelievably, I was scolded for not allowing the discussion to proceed for an unspecified length of time before putting the kibosh on harmful advice. I don't know how long critics feel Orac should have waited before following up on a story he has covered extensively, but I agree that what's really aggravating them is that he commented at all (and in a respectful manner at that - it's not as if he barged into the funeral service to condemn quackery). Now is definitely the best time to comment in this forum, while the story is still fresh in people's minds (and while the "Wellness Warrior"'s adherents are busy making excuses and promoting the same deeply flawed ideology that threatens impressionable people with curable diseases).

Fiona: "Jess may have lived a short life, but one that has impacted thousands"

And that's the problem - there may well be thousands of people believing in the "Wellness Warrior"'s claims, who even now will choose cancer quackery for themselves, and worse, for their children.

By Dangerous Bacon (not verified) on 27 Feb 2015 #permalink

How can I put this simply:
Freedom of speech is not freedom from criticism.
Freedom of choice is not freedom from consequences.

By Gray Falcon (not verified) on 27 Feb 2015 #permalink

Lawrence@41:

Lots of new faces here desperate to canonize Jess & preserve her “legacy” it seems

That's because Jess's death is a terrible betrayal of the irrational belief system upon which their own egos are built. It's infinitely easier for True Believers to displace all their rage and fear onto external villains, real or perceived, than contemplate the awful alternative: that their shared beliefs is Wrong, and their complicity in sharing, spreading, and reinforcing those beliefs amongst themselves (and to others) makes them to a degree complicit in her death as well.

True friends would've worked tirelessly to rescue Jess from her own self-deception and ultimate self-destruction through endless love and cold hard truths. These helicopter trolls are just paranoid narcissists running damage control on the powerful quasi-religious delusion that she and they all worked so hard for so many years to build up into what it is today. May Orac and others continue putting the boot to that malignant lie, so that at least this poor, frightened woman's final legacy is not the deaths of others too.

Amazing how anyone who profits from the profession of poisoning sick individuals screams quackery at an effective treatment such as the Gerson therapy or others. It, like any other healing therapy, is not perfect nor effective every time. Amazing how such "educated" folk continue to sell the "your sick, let me poison you" routine. Cancer does not just jump into ones body from elsewhere, it is the body expressing a symptom of a larger issue. But give it a name so you can "fight " it and make a great sum of money from "treating" it while filling the coffers and coffins. Keep propping yourselves up on all the death you alone create and continue to enjoy your unique blindness.

By This Texan (not verified) on 27 Feb 2015 #permalink

My condolences to Jess's father who has lost his wife and his daughter to cancer. I have no condolences for the quacks who continue to push their unproven cancer "treatments".

Jess Ainscough has died because she made the decision to not undergo the radical surgery which would have given her a chance to survive. Her cancer diagnosis was years ago and the indolence of her particular type of cancer, permitted her to reflect on her decision to not agree to the amputation of her arm and her shoulder joint...but it also afforded her the opportunity to become an alternative medicine celebrity and to develop her "brand".

Thanks Orac, for this posting about cancer quackery.

Jess did her homework and made HER decision how to tackle the fight of her life, something I believe we all have a right to do if we are put in such a position. Clearly you are an expert on cancer and also clear that unless people don't treat THEIR cancer the way you feel is best then you will tear them apart on social media...nothing short of a low life who could learn a lot from those having a go and doing what they can to survive. You're one disrespectful lowlife ....the truth is she had cancer, who the hell do you think you are to degrade those who don't treat their cancer the way you would... look forward to seeing you on ACA to explain your lack of respect for others.

She passed away from cancer yes. Her mother died a year ago. She had been in remission for a long time. Her natural cures are not what killed her! Many have gone the natural route and have come out clean and healthy as my grandmother did from colon cancer. She is alive and well. This women died from a loss and a sadness from her mother not being here any longer. If her mother was alive she would be alive. When the soul is ready to go..it will go. Women die everyday after having their breast removed and have radiation done to them. Of course someone in the medical field would write something like this and make it seem as though it is all witchcraft to eat your way to health. I once dated a "Doctor" who was So unhealthy ate junk all the time, and found out he was addicted to pills.. Most doctors don't know the first thing about health and eating right to care for your body. But they know how to write up those pill prescriptions for ya! It's huge money in the medical field and there are many who misdiagnose everyday. Not saying all are bad, but we all know many are lost in the hands of doctors ever day! Food today is not meant to be healthy for you it's meant to kill you so the Big Boys' can sit back and collect their checks from your sickness. If everyone never ate sugar, prepackaged foods, just whole foods with one word.. like potato, rice, apple, ect.. and did not smoke, and lead healthy lives.. doctors would basically be out of business unless you had some broken bones. Heal yourself from within, it is true what we eat we become. Some do get diseases and die. But who are we to say why..perhaps that soul was done with it's life work here on earth and was ready to go. Stay healthy people and eat right because it does matter!!! RIP Jessica..you did good here on earth and we thank you..:)

By Christine Marlowe (not verified) on 27 Feb 2015 #permalink

Amanda @95 gets my nod for comment of the day, if there were such an honor.

31 year-old cancer survivor Amanda reminds us why calling out bogus therapies is worthwhile, as well as why Orac was right to post this today and not next week or next month.

Thank you, Amanda.

By CTGeneGuy (not verified) on 27 Feb 2015 #permalink

@has - I agree with you.

"How can you be so quick to judge, and say people who choose natural healthy, are headed for preventable death. You can’t predict the future.."
Just cause prediction is not perfect does not show using evidence in decision making is useless.

Going through the wrong door on your own is your own business, but holding it open for others, and saying they should go this way too, is wicked. Sincere beliefs do not excuse error that harms others. The "Road to Hell" is paved with such beliefs. (Disclaim: I'm not religious.)

@ Orac

I see that Jess used the word 'cured' inappropriately and made money off that. That is definitely not something to be condoned. When it comes to Gerson, I agree with you, coffee enemas all day long and eating clay don't seem logically beneficial to any sort of healing.

But you say: 'Jess and Sharyn Ainscough were also just as much victims as any other cancer patient who chooses alternative medicine quackery... '

Lumping alternative medicine into your argument against Gerson therapy. And implying that alt-med believers are quacks.

There is no cure for cancer, conventional or alternative. It is not well understood. Healthy people get it, unhealthy people get it. People do the best they can to battle the infliction. Some pull through, some are unlucky... but alternative medicine has a legitimate place in what people choose. Conventional medicine was once the alternative medicine... often cruel innovation that we were able to learn from over the years. 'Alt-med quackery' is contributing a lot to our medical databases in its bringing to light all sorts of plant therapies that are being picked up and marketed by the pharmaceutical sector... including and especially oncology. The 'quacks' have brought to light the benefits of turmeric, ginger, reishi mushrooms etc... and the pharmaceutical companies are going to profit immensely from all of this.

A lot of people would rather risk earlier death than the known side effects of drug and radiation therapies. That's a choice... and I don't think its our place to 'feel sorry' for them because we believe they made the wrong choice. We don't know what the outcome would have been in any other scenario...

There is no cure for cancer, conventional or alternative.

You're correct about the latter, at least.

I saw this on Facebook. All I can say is what I posted on Facebook..

The problem is she didn't just do something to herself. She encouraged others to do the same. How many will die because of her doing that?

Take your own private journey to death if you want, do not bring others with you because they will cling to any hope to live through a scary disease.

How about the loved ones that will lose those she will bring down with her? Those are the people that won't rest. The dead are dead, they are "resting" forever. The loved ones left are the ones that don't rest and fight to find peace.

As a person with a sister that has now had Hodgkins, breast, cervical and skin cancer and some of those cancers were due to the treatment for the Hodgkins.. I'll judge her and others that promote this crap, every time.

My sister has fought hard, tough battles for many years, she is just the type these people go after and can be successful with.

I'll judge her, she and others like her are a danger to MY loved one.

The reason Orac is commenting on Jess Ainscough's death at all, in and of itself (*), is because she set herself up as a public figure (the "Wellness Warrior") who deliberately promoted among the rankest of rank quackeries and who deliberately downplayed the effects of the cancer on her arm.

That is also the reason why now is the perfect time for Orac to bring it up.

(*) Instead of, say, as part of a post condemning a cancer quack (e.g. something to the effect of "among this Gerson-protocol-promoter's victims was a Jess Ainscough").

By Composer99 (not verified) on 27 Feb 2015 #permalink

The ‘quacks’ have brought to light the benefits of turmeric, ginger, reishi mushrooms etc

nancy, What are those benefits specifically, and how were they "brought to light?"

@Nancy - you are incorrect. Several pediatric Cancers can now be cured, and the HPV Vaccine can prevent cervical cancer in the future.

So, tell us again which "alternative" treatments have been shown to cure Cancer?

@ Narad

The body's ability to produce cancer cells is intrinsic. Therefore cancer cannot be cured by our current medical capabilities. Treated, sure. But not cured.

@Tess

you will tear them apart on social media

Exactly how did Orac "tear [Jess] apart on social media"?

@nancy - once again, you are incorrect.

Since you have no idea what the current state of Cancer treatment is, of course you would try to misrepresent it.

@nancy d

The body’s ability to produce cancer cells is intrinsic.

Yes and no. Some cancers are due to random mutations in native genes that cause cells to proliferate uncontrollably. Other cancers are caused by extrinsic things (e.g., HPV-caused cancers, mesothelioma due to asbestos, etc.). And, yes, some cancers can be cured. Leukemia, for instance, or certain breast cancers.

What a nasty and entirely unecessary post. People can join dots well enough. This is all ego and serves no purpose outside your own need to be right. I suggest you remove it in respect for the deceased.

has@102 -- I think that's a very astute reading.

To me, Orac's piece is full of sadness and sympathy for this poor young woman, but also a realistic view of how poor her choices were.

And I though Amanda's comment @95 was very moving, and showed that Orac's blogging hobby is actually saving some lives. Maybe more than he saves on the operating table, even.

By palindrom (not verified) on 27 Feb 2015 #permalink

@ AdamG

If you did a search for pier-reviewed articles on any medical database (e.g.: pub med or even NEJM website) you would find that there is a lot of research being done on food and herb therapies that cultures have been using for centuries that have recently been popularized by the quacks of alternative medicine... leading to independent unregulated companies making a lot of money off such supplements. The drug companies catch on and make a lot of money (but at least this way the manufacture is regulated. Two big more recent examples are ginger for nausea and senna as a laxative. Now there's a lot of money in cancer drugs and research on many levels... including curcumin and reishi mushroom to fight cancer. These are just a few examples. And if it weren't for the popularizing of these potential medicines by the quacks, the research probably wouldn't be funded.

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.

In general, with recurrence, does amputation keep cancer from recurring yet again? Amputation seems like a radical step to take if there's little to no chance of a cure.

By Xplodyncow (not verified) on 27 Feb 2015 #permalink

Therefore cancer cannot be cured by our current medical capabilities.

I will pass that along to my #3 brother. Evidently whatever he's been enjoying for the past 30 years isn't a cure.

nancy d: " Therefore cancer cannot be cured by our current medical capabilities."

But they can be prevented. The HepB and HPV vaccines prevent cancer. Limiting exposure to sunlight and smoking can prevent cancer.

Though eating special foods and shoving coffee up one's bum does prevent cancer.

Nancy D.. I have to disagree. My uncle, one of about 10 in experimental treatment for Hodgkins, approximately 60 or a little more years ago, when he was 19, was cured. He outlived all his doctors but one, his last one. My uncle died a few months ago, in his early 80's due to prostate cancer he developed 10 years ago and elected to not undergo any more treatment.

Stage 4, paralyzed by tumors on his spine. A horrible experimental treatment of basically mustard gas and radiation. That experimental treatment has a lot to do with the treatment for Hodgkins today.

Hodgkins is very curable and thought by many, if you must have cancer, that is the one to have. Even many breast cancers are curable, as all breast cancer is not the same.

I think it's right that you posted this article straight away. People will have more chance of stumbling across it immediately after Jess' death as they will be googling her name. If you'd waited a week less people would have seen it. Nothing can help Jess and her mother now but your article may just save someone elses life.

Yeah, she died because of the lifestyle she chose. Because no one ever dies doing chemo right? lol

Re: #120 Ooops. Didn't mean to post that here. My apologies.

By SelenaWolf (not verified) on 27 Feb 2015 #permalink

"Show some respect"

Like the respect she showed to other cancer patients by hawking sham treatments? Christ, she had a hand in killing her own mother by steering her towards quackery, why should anyone respect that?

@Xplodyncow

In general, with recurrence, does amputation keep cancer from recurring yet again? Amputation seems like a radical step to take if there’s little to no chance of a cure.

I suppose it would depend on whether or not any of the tumor cells escaped the area to be amputated. If all of the cancerous cells were within the area that gets amputated, I imagine that the cancer would be unlikely to recur. The type of cancer would probably also play a role in whether it would recur or not.

@Todd W. Thanks for your response! I would think that if cancer has recurred, it's probably spread too, even if metastases are initially undetectable. So why amputate if cancer is no longer in only one limb? Of course, my assumption could be completely wrong -- I was just wondering whether there are data showing that amputation after recurrence really does prevent another recurrence.

Also, @Amanda (#95) -- best comment ever. Congrats on beating your cancer. I hope you stay in remission forever.

By Xplodyncow (not verified) on 27 Feb 2015 #permalink

RIP beautiful Jess. Nothing prepared me for what I knew was coming.

To those who are saying that freedom of speech, freedom of choice trumps all, please remember that a person's freedom ends when it impacts others. So, the 'others' also have the same freedoms? Yes, but when they are at their lowest and vulnerable as most with a cancer diagnosis are, they may take on board anything that offers hope. I know this. I have cancer.

I hung to every word Jess said for months when I was diagnosed and from my personal experience, I can tell you that I felt so guilty and inadequate. These two emotions are detrimental for anyone, let alone for someone fighting cancer. Why did I feel like this?, Well, here was this beautiful girl with an incredible glow who claimed she cured herself of cancer by using alternative and natural methods. Mind you, there was little natural about coffee enemas, castor oil and a handful of supplements that were part of Gerson and here I was, a bald, yellow looking, aching, febrile mess that couldn't even look in the mirror. Yes, I felt guilty, there was no way I could afford the truckload of organic foods and being able to stop working which is necessary to follow the barbaric regime that is Gerson. Yes, I felt inadequate to the point of depression.

That is the effect being a follower of Jess's blog had on me. My bad, right?. I was big and ugly enough to make my own choices, I had my freedoms, right? NO, I had cancer and wanted to kick cancer's arse, just like Jess was doing. I recall one comment I made on her blog about the awful effects I was having on chemo, I have HER2 breast cancer, which is considered aggressive so the big guns come out and the chemo regime is also aggressive. Her reply was that I should embrace my cancer, learn from it, meditate my way through it, detox my body and in time the cancer will behave and I can continue living this new healthy lifestyle I discovered. But hang on.. I have kids, I don't have the luxury of time with the form of cancer I have.

I know that we each have our choices to make and live by and its not to say that Jess's followers will embrace her choices but when aided by credulous reporting as Orac rightly points out, there may be a percentage of people in her 68K tribe that may very well be misguided. For me, it was how she portrayed her cancer kicking regime that filled me with guilt and sadness that I couldn't, just couldn't, do the same.

I truly believe Jess is not to be blamed for the most part, it is the likes of snake oil charlatans like Charlotte Gerson and her obnoxious son that should take the hit. I tried to have an open mind about their therapy but in every video I saw with them, they always sounded so condescending.

Fast forward 2 years and I thank my awesome medical team, the toxins they pumped through my port, the surgery and the radiation that at worst have allowed me to see my first grandchild being born and at worst, gives me time to annoy her in her teen years. What will my scans show next week? Fingers crossed.

Jess, the Wellness Warrior - you tried - RIP

2nd that "most important post" goes to Amanda @95. This is exactly why this blog is so critical.

One of my best friends has Stage IV peritoneal cancer. She's 29 years old, had to have a hysterectomy and has been through chemo, radiation and now is in a clinical trial at MD Anderson. I'm really afraid for her, but look up to her tremendously, as she has used her situation to educate others on rare gynecological cancers and support LEGITIMATE cancer research. No, the treatment is NOT easy, but she is alive and continues to trust in the professionals at Anderson who have devoted their lives to the practice of oncology. She is not so arrogant to assume that she can know better than her doctors by "doing her homework" on the internet.

Thanks Orac, you are truly providing a public service with this blog.

I wasn't bothered enough to finish reading this blog however I do need to say this, well done Jess! What a fight, you lived the same years as conventional medicine had estimated to give you and you did it in health and spirit conventional medicine could not dream of providing. My thoughts are with the family.

It's tempting to say she did the wrong thing by following alternative medicine, and we must not forget that thousands of cancer patients also die after having done the conventional chemotherapy and radiation - but no article is ever written about them and their choices

By Marguerite (not verified) on 27 Feb 2015 #permalink

This is awful
All your posts on jess have been.
Everyone is entilted to their chosen form of healing.
I am a nurse & have watched the same happen to young lives in hospital time after time.
Jess brought far more happiness & love to the world then this page of medical negativity

Jess was my dear friend and colleague. Please read my tribute so as to make a more informed, compassionate understanding of her plight.
http://bit.ly/1zMSsQF

By Samantha Gowing (not verified) on 27 Feb 2015 #permalink

People accusing Orac of being mean-spirited should probably look at Delia's spiteful snipe and decide which qualifies better.

Delia:

No one who advocates science-based medicine and condemns quackery (such as the Gerson protocol) denies that there are risks to chemotherapy (and other treatments for cancer), up to and including death.

However, we also recognise that these risks must be weighed against the mortality/morbidity risks of untreated cancer and the benefits of chemotherapy resulting from successfully treating the cancer.

Many of the diatribes I have read about chemotherapy suggest that promoters of quackery, fellow travelers, and apologists don't bother with the second part.

By Composer99 (not verified) on 27 Feb 2015 #permalink

Ditto Amanda #95

Except for the number in your last sentence!

Orac is my virtual hero.

And this is why I hate alt-med quackery so much. Look at the Dunning-Kruger candidates attacking Orac without even so much as a shred of evidence that their quack claims are feasible or plausible.

Delia

Yeah, she died because of the lifestyle she chose. Because no one ever dies doing chemo right? lol

She died because of cancer.

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

I believe she was told the removal of her arm would only give her a little more time, not "cure" her, instead she decided to live a different path and for it she was able to enjoy a few more years. She made the right decision for her.

By Michelle Gray (not verified) on 27 Feb 2015 #permalink

What a beautiful soul.
Jess made her choices and encouraged others to make decisions for themselves.

It's too bad that this young woman lost her life by choosing to follow quackery instead of science. I feel for her family, and wish them peace

I also hope that this preventable death dissuades others from following in her footsteps

Jess lied about the success of her treatments, intentionally lied and made money off the suckers.

Just one of many real examples, many years ago a pharmacist diluted chemo medication that his pharmacy in a professional building, sold to a few oncologists.

Many patients ended up dying, when they should have lived. When all was said and done, the pharmacist went to prison, among many other things.

What happens to known deceivers like Jess that lie to others? If one family, one single family, loses a loved one due to Jess intentionally lying to other sick people, she hasn't paid a price high enough and there is no one to hold her or others accountable, like they did the pharmacist.

I took this from a blog post I read ages ago on Lorna Jane's Move Nourish Believe site
"MNB: What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Don’t do things (like juicing, meditating, eat healthy etc.) out of fear of dying, do things because you love yourself so much that you want to live. Anita Moorjani who wrote Dying To Be Me said this to me and it rocked my world in the best possible way."
For those of us who have actually followed and been inspired by, we can make educated and informed comments on her passing, rather than simply attacking someone because they've chosen to accept their condition with positivity rather than giving in and allowing science to dictate their path.
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. Reading the previous blog post had me feeling nothing but anger and well, even pity... for those who felt they had the right to criticise and judge someone when their comments were based on assumptions and a single world view, rather than having the humility and grace to acknowledge that there is more to life than what convention dictates.
What Jesssica achieved in her 7 years of "thriving with cancer" is nothing short of inspirational (and at no point did she refuse or criticise conventional medicine - only ever claimed that she knew there was no cure for her so she decided to transform her life and focus on being well, rather than sucumbing to a life sentence). Instead of focusing on feeling sorry for herself, she poured love and life into everyone she met. Never complained about her choices or criticised the choices made by others. And shone her light on the world in the hope of making it a better place. What the world needs is not more medicine, and political pharmaceutical enterprise, but more people with a heart big enough to make this world a better place to live in.
Rest in peace, beautiful Jess. Your star will always shine bright, long long after you made your home in heaven.

By earthchild (not verified) on 27 Feb 2015 #permalink

nancy d@21: "I am a medical doctor too…"
@116: "The body’s ability to produce cancer cells is intrinsic. Therefore cancer cannot be cured by our current medical capabilities. Treated, sure. But not cured."

I hope that first one is a typo and you meant "naturopathic doctor".

By capnkrunch (not verified) on 27 Feb 2015 #permalink

What a fight, you lived the same years as conventional medicine had estimated to give you...

No she didn't because she didn't do what oncologists recommended to her. If Jess' legacy is so wonderful then why is her history being scrubbed and her followers in denial about her choice to disseminate bogus cancer cures?

By Science Mom (not verified) on 27 Feb 2015 #permalink

I apologize for my broad statement.

@Todd W
The extrinsic factors you mention are stressors that activate oncogenes in our own cells to produce tumours. The random mutations you mention are also evidence of our own body's ability to express the oncogenes (or de-activate the tumour suppressor genes, which is what you are referring to )... making all of this an intrinsic phenomenon, to which some are more genetically susceptible that others.
As others have pointed out, there are some cancers that are more treatable than others. Like hodgkins or testicular cancer, where recurrence rate is low. And there are differing views on the correct definition of a 'cure'. Some cancers have a very low recurrence rate, and some high. Regardless of this, the intrinsic properties of cancer and its potential still reside in an individual and it therefore is an ailment without a cure. (Have you heard about silencing oncogenes?) Many researchers agree on this point, you can search a scientific database for articles to find these opinions. And this is the definition to which I am referring.

The definition of '5 years cancer free'... is just that, you have been free of cancer for 5 years. But, generally speaking, the potential for cancer due to your own individual genetic makeup and how it interacts with the environment is still there.

We can try to prevent, and we can treat. But it's not something where the outcome is as simple healing a broken leg. I know a family where every person in the last 3 generations has developed cancer, all different types, and often at a young age. And that's why I think that whether people want to pursue conventional or alternative medicine is their understandable right. Because we don't understand the condition as well as people like to think we do. What we do know is that cancer is becoming more common, we have cancer genes programmed into our DNA, all of us do, and the only reason we don't all have cancer is that we have genes that silence the cancer genes.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tumor_suppressor_gene
And unless someone figures out how to change our DNA, cancer is here to stay. There is heavy evidence and ongoing research to suggest that lifestyle plays a key part in keeping those silencer genes active, and keeping cancer suppressed. So people who want to explore that quack lifestyle approach, have every right to.

@ScienceMom - that is correct.

They are attempting to "RetCon" her entire experience, because it is the only thing they have to hold on to - if Jess lied to them (and she admitted that she did), then it invalidates their own choices as well.

It is a shame, because anything that she might have done which could be held in a positive light, is forever tarnished by the fact that she couldn't tell the truth about her condition.

Why do these people that are obviously fans of Jess, not understand what anyone is saying?

We are all glad and agree she should and did make the choice for how she wanted to face this.

YAY for that! Very serious YAY for that.

The problem most of us have is she lied, deceived and encouraged people to do what she was doing. She made people that followed her not doing what she was doing, feel inferior. I read on Facebook today a woman upset about Jess's death but she and her husband are going to keep "curing his melanoma" with coffee enemas and other junk, in honor of Jess.

The last paragraph is where it is no longer Jess making a choice for HER life. She deceived people, no telling how many she has taken down the path she just traveled.

How can people not understand this?

The "Wellness Warrior" construct only existed because of the internet and media. Jess wanted to believe she could cure herself and so did her followers -we all want to believe we are in control. Without the internet there would be no audience, only a sick person coming to terms with their illness and navigating treatment options with friends and family around them for support and guidance.
As it turns out Jess was never in remission or thriving - she was always dying despite any claims or suggestions to the contrary. However, she chose her path and, until very recently (ref.December blog post) seemed to embrace it wholeheartedly.
She was always entitled to make decisions about her own body and life, whether that be Gearsons or crystals or incantations. She was however never entitled to lie and mislead her audience about her progress and shame on the media who helped promelugrate that - they too are complicit in the death of anyone who was influenced by those deceptions and half-truths.
I'd like to be able to say this is just another sad case of a young person dying of cancer, and in a way it is and my respects go to her friends and family. But in another way it isn't at all.
The Wellenss Warrior was a public figure, a 'brand' built on explicit promotion of an untested diet and 'therapy' regime that being claimed to be curing or improving cancer. It was misleading and unethical - irrespective of what Jessica personally believed or wanted to believe. It's very sad that Jess Ainscoungh was taken by her cancer. It's not sad at all that the Wellness Warrior has been exposed. I hope it helps save some lives.

@Rose T

Thank you for sharing your story. It's an important viewpoint that might otherwise get overlooked.

Best of luck to you. Hope you remain cancer-free!

@Kelly - because they have internalized Jess' message - if that message was a lie, it means that they are complicit in the lie....or worse, they made decisions based on ultimately what was a lie.

If that makes sense. It isn't about Jess anymore - it is about them.

If "science" means "supporting Big Pharma's crap and duping everyone else to support them as well" then yes, this is a "science blog"

nancy d - I'd argue that your argument also applies to the broken leg (though it is much simpler to treat, obviously). After all, the leg bones all have intrinsic tensile and shear strengths. If they are exposed to forces greater than their strength, they break. Thus we can treat broken bones but we can never cure them.

But that's not what I really wanted to comment on. You say

There is heavy evidence and ongoing research to suggest that lifestyle plays a key part in keeping those silencer genes active, and keeping cancer suppressed. So people who want to explore that quack lifestyle approach, have every right to.

Which "quack lifestyle approach" do you think has the best evidence showing it can cure cancer? What is that evidence?

Thanks.

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

Pardon me - treat cancer and put it into remission.

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

I spent more than twenty years watching my dad combat a variety of tumours before he contracted one that he couldn't beat. I longed for something that would take the cancer away once and for all but I am we'll read enough to know that such a wish was just that. I can see why this poor young lady made her choices and share the frustrations of those who maintain she made poor choices.

One wonders how many times this unfortunate story has to be repeated before it finally sinks in to some minds that there are effective treatments and ineffective ones. It is tempting to follow the route where the patient takes control of their disease but it is also the route that seems to result in a premature end. I have seen too many like-minded cancer sufferers find the yellow brick road leads to the same old illusory Emerald City.

By Fragmeister (not verified) on 27 Feb 2015 #permalink

Thank you for posting such a respectful piece. I do not see how it is too soon. At all.

To those who are complaining about the word quackery, what else would you call it? Gerson is quackery. It is quackery that has caused loss of life, for the Ainscough family, for many other families around the world. It is expensive woo.

It truly saddens me that Jess passed away. As much as I believed that she would ultimately die or end up back in conventional cancer treatment for her illness, I honestly and sincerely hoped that she would get her miracle and live a long and happy life.

I hope that her death receives publicity, and that this publicity highlights the dangers of psuedo-science especially in life threatening situations like this. Not out of disrespect for the Ainscough family. Out of a sincere hope that other families that are in similar situations choose a different path and decide to keep the alt med as a complementary treatment only, or decide to discount it altogether.

Perhaps her death can save another's life.

Jess's blog was not all about cancer or Gerson (if anyone read it would know), that part probably took over less than 5% of her website. Her blog and website was about leading a happy, healthy and full life in which she did. She always said Gerson is not for everyone, and told you to do your OWN research, and consult integrative doctor or healer.

Have you guys read her book "Make Peace with Your Plate", it WASN'T a book on "How I cured my cancer with Gerson"! It is a lifestyle book.

You guys bang on the fact she made money from her story on curing cancer but she was selling a lifestyle, not one for cancer patients for one for all. Good food (alot of that green shit!), exercise, self care, meditate, be grateful and be positive. Don't you agree we all need!

@Lawrence, that makes sense.

What they don't get.. They are now doing what Jess did and intentionally lying to sick people that are in a vulnerable state.

That should be criminal. People are free to lie to themselves of they want. When you start lying to someone concerning their very life, you have taken some responsibly for their outcome, even of you did want it.

Need an edit..

*You have taken some responsibly for their outcome, even if you did NOT want it.

A serious question to all of Jess' followers here.

What was the most convincing piece of evidence Jess provided or linked to about a lifestyle or health protocol beating or curing cancer? She praised Gerson therapy on numerous occasions, but if she recommended others they'd do just as well, as long as she provided or linked to evidence of efficacy.

@Mephistopheles O'Brien

Sure, that's a good and insightful point. And lifestyle can make you live with the leg more comfortably. But we are born with oncogenes in our every cell and every cell has that potential to express itself.

And to answer your question... I think we can learn a lot about preventing and treating disease by the whole alternative healing arena in general. Sure, I agree there's some bogus stuff in the mix like the coffee enemas all day long. But we can be smart and wade peat that stuff. The basic concepts of good nutrition based on plants and minimizing stress. This basic concept is believed to help in keeping tumour suppressor genes active. There is similar research being done in the field of gerontology and aging.
here's just one that shows how fruit can change gene regulation, but if you do a search on pubmed or PLOS, you'll find lots.
http://www.biomedcentral.com/1741-7015/8/54
There are many specific approaches you could take, like macrobiotics, ayurveda... the essence of any of them done sensibly is going to help to suppress oncogenes.

@Orac

I rather think my treatment of Jess Ainscough is far more respectful than [Mike Adams' ghoulishness].

Yes, it effing well is. Thank you for writing compassionately and reasonably about this case, both while she lived and after her demise. As the true believers are trying to whitewash the unfortunate reality of Jess's condition, your honest and respectful analysis adds a much needed note of caution to her legacy.

By Jen Phillips (not verified) on 27 Feb 2015 #permalink

Out of respect for Jess, her partner and family you could of at least waited a week, month or longer not 24 hours! This sickens me, whether you agree or not with her choice of treatment doesn't give you the right to slander her moments after her passing. You sick fuck. My faith in the human race disappoints me constantly.

The real tragedy here is you're using this sad day to push your own barrow. You neglect to mention the legion of people who have chemo/radiation/surgery and STILL DIE of their cancer anyway.

Shame on you.

Mephistopheles O'Brien @161
I thought the same thing but couldn't have said it nearly as well. It seems like going by nancy d's logic we all have cancer and only death or immortality can cure it.

By capnkrunch (not verified) on 27 Feb 2015 #permalink

There is something deeply wrong with you. Her family is going through the worst days of their lives and you stick your nose in where it doesn't belong. Jess's first moto is to "be kind", if you don't believe or agree with her wellness ways at least believe it the first lesson she teaches. Delete this post and BE KIND!

Are we that disconnected from any kind of human connection or empathy that we're most concerned with right fighting at a time like this? I'm horrified and deeply saddened that some feel the need to condemn to the point of accusation of murdering others. Last time I checked everyone has a choice irrespective of what that may be and whether or not you may agree with that. Rather than adopting such a supercilious tone and somehow taking death as failure and therefore cause to condemn/judge, why can't we separate out the facts a little more objectively? I also wish that some would be open minded enough to realise that if you've lost someone to cancer, it's the quality of the time that can sometimes matter more than the quantity for some. In this case, how can we possibly know what the alternative timeframes may have been had she chosen a different path (statistics only predict so far).

@sally

100% agree! I don't have cancer and I have her book, I make green smoothies and feel so great! Jess promoted a healthy lifestyle and having a positive outlook.

"she knew she was taking risks and decided to focus on the quality of her life"

"you did it in health and spirit "

"Her blog and website was about leading a happy, healthy and full life in which she did."

Etc etc

I read the excerpt Orac quoted. How is living on a daily flood of carrot juice and multiple daily coffee enemas enjoying a full life?

Yes, there are cancer patients who look at their options and say, "You know, X amount of time longer on this earth with chemo isn't worth it to me - I want to splurge and spend the last few years of my life enjoying life." And that's a totally fair option. If Jess had said, "I would rather live a short life with both arms than have a 70-ish% chance of cure with an amputation," yes, even though it's not the choice others would make, it's an informed personal choice.

But that wasn't her choice. She chose a life full of carrot juice and coffee enemas, and she did it not because that was what she loved in life. She did this because she thought it would cure her. Full stop. She was wrong, and she was and is pulling others down with her.

It's a tragedy she died, and it would only be more of a tragedy if more people died following in her path, thinking they could cure cancer through it.

By Roadstergal (not verified) on 27 Feb 2015 #permalink

How dissapointing it is when I google search for Jess your pathetic bile kaka for a website is the first thing that comes up. Kakalicious stuff here.

Even the ones you think are smart/educated/schooled..well they are many times, the most pompous asses and kiss the butts of our enemies, such as big old far pharma.. the ones killing the masses because the masses are like blind sheep. Its people like Jessica and others that are TOO smart for the haughty ones. Go on you sheep, aka democrats I can bet thats pretty spot on, keep following big pharma and this Orca dipshit, cause they will lead you to an early grave. They get paid to shorten peoples lives. Its called depopulation! !! Sorry of that words too big for you to understand. Oh and don't forget to go get your flu shots and all your vaccines they wanna make mandatory. How bout you Orca followers take mine for me too whole your at it?

So Sad to lose an inspiring woman who chose a different path. How many people have died from using Effective medicine.? We can isolate this a tragic story of a girl who chose the wrong path and paid for it with her life. I ask you to tell me the tragic stories of the millions of people who have died from cancer using the conventional path. I have seen followed them and believe me they are a lot worse than the path Jess chose unfortunately with the same ending. I know what I would chose.

By Kelly Brown (not verified) on 27 Feb 2015 #permalink

Thank you Nancy D for giving me some hope that not all medical practitioners are closed-minded. I've come across a lot of them during my husbands journey with a brain tumour. I have followed Jess very closely for years now and she helped both my husband and I tremendously. My husband followed treatments that were right for him (something that Jess Ainscough was a huge advocate for - making decisions based on what is right for YOU because everybody is different), both conventional and alternative treatments and he no longer has a brain tumour and has regained function of some of his hormones, something that medical practitioners told him was not possible.
I took part in Jess' 'Lifestyle Transformation Guide' and she changed my life. Her legacy is much more than her sharing her personal journey with cancer, she taught me self love, to increase my fruit and vegetable intake, to reduce sugar in my diet, not to be scared of healthy fats, to exercise, to have a positive mindset, to follow my dreams, to believe in myself and to love. To reduce her to Gerson Therapy and coffee enemas shows your lack of knowledge of what she stood for. She didn't claim to know everything, she was learning and she shared her journey with the world. It's easy to pass judgement from the outside. I will be forever grateful to the beautiful soul, Jess Ainscough.

By Kristee Evans (not verified) on 27 Feb 2015 #permalink

To the author of this post you are complete waste of oxygen. What's it to you, how one person decides to live their life. The fact that you knit picked all her and her mother's decisions.
They were not your decisions to make little own blog about. You are scum!!
RIP JESS

"There are many specific approaches you could take, like macrobiotics, ayurveda… the essence of any of them done sensibly is going to help to suppress oncogenes."

So yes, you're a naturopathic quack that doesn't understand science.

Jess Ainscough was a fraud who hid the fact her health was deteriating and the fact her diet wasn't working. She chose vanity of amputation and life. She brought it on herself. I can't believe her mother chose not to seek western medicine. What were they thinking.

I came across Jess Wellness Warrior blog a while ago and must admit I was quite taken by all the feel-good advice which seemed genuine and convincing. I had seen her mention Gersons but, not being personally experienced with cancer, thought she had completely cured her cancer and was promoting a healthy lifestyle. Or maybe I didn't do enough research. I understood her message to be all about healing and prevention and felt woefully inadequate that somehow I seemed to be responsible for medical conditions out of my control and I was obviously not trying hard enough to "heal" the "right" way. The big alarm bells, apart from her death, are that all her content is now blocked/unavailable and that says to me that there is something to hide. Perhaps the fact that tens of thousands of people have been mislead intentionally or through lying by omission. Found this article which is stunning in contrast to reality: http://jamiegonzalez.com/limit-breaker-jessica-ainscough/

This is terribly sad. Part of me is blown away that people choose alternative nonsense over modern medicine for cancer.... but then the other part of me is not surprised at all. I wish so badly that pseudoscience couldn't kill. But it unfortunately does, in so many different areas.

By Doula Dani (not verified) on 27 Feb 2015 #permalink

It was the Cancer that killed her - it was her reliance on quackery that prevented any opportunity that her life could have been extended.....and it was her lies about her condition that make it hard for me to feel sorry for her.

I am so incredibly saddened by her death, surprisingly deeply and overwhelmingly so- considering I never knew herpersonally. I hope other people are waking up to reality and saving themselves with real tested and proven scientific medicine, as well as holistic lifestyle changes. Being truly open-minded is not the same thing as what Jess preached. I hope people realise that.

At the end of the day, Jess got to choose her path. Anyone who followed her advice knowing very well she had zero qualifications also made their own mind up.

Making decisions based on fear is never a good thing, but sadly, it's the position a lot of people are put in.

Me, no, I don't have cancer. My father does though. At the age of 80, if his hormone injections don't keep it at bay (which they're not), he will no doubt make the choice to live his last days quietly and peacefully without the intervention of poison in to his body.

There is a place for both conventional treatment and natural therapies to support healing. I know this because I have been through my own battle for the last 20 years, and I used drugs to kill something bad and then natural therapies to help my body heal. I may never be fully healed, but without those natural therapies, my qualify of life would be significantly worse than they are now.

I think this is a valid conversation to be having on this day, it needs to be discussed, as long as it's done respectfully.

My first thought when I heard she died was how many of her followers who have been clinging to her hope and following natural paths are now going to lose hope. It appears there's a chance that when her mother died, that's exactly what happened to Jess.

Read the book Mind Over Medicine. It's written by a doctor and documents endless cases of positive thinking helping people overcome illness and negativity bringing them to their knees and even killing some.

Bravo to Angelina Jolie for choosing to have her breasts removed. I have a friend whose mother and grandmother died of breast cancer. If I was here, both of mine would be coming off right about now.

Thank you Nancy D for giving me some hope that not all medical practitioners are closed-minded. I’ve come across a lot of them during my husbands journey with a brain tumour. I have followed Jess very closely for years now and she helped both my husband and I tremendously. My husband followed treatments that were right for him (something that Jess Ainscough was a huge advocate for – making decisions based on what is right for YOU because everybody is different), both conventional and alternative treatments and he no longer has a brain tumour and has regained function of some of his hormones, something that medical practitioners told him was not possible.
I took part in Jess’ ‘Lifestyle Transformation Guide’ and she changed my life. Her legacy is much more than her sharing her personal journey with cancer, she taught me self love, to increase my fruit and vegetable intake, to reduce sugar in my diet, not to be scared of healthy fats, to exercise, to have a positive mindset, to follow my dreams, to believe in myself and to love. To reduce her to Gerson Therapy and coffee enemas shows your lack of knowledge of what she stood for. She didn’t claim to know everything, she was learning and she shared her journey with the world. It’s easy to pass judgement from the outside. I will be forever grateful to the beautiful soul, Jess Ainscough.

By Kristee Evans (not verified) on 27 Feb 2015 #permalink

I am sorry to hear that Jess has passed. I hope that her family and friends find comfort.

Wow there has been a lot of tone trolling today plus a lot of the 'freedom' tropes coming out. While I support your right to decide what to do with your own body as a competent adult, that is not all that Jess did. She advocated quackery and she promoted it. She made a living off of promoting it. She lied, repeatedly, about her own health. She stated she was cured. She pulled her mother down the path of woo and her mother passed. As has been pointed out, Jess deliberately concealed her own state in order to keep peddling woo and make money. It was only at the very end of her life, when she was obviously suffering greatly, and had withdrawn from public life that she posted cryptically about her cancer. She had cancer. She always had cancer. She never cured anything. Those shouting on here about her brave choices, they weren't brave. They were the grasping at straws of the desperate and the marketing of that hype to the other desperate people. Brave would have been embracing a horrible and disfiguring amputation and going on to live a full and health life. Was it an easy choice? No. Would her life have been different? Yes. But she could have bravely faced the fact that it was her best shot at living to a ripe old age, at holding a child and grandchild and living a full life. That would have been true bravery. Embracing quackery and promoting it and then lying about its effectiveness until you are too sick to keep up the charade any longer that's not bravery people. I am sorry for her death but Orac's post isn't inconsiderate. In fact as with all of his cancer cure posts he is imminently respectful of the person with cancer. No one can know what they will do when faced with an awful choice. One can only hope to have the courage and strength of will to go with what has been scientifically proven to give you the best shot. Nothing is perfect, science isn't perfect. Cancer sucks big time. And some cancers suck worse than others. But science can give you facts backed up with research. Quacks give you hope in a bottle of high priced supplements or water and drain your bank account with detox and every other woo under the sun. Then when you are too sick to continue they deride you as having not tried hard enough, or not bought the right supplement, or gods forbid had two rounds of chemo before you found them. That is why you died not the woo, its always the fault of medicine. Even if you were 'pure' and never sullied your body with chemo or radiation it will still be your fault you died. Never theirs.

There is something deeply wrong with you. Her family is going through the worst days of their lives and you stick your nose in where it doesn’t belong.

Um, Orac is writing on his own personal blog. Isn't that where he belongs? It's not like he is commenting on her obituary at the funeral home or anything.

And yes, I'm sure her family is grieving. But how does this blogpost change that? Why would they be reading it? Does the grieving process involve doing web searches to see what everyone is saying about your deceased daughter on the day after she dies? That seems pretty strange to me. In fact, given that the family members are not regulars here, there is no reason to think that the family should know anything about what Orac has written, unless there are others telling them about it, in which case, I have to ask, who is the real villain? I always try to think about how that conversation goes...."Hey, I know you are grieving at the loss of your daughter, but you should read all the nasty things this asshole has said about her!"

But what are friends for, right?

By Marry Me, Mindy (not verified) on 27 Feb 2015 #permalink

Very sad. Rest in peace Jess. Thoughts to her loved ones.
I understand that this is a sensitive topic at the moment but did find the article thought provoking and honest. I have always been intrigued with both alternative and conventional medicine and think it is necessary to query each equally. Although her own choice and journey, I do feel that previous branding of 'cancer thriver' and similar inferrences of The Big C conquering were misleading. I would like to thank Orac for addressing this and not sweeping it under the rug. There's no denying that there are some serious questions around the many concepts which had been endorsed to so many followers.

Since other Kellys are showing up, I'll add my location. This is the Kelly with the sister that has had several cancers.

I have to say, when people start invoking the words "Big Pharma and" Sheep" and then deciding you know political affiliation, I can not look at anything you say as credible.

As a right leaning Libertarian, not Democrat, again, thrilled that Jess was able to face this on her terms, she should be able to have done that, even share her journey online.

She did not stop with that. She intentionally deceived people and did it for profit.

Isn't that one of the big complaints about "Big Pharma" that many of you have?

Ironic.

@187
"and it was her lies about her condition that make it hard for me to feel sorry for her."

That's the part that really bugged me. She had a cancer. It was part of her. She lived with it. She chose to keep the arm and to keep the cancer.

Why not admit it? Why not say "Here is my arm! Here is the cancer! I chose to keep both of them. I choose to carry this cancer. I choose to live the best life I can with my cancer!".

There are many people who do that. They don't have a choice. I admire their courage.

She made her choice but also chose to pretend mightily that that she had triumphed over her cancer, that it didn't matter, that it wasn't significant.

@Jill since you got all uppity in your post, I know have to ask.

Who is this Killer Whale you think we are following?

As far as the Gerson Therapy, I must defend it!

I look forward to your doing so, by providing citations to peer-reviewed journal articles presenting clinical evidence that Gerson therapy is effective at treating cancers.

May i expect a substantive response anytime soon?

Wholeheartedly agree with everything you have said Kiiri. I can't quite get my head around the deception and it makes me angry and more upset about it all. I am not great with words and couldn't have said it as coherently as you. Just wanted to add support to rational, critical thinking. Bad things happen to good people and vice versa. Nobody is perfect and as we mourn her death we should be mindful of the path and the choices she made. Thanks for writing about this Orac. It needed to be said.

nancy d - Thanks for your comment. You said

I think we can learn a lot about preventing and treating disease by the whole alternative healing arena in general.

I believe that details matter in this kind of discussion. There is entirely too much in the arena of alternative healing, both valid and bogus, to simply wave at and say "we can learn a lot from that". We might be able to learn some good stuff, but there is (as you say) a lot of bogus stuff there as well.

So can you be more specific?

Thanks.

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

Amazing how anyone who profits from the profession of poisoning sick individuals screams quackery at an effective treatment such as the Gerson therapy or others.

Texan, your evidence that the Gerson therapy or those unspecified other therapies are actually effective teatments for cancer would be...what, exactly? Be specific.

You can’t predict the future

Yet the predicted medical outcome of Jess Ainscough’s decision to eschew conventional SBM treatment and instead pursue unproven alternative theraies like the Gerson protocol seems to have been spot on: her survival of seven years with her disease essentially untreated falls within the predicted range of survival for untreated cancers of this type.

Go figure..

This post is so disrespectful!! A beautiful woman has died and the best you can do is gloat about how her choices failed her and continue to presume to know what would have been a better choice!!? Oh my goodness! Where the hell do you get off!? Jess achieved 7years of beautiful, wholesome, peaceful life with her loving family... She had good health!!
The 70% survival rate you speak of... Is that not based on the average 5yrs of life post treatment!!!? I would rather choose Jess' 7years of vitality and happiness over hospitals and radical amputations!!

I don't agree that Jess ever tried to hide her disfigurement nor the fact that she had cancer! It's clear that this diagnosis was an awakening for her and she proceeded in a way that should be applauded! Jess didn't withdraw from society and wallow in self pity... She broke the mould and with that won the respect and friendship of many hundreds of people who followed her journey! She inspired people to take a good hard look at their lives and make positive changes for better health and a better world!

I think you miss the point completely... That's a shame for you!
Rest in peace Jess xx

I hope you've enjoyed what is essentially a big fat 'I TOLD YOU SO' disguised in a bunch of rambles, feigning that you supposedly now 'mourn' this young woman's life.
I forgot.
I forgot that Western medicine is flawless, and has a 100% success rate. Oh wait.

It's obvious to me that Jess's over all message has been completely lost on you. Do you think she's failed because she has died? If she hadn't have explored further options she would have missed what truly made her life worth living - the love. The connection with thousands of other people, and most importantly, with herself, about true joy and acceptance in life.
THAT is her lasting message. It's a shame that you seem so focused on the physical attributes of the human body, that you seem to have forgotten the mind.

My thoughts are with her (truly) mourning friends and family at this time.

meditate, be grateful and be positive. Don’t you agree we all need!

Within reason, those things are generally beneficial for most people. But relying on them excessively or to an unrealistic degree is bad for your health.

#196 - Why not admit it? Why not say “Here is my arm! Here is the cancer! I chose to keep both of them. I choose to carry this cancer. I choose to live the best life I can with my cancer!”.

I may be way off-base here but, the only answer that makes sense to my cynical mind is "money".

How exactly did she support herself in her final years of life?

Sarah - please show the words where Orac gloated? Thanks.

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

nancy d @169:

So your point is essentially "there is no such thing as a cure for any disease and never will be, because anyone who lives long enough will get cancer"?

That's a really weird interpretation of "cure": if an antibiotic gets rid of a bacterial infection, or my own immune system fights off a virus, that disease has been cured, even though I am not immortal.

It also leads to an obvious question: if you believe that nothing can ever cure any disease, why are you singling out science-based medicine for semantic criticism? How much time are you spending telling the promoters of chiropractic and ayurvedic medicine that they should stop talking about curing people's problems?

There is no cure for cancer, conventional or alternative.

Lance Armstrong would like a word with you...

Sounds about right ( and typical for you)..... Not being able to wait even 24 hours before you totally judge & denagrade her character for being autonomous with HER OWN body. People who choose conventional chemo, did it withou YOU constantly criticizing them. So why must you continue with your opinions (that don't mean a darn thing) about what Jess did??Leave her in PEACE!!!!! Conventional chemo & radiation fill the body with POISON....and then it, too, dies....in an average of 7 years!!

And I'm sure Mr. Moderator, that my comment won't be allowed to post.

Lyn at comment #148; if that was all she did then who could find fault in her actions? Unfortunately it wasn't. She gave false information and false hope, or at least misdirected hope.

I am not a surgeon or even doctor of any kind. I am not paid by the medical pharmaceutical complex. I have no money. I have nothing to gain by giving a message contrary to the one that 'Wellness Warrior' spread.

Yet I do. Why? Because the information she told you and her other adherents was wrong. Simply that.

Coffee enemas will not cure ANY form of cancer. Simply changing your diet will not cure ANY form of cancer. A healthy, 'positive' lifestyle will improve your general... health. It will not reverse the changes that cancer brings. Sadly. I wish it would. I wish it were that simple. If it were then people who are very dear to me would still draw breath.

And as for the issue of negative tone that many new commenters have mentioned? Seriously???

Every single opening comment I have read here has expressed sadness and commiserations to the family of 'Wellness Warrior'. Every one.

In comparison the fellow 'Linus' at comment #48 actively wishes we all who share and express an opposing viewpoint die of the same untreated cancer which caused the horrific death of 'Wellness Warrior'. He wishes we had all died instead of her - ALL of us... You want to talk about negativity and malice? You don't get much more malicious or less positive than that.

By Gemma Aster (not verified) on 27 Feb 2015 #permalink

Yet Janny... It has... Does that tell you anything? Anything at all?

By Gemman Aster (not verified) on 27 Feb 2015 #permalink

@Janny -

And I’m sure Mr. Moderator, that my comment won’t be allowed to post.

How certain are you now?

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

@Janny..lookie, you were wrong and you were posted!

Oh as I read more replies, I am becoming convinced that vaccines and real medicine has protected us from an unknown virus. I do not know the name of the virus, but it clearly affects ones ability to read and comprehend.

Speaking as someone who has lost two family members to cancer: stories like this just make me wish I actually believed there was a hell for the people who sell quack 'cures' for cancer to go to.

@212 Gemman Aster

Whenever I see a comment such as

And I’m sure Mr. Moderator, that my comment won’t be allowed to post.

I find myself wondering if it is just a projection of what they would do if they ran a blog.

By stewartt1982 (not verified) on 27 Feb 2015 #permalink

Sarah, Jess had a lot of influence with platform and the message she chose to share. With that, comes responsibility. I am into healthy living and alternative medicines too, albeit without cancer, and found myself vulnerable to Jess' well branded story. I tried to follow her lead and made changes in my life because I was convinced she was living proof of their effectiveness. To find out that she was concealing the devastating extent of her illness to the point where her death comes as an absolute shock, is testament to the fact that she was not as honest as she should have been to her followers. Many of whom, like myself, looked up to her as a shining example of integrity and wholesomeness. I feel cheated and not to be dramatic but my faith in humanity is somewhat shaken. I trusted her. I am sad that she tried her best and it wasn't enough. I am sad that other people may also have suffered and died as a result of following her lead. I wish she had shared more of her story with us, more of the really nitty gritty stuff. And if she wasn't prepared to do that, perhaps she shouldn't have gone public with this persona. She had some good messages to share, messages that many of us can incorporate to our daily lives in general but that's about it.

Sarah,

Jess achieved 7years of beautiful, wholesome, peaceful life with her loving family… She had good health!!

At least 10 months of which with so severe bleeding from her armpit it made her anemic? So anemic she admitted to being bedridden for last few months (late last year, so could be two more months).

I, like others here, are not arguing she shouldn't have chosen what treatment modalities she chose. I think she had every right to manage her health and cancer how she wanted.

What I have a problem with is what you Sarah seem to be doing too - that is, misrepresenting her case in order to promote the therapies she chose - Gerson, natural juicing and whatnot. It is regrettable that she died, but she didn't get rid of her cancer, nor did she die healthy.

And I'll repeat my question to all: What was the best evidence Jess offered in favor of her chosen treatments?

Oh @Janny, my uncle that went through experimental treatment that makes chemo today and radiation today, look like Sunday Fun Day, would put his 60 years up for you to deny.

My sister, two rounds of chemo (Hodgkins returned in 2 years of diagnosis) and I think 3 of radiation, would gladly put her 20 plus years of survival up for you to try and deny.

Got a site for all cancer patients dying in an average of 7 years when using actual medicial treatment?

I fill confident in saying there is no factual site for your claim.

@janny

Care to retract your comments?

(To clarify my previous comment- I have never had cancer but try to manage my chronic illnesses)

I don’t agree that Jess ever tried to hide her disfigurement nor the fact that she had cancer!

Uh-huh.

On a slight tangent - I attended a preview of the Ken Burns Emperor of All Maladies documentary with a Q&A session with Dr Mukherjee at lunch today. Having heard this update on Jess this morning, and with the story on my mind, of course I had to ask his thoughts on 'alternative' medicine, and found his reply both politic and pleasing - that every medicine should be held to the same high standard, that every person/group who promotes a treatment holds the burden of demonstrating that it works through rigorous science, and that proportionate skepticism is always called for. I think it is positioned to be a very good documentary indeed, as he said he wrote the script and the preview seemed solidly science-based. I do hope it helps to disseminate some good information about cancer to the public at large.

(Adored the book, of course. After the Q&A, an acupuncturist came up to me and tried to sell me on acupuncture as 'integrative.' I pointed out that studies show that sham acupuncture is as effective as 'real,' the evidence that acupuncture is just a theatrical placebo, and made the plea for her, if she is going to peddle a theatrical placebo, to please stop actually sticking needles into people, as that carries risk that isn't called for. She wandered off.)

By Roadstergal (not verified) on 27 Feb 2015 #permalink

How many people use conventional methods to treat cancer and die anyway? To bad mouth Jess for the choices she made HERSELF on social media is a low blow and disrespectful.

Well, RIP JESSE. She was wonderfull and beautiful, she passed away gracefully with lots of respect from myself and from those people that understood why, what she was doing. Her WHY was and still is bigger then life. Her methods of healing was her choice, her life style vegan , Getson therapy combined with other therapies that was her goal and she successfully did it. I have read many comments that you should be ashamed even to post your ignorance is astounding. I have questions for those people... Chemio therapy kills 85/90% of people while in the process it burns and kill your cells and organs,. There are thousands of studies shown after performing autopsies on cancer patients that chemio killed patient faster then cancer does. She had the rarest cancer on the planet and she survived in great health for so many years while embarking to a wellness career. To bring hope and encouragement to us all. For those people , what have you done yourself for yourself and for the human race lately ? Have you looking after your body, your internal organs , your brain? Are you eating healthy truly organic , vegan lifestyle? I bet anything that those people that made those stupid and insensitive comment are quite unhealthy, eat lots of sugar , animal fats, and they put chemicals on their skin... Let me say this... If you have done 10% of what Jesse did for her body you would be the most healthy human on the planet and you would prevent all sorts of deseases ... She has thought us to prevent to have great goals , to be happy and to abbandon toxic relationships. So before you speak look at yourself first and then say " have I done the best I could today for my body"? Did you???
My deepest sympathy . Domenico

Nope, never said anything of the sort.

I was diagnosed with an incurable cancer in 2008 — one that conventional medicine had no answer for. After the initial shock, fear, anger and all of the other emotions that cancer ensues; I started searching for ways that I could help myself. I found a treatment called Gerson Therapy, which involves two years of strict juicing for intense nourishment (13 times a day), coffee enemas for liver detoxification (up to five a day), and a basic vegan diet to starve the cancer cells of anything they need to grow and feed the body everything it needs to heal. This therapy worked for me, and now it is working for my mother who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer.

I think we can learn a lot about preventing and treating disease by the whole alternative healing arena in general.

Why do you think this? you mention the 'basic concepts of good nutrition based on plants and minimizing stress', but I'm not aware that there's any evidence that either is an effective treatment for cancer. You sugest that these can positively affect tumor suppressor genes, but the one citation you gave regarding nutritional intervention neither looked at effects on tumor suppressor gene nor demonstrated that any changes they did detect resulted in improved health by any measurement, let alone identifying a possible mechanism which would prevent or treat cancers.

is eating a healthy diet, reducing stress, exercising regularly etc. good for you? Yes.

Have any of the above been shown to be as, let alone more, effective as current standard of care Science-based medical intervention atpreventing or treating cancers? No.

My bosses wife passed away from cancer in dec 2014. She chose the route of western medicine. Jess passed away and had chosen natural medicine. Let's not forget that many peoe who have chosen western medicine have also died. This is a personal choice. Jess was simply sharing her story and her journey. She is kind, caring, loving and in no way would want to harm anyone.

Through finding Jess, I was able to heal an autoimmune disease that was greatly effecting my life. She has inspired people from all walks of life, including those who were not sick but needed a lifestyle change.

Let's be respectful of peoples choices.

To all those complaining about this blog post - first, its perfectly obvious that most if not all of you haven't actually read it, you've just skipped straight to the comments, righteous outrage at the ready. It was a sensitively written, factual piece by an expert in the field.

Also, you do know that its possible to feel sympathy and compassion for someone while also disapproving of their actions - or are you all capable of only one emotion at a time, like balloon with a face drawn on it? The irony is, if Jess had chosen conventional treatment and blogged about living healthily and positively with it, she probably would have been every bit as popular. I'm sad, terribly, genuinely sad at her passing. But we all read the comments on her blog and Facebook page, from those people whose cancers were clearly worsening under her suggested regimes, but who were reassured by her that they were mere 'healing reactions'. So no amount of sanctimonious tone-trolling will stop me from being furious on behalf of those people she led, Pied Piper like, on her dance towards her inevitable early grave.

By Charlotte (not verified) on 27 Feb 2015 #permalink

Perhaps off-tangent. In wondering how/why all Jess' work has been removed or censored, it occurred to me that perhaps whoever inherited her intellectual property is at risk of being sued by people who bought into it? Families who lost loved ones which followed the Gerson protocol and Jess books? Is the work Jess did, now a legal liability to whoever now owns/has the rights to it?

I thank you for this post orac people need to be made aware of the fact that this ridiculous quackery simply does nothing except maybe add more financial stress to very sick people

As the saying goes, it takes two to tango. Ainscough and her fans embraced one another in a dance of death. Sure, she courted them, but they reinforced her woo, and pushed it back on her, even after other 'wellness warriors' had died of cancer, even after it became apparent Ainscough was seriously ill. A liitle bit of blood from that fungating tumor is on the hands of all the complainers here. Their protestations denial at best, but I smell the stench of hypocrisy.

I am also getting nauseous at patriarchy in the all the testimonials to Ainscough's beauty. WTF does that have to do with anything? How about a little critical reflection on our culture's obsession with images of feminine perfection? Apart from the cancer cure stuff, Ainscough was selling the similar line as Vani Hani: eat like me, look like me, become an object of desire. Would she have been an object of such veneration if she'd been homely? Would she be dead?

Jess Ainscough didn't make the way the world treats pretty girls, she didn't make her cancer, she didn't make the upbringing that made her vulnerable to woo, she didn't make the seductive appeal of the woo than entrapped her, snuffed out her chances for longer life, led her endanger others. As a human being she deserves sympathy, understanding, to be mourned with genuine sadness. Unlike many woo-meisters, I'm sure she truly meant well. As dippy and saccharine as her prose may be, it has the ring of genuine sincerity.

But was a person IS, and what they REPRESENT, are two different things. We can and should criticize the second without passing judgement on the first. It doesn't matter to what degree Jessica Ainscough was the author of 'Jess Ainscough®, The Wellness Warrior™' for there were many many authors. What matters is that a desperately ill young woman was led to participate in her own commodification, and was turned into a packaged product with a toxic effect on public health.

It's not about Jessica the person. If she chose to die rather than lose her shoulder, I think most of us can understand that, even if we think we would take the other path under those conditions. If she wasn't a celebrity, and a cause celebre, her choice would just be hers. But she was not a private individual, she was a public star, a role model, a goddess of the natural food faith. That's why Orac has asked exactly the questions that must be asked:

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, for which she finally paid the price?

That's the thing. SHE paid. Somebody else profitted. If you don't have a problem with that, I have a problem with you not having a problem.

So people don't realize that "alternative" treatments that show promise, get attention and are studied?

Such as pot helping glaucoma, THC helping nausea, the bark of the Yew tree in cancer treatment, poppy flowers in pain control, right now, cannibas oil and seizures.

Yeah Big Bad Pharma is involved in this as is medicine in doing the studies. Many of those would be considered alternative medicine at a time.

You don't go tell someone to eat bark, or eat a poppy, etc. Some doctors will tell chemo patients that actually putting pot in food will help someone with bad nausea and help with appetite. I know for an undisputed FACT, that some doctors in states that do not allow medical pot even will tell patients where they can get it.

It does Big Pharma and medicine no good financially to ignore any thing that is considered alternative that shows promise. First thing Big Pharma could do is regulate it and get patents and that is GOOD for their business.

Contrary to what some think, they don't have the cure and are hiding it because the treatment cost more. If you have the cure, you could charge whatever you want and people would pay it. You will never run out of customers, someone will always need the cure.

I think I'm just too logical for the conspiracies..

Are we that disconnected from any kind of human connection or empathy that we’re most concerned with right fighting at a time like this?

Nobody asked for an invasion of Jess's indignant acolytes, who seem to be more concerned with hurling insults than sitting shiva or something.

We all wish that Gerson's were known to work.

We wish that Jess hadn't died of cancer. We wish that there was evidence to demonstrate that any and all alternative medical treatments (Gersons, yes, but also acupuncture, reiki, moxibustion, ayurvedic or paleo diets, hyperbaric oxygen treatments, etc) were actually safe and effective cures for diseases which now lack them.

If homeopathy or live blood analysis or orgone generators or whatever actually could be shown to cure things like Ebola or a safe chelation protocol were identified which actually could ameliorate the more problematic behaviors associated with ASD's I'd be over the moon.

But that's not what the evidence--any evidence--shows us. It shows us instead homeopathy is just water. Acupuncture performed correctly is no more effective than acupuncture deliberately performed wrong. Chelation as a treatment for ASD's offers significant risks but no detectable benefits.

No one is gloating here--we understand why the promise of a cure is so captivating. We simply wish that fewer people not only embraced false hopes to their own detriment, but also--as in jess' case--that fewer people encouraged others to embrace those false hopes as well.

It makes me so sad and angry that cancer has taken another life. Having lost my 16yr old nephew a little while ago to a similar cancer my heart breaks.

But to all those that say its too soon to criticise - there will never be a good time (especially for her family who will feel her death for the rest of their lives).

When someone dies (especially when young) we want to make them a saint or a hero. Jess chose to make herself a public figure based on discussing the treatment of her illness and by doing so unfortunately her death will also be discussed. Especially as she influenced many and made big $$ by telling her audience that she was thriving with cancer due to her lifestyle choices. However, this was done by presenting a very edited version of her life. SHe was far from transparent or honest. She claimed that her cancer was cured in early interviews. She edited photos to hide her arm. She posted photos of her looking happy, healthy and glowing right up to the end. She sang the praises of Gerson Therapy and said that traditional treatments were poison. She never mentioned that her mum was close to death and that Gerson obviously did not work for her. She never said she was close to death etc etc - the list goes on ... AND she continued to sell this story to many, right up to the very end.

Of course everyone is free to treat their cancer in whatever way feels right for them. But once you start making money (from at best) a very edited version of the truth and directly or indirectly encouraging others to follow the same path (a path she knew at some point at least was not working), there is a problem.

Her death is tragic. It is heartbreaking to see someone so young die in such an awful way. However I wish that as someone who was so willing to talk about her illness and her chosen treatment (and profit greatly from doing so), she was also willing to discuss that in the end it was not and did not work for both her and her mum. Then maybe we could have truly learnt from her and those facing their own cancer battles could see the ins/outs of different treatment choices and not just the glossed up version she chose to present.

By all account Jess seemed liked a beautiful person and I am sure she will be greatly missed by those that knew her. My heart breaks for all those that loved her. This is not a criticism of her as a person, but how she chose to present her illness and profit from it. I am actually a big supporter of holistic treatments - I just dont like the dishonestly, the editing of the truth or that others may have been mislead with false hope in something as critical as their own cancer treatment.

RIP Jess. I hope you are at peace with your mum now.

The other common talking point is that they're suppressing knwoledge of natural cures because they can't be patented so there's no way to generate profits.

Which, of course, completely ignores the fact that many drugs (like aspirin, for example) have been off patent for decades--yet somehow pharmaceutical companies still find it profitable to manufacture and market them.

Leonard Nimoy died on Friday morning at his home in the Bel Air section of Los Angeles. He was 83. His wife, Susan Bay Nimoy, confirmed his death, saying the cause was end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Mr. Nimoy announced that he had the disease last year, attributing it to years of smoking, a habit he had given up three decades earlier.

“Insufficient facts always invite danger.”

"Logic is the beginning of wisdom, not the end."

"Without followers, evil cannot spread."

“The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one.”

Sometimes believing in something 100 percent is the only thing that brings you hope and belief you can survive. I believe in what Orc says but can see why jess believed and fought her way when faced with her options. Cancer is the bad boy here .

@JGC the poppy flower, THC for nausea. They were able to get patents and manufacture medication from it. Now that doesn't stop people from growing their own opium poppies or growing/buying pot. Penicillin.. From mold. I mean if I wanted to, I could crank out mold by the tons if I never clean out my fridge.

So many of our medicines come from natural things and they still are able to manufacture a medication and get a patent.

I've just never understood that line of thinking..

@ JGC # 226

I agree with you that our focus has been on what we know and what we HAVE studied and that current interventions and protocols can be effective, but inconsistently. And I'm not cheering on the side of alternative medicine saying its one or the other. I'm saying that we need to be open to ideas...
Medicine 200 years ago included practices like boring into a skull with a drill to alleviate psychosis. And people who talked of a therapeutic approach were the quacks. Before medications were concentrated pills they were tinctures and herbs and their active ingredients hadn't been discovered yet. To practice good science, besides reading and citing articles, is to be open to exploring new possibility. Medicine is in perpetual innovation. The apothecaries that inspired all the thousands of wonder drugs we have now like, digitalis, aspirin, senakot, colchicine (a cancer drug)... those were all plants once. What I'm saying is that within the arena of alternative medicine... we have the potential to, and are making new discoveries that can work in conjunction with current medicine, or as stand alone practice. Whatever the case may be.
This is a new exploration, a lot of the studies haven't been done yet. But many have been done, and many are in the process. We have the means now, to study compounds that occur in 'natural' foods, that people just weren't interested in studying before.
For example, I am currently involved in research with the reishi mushroom. the whole mushroom arena in general may greatly impact cancer treatment in the future. Mushrooms are widely used in Chinese medicine.
Here's the first article that popped up when I searched, but you can go ahead and search for yourself.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14713328

Here's a literature review that includes a section on nutraceuticals and cancer that you can look at, loads of references in this bibliography:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4336979/

Turmeric and other caretenoids have been under the scope for a while and curcumin is soon to be included in the inventory for some big pharma brands. Thanks to the hype from the ayurvedic quacks, it got some attention (as did ginger and garlic). And is found to work by its own and synergistically with chemo meds for elevated results. So many articles came up when I searched for it that I'm just linking you to the search page:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/term=curcumin+and+cancer
Here's an article about phytonutrients and their potential role in fighting cancer:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25711533

I'll stop here but if you want me to I can find you more references. I'm sure you could just use pub med to search for the info you needed.

The reason there isn't the vast literature is because this IS the future. Neutraceuticals is the future... and thanks to the popularization of alternative therapies a lot of botanicals are getting attention they otherwise wouldn't have had. I won't go into the whole pharma spiel... but that too. Research goes where there's proven to be money.

The stress pathway is a complicated one, and if you did some reading you could figure out how it might be logical to deduce that it is a contributor to cancer. It is generally accepted in the medical community that it is a contributor/exacerbator to many other diseases as well. It's a difficult concept to study. But here's one article I found
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3037818/

Kelly at comment #234 (I REALLY don't know how to reply properly with this comment system!) - I think if you read the majority of the 'opposing views' here you will see the commenters are indeed respectful of other people's choices. I certainly am.

However, in 'western medicine' as you put it there is the concept of informed consent. It is not infallible and has problems - can you truly be informed without a solid background in medical science for instance? Nonetheless an attempt is made.

'Wellness Warrior' did not offer informed consent to her followers because the information she gave them was simply wrong. It was... in error at best. If what you tell someone is untrue - even if you completely believe in it yourself - then they cannot form a genuine opinion and cannot give genuine consent. Therefore in a very real sense she was not respecting her followers opinions - she did not tell them the whole story.

By Gemman Aster (not verified) on 27 Feb 2015 #permalink

@ Vicki #208

I'm sorry if I didn't express myself correctly. I am not 'singling out science-based medicine for semantic criticism?'... I actually make a living from science-based medicine, though many cringe at the thought ;) I just believe that alternative medicine is a valid line of inquiry. It precedes modern medicine in its time and practice and I think we can learn a lot from it, and incorporate it in conventional practice.

Regardings oncogenes, to answer your question I Would suggesting reading up on how cancer works and how it is expressed. We do not all have cancer nor will we inevitably get cancer (though the odds for some cancers do increase with age)... but we are all born with the potential to get cancer programmed into our cells, and our own cells actually birth their own cancer process under certain circumstances. I'm not making that up. You can google a wiki on oncogenes.

Yeah, because no one dies as a result of conventional Cancer treatment. For example Chemo has a 100% cure rate.

Using someone's death as an instrument to enable you to hate on beliefs you don't agree with and spread propaganda... Nice.

By Samantha Manners (not verified) on 27 Feb 2015 #permalink

The extrinsic factors you mention are stressors that activate oncogenes in our own cells to produce tumours. The random mutations you mention are also evidence of our own body’s ability to express the oncogenes (or de-activate the tumour suppressor genes, which is what you are referring to )… making all of this an intrinsic phenomenon, to which some are more genetically susceptible that others.

None of this does anything to salvage your original non sequitur, to wit:

The body’s ability to produce cancer cells is intrinsic. Therefore cancer cannot be cured by our current medical capabilities.

While on the bus, I concluded that you had two options:

1. Everybody has cancer! (As in The Walking Dead.)
2. You have declared cancer to be some sort of Fall from Grace, much like the insipid mantra of 12-step cultists, "once an addict, always an addict."

Now that I've returned, I see that you've clarified that you endorse No. 2:

Regardless of this, the intrinsic properties of cancer and its potential still reside in an individual and it therefore is an ailment without a cure.

There is heavy evidence and ongoing research to suggest that lifestyle plays a key part in keeping those silencer genes active, and keeping cancer suppressed.

Yah, not smoking, say, helps. "Anticancer diets,"* not so much.

You nonetheless couldn't refrain from doubling down:

There are many specific approaches you could take, like macrobiotics, ayurveda… the essence of any of them done sensibly is going to help to suppress oncogenes.

Do you even know what "ayurveda" means, or is this all some sort of words-in-the-Vitamix production? Macrobiotics? Yes, a half-assed recipe for nutritional deficiency is a great freaking idea. I take it that the word "sensibly" is present here to signify "not really" or something.

But of course, it's "the essence of any of them," whatever the f*ck that's supposed to mean.

* Gerson here (PDF). Remember, you don't just have to put things into your ass.

^ There should have been some sort of break between the paired block quotes, sorry.

I’m not making that up. You can google a wiki on oncogenes.

You're in exactly the wrong place to try posturing, Nancy.

Congratulations - you won. You're quite the hero in this story. Will you leave Jess alone now?

@Kelly #241

And since we're on the topic of cancer, don't forget the vinca alkaloids from periwinkle and it's relatives, taxanes from the Pacific yew and all the anticancer antibiotics like bleomycin from Streptomyces verticillus.

Off topic, I tried searching for news of Jess Ainscough's passing but she seemed to have disappeared from the internet and Orac's blog was one of the first results. Is this where all these people are coming from?

By Sian Williams (not verified) on 27 Feb 2015 #permalink

I was wondering that myself. I didn't see anything in the mainstream media yet, just notices from her friends on social media and the notice her website mailed out.

* Gerson here (PDF). Remember, you don’t just have to put things into your ass.

One notes that "coffee as a regular beverage" is actually prohibited. Apparently it's a one-orifice potion.

"we are all born with the potential to get cancer programmed into our cells"

No, that is incorrect. Lots of people do not have and never develop oncogenes, and there is nothing inevitable about developing cancer "if you live long enough". I suggest reading this article for starters.

http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/cid/documents/webcontent/002550-pdf.pdf

The words "healing" and "journey" are so misused that their repetition in the context of serious disease begins to induce nausea. Alt med advocates should stop co-opting perfectly good language and twisting it to serve the cause of quackery.

By Dangeous Bacon (not verified) on 27 Feb 2015 #permalink

@ Narad #224

Sorry to you as well if I was not clear in my explanations. Perhaps if you googled oncogenes and how cancer expresses, you would understand better. As I said before, The DNA is all our cells contains cancer genes. That doesn't meant that we have cancer. But we have the potential to.

A lot of new research is going into food as cancer prevention:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4336979/

And not that I have to defend myself, but my mother was a great doctor who was trained in the biggest hospital in the southern hemisphere, in South Africa. She was also an ayurvedic doctor, and oh... I'm Indian. So I do know a little bit about Ayurveda. And I do own a vitamix :) and just had a delicious smoothie after a long day of working with sick people at a real hospital.

And to Sally #165 - Jess book may have been about "lifestyle" and green smoothies and meditation etc (all things I actually do myself and agree with), but she ONLY got her book deal because she found fame from claiming she was "thriving with cancer" thanks to the Gerson Therapy and that she "chose carrots over chemo". As well, her blog was very pro-Gerson in the early days. After her mums death it was heavily edited and re-worded, blog posts were made private or disappeared, she starting recommending others to seek their own medical advice etc - basically it was all cleaned up to match her newly released "lifestyle" book, her mothers death from something she was supposedly "thriving with" and to not draw so much attention to Gerson Therapy (which had obviously failed her mum and despite her claims was failing her - maybe she was worried that if she didn't start downplaying the early source of her fame and had to admit that Gerson's had not worked she would lose her audience and big pay-checks?? Its hard to sell a blog and books based on thriving with cancer thanks to a particular treatment when you clearly are not).

Sadly for Jess and the many that follow her in the end the choices she made did not work. And I think her death is leading many to question her story - as a follower from the start, I certainly am.
And now that the truth is sadly out for all to see, those that followed Jess and/or still adhere to her beliefs don't really have a argument other then "how mean Orac (or anyone else that criticises Jess' lifestyle choice) is and that he should have waited longer". They can no longer try and shut people down by saying "its working for her" ... they can only try and silence people now by saying it is mean to speak ill of the dead. In other words lets not discuss how her claims were not true, how it did not work or how she maybe deceived people by suggesting she was thriving when she was not. Lets forget all that and just say people are mean and think of her poor family.
With out a doubt her death is tragic and very sad, but I think it is possible to still think Jess was a nice person and mourn her death, while still seeing the faults in her claims and heavily edited presentation of her life.

@Fiona #184: While I agree broadly with what Orac and those who believe in SBM are saying about this young lady, you have crossed a line with what you said.

I agree her promoting quackery was wrong. I disagree that she brought it on herself. No one brings cancer on themselves. She made an unfortunately choice not to follow her oncologists advice early on, and therefore her death was predictable . . . but she didn't bring int on herself.

She also did not avoid surgery for vanity's sake. This was a major, highly risky surgery that would have resulted in the total loss of her right arm and shoulder . . . her dominant arm IIRC. She not only has a MAJOR Body Image Disturbance to deal with, she has functional losses as well. It is very hard to build a prosthetic for an amputation that high up. It can be done. It is difficult. And it never would have functioned as well as her real arm.

@Erin #204: No one except maybe Fiona has essentially said I told you so. As for your 100% effectiveness rant . . .

It's true that SBM does not have a 100% success rate with most cancers. But no matter how bad SBM's success rate in treating cancer is, it always beats alt meds success rate, which is 0%.

@Kelly #215: Cranium uparectumis It's a little known spirocete; once you get it you are screwed.

@Jacob #216: there is such a circle of Hell: the 9th circle, reserved for traitors, according to Dante.

I would love it if all these Gerson proponents could answer a simple question:

What, on the cellular level, is the pathophysiological mechanism of function of a coffee enema? What is the mechanism of action? Pharmacokinetics? Adverse reactions?

As to adverse reactions, I can think of one straightaway: aside from dying because your cancer continued to metastisize, I can't imagine all that caffeine is good for your cardiovascular system. I imagine it can produce a profound tachycardia, maybe even PSVT. Then there's the profound electrolyte disturbances from TID enemas of any sort.

You people do realize that it goes in black, which is why it comes out black, right? So just how DO you know it removes any toxins from the body?

I've been following this story for a long time. Thank you for your bravery in speaking out about this. People like you save lives. This post is a respectful and fitting one.

I just believe that alternative medicine is a valid line of inquiry.

I get that you belevie this--I just don't understand, given the lack of evidence suporting the safety and efficacy of alternative treatments, why you beleive this.

It precedes modern medicine in its time and practice

Arguemnt from tradition, which doesn't suport the premise tht alternative medicine must possess value or would be likely to be instructive. After all, if these prior traditional therapies had worked as advertised there would have been no reason to develop new science-based treatments to replace them, would there?

and I think we can learn a lot from it, and incorporate it in conventional practice.</blockquote.

What do you believe we can learn from them such that we would expect to benefit by incorporating them into existing science based treatments, resulting in improved outcomes? Consider traditional treatments for epilepsy--bloodletting and trepanning. How would you propose we go about incorporating thesetraditional practices with our current protocols relying principally on the adminstration of anticonvulsant medications?

@ Dangeous Bacon #252

I never said that cancer was inevitable. I stated that we all had oncogenes (I should have used the term proto-oncogenes. My mistake.). And proto-oncogenes have the potential to become cancer.

@ JGC
I had written a long reply to you but it went into moderation for some reason.

@JGC
My reply went to #242

A lot of new research is going into food as cancer prevention

The question isn't whether a lot of research is going on, but if any of it has demonstrated the foods being researched are effective at preventing cancers. To the best of my knowledge the answer is no.

Jess was simply sharing her story and her journey.

No she wasn't; she was lying to her adoring "tribe" about her condition which was always deteriorating. She didn't cure her cancer nor did it go into remission at any time in spite of her many claims. Gah, why are people being so wilfully obtuse about being swindled.

By Science Mom (not verified) on 27 Feb 2015 #permalink

Typically replies go to reson because they contain multiple embedded links. It should so up once Orac has a chance to review it

Re: #241

The pharmaceutical companies get a patent for developing a deliverable drug after spending a billion bucks in making it, testing it and proving it to be efficacious through a labyrinth of paperwork and inspection by multiple outside bodies.

They may base their drug on a natural material like tree bark or plant roots or mould but what they sell in packets is free from the many other active ingredients present in the "natural" cure, some of which can adversely affect the patient up to and including killing them through allergic reactions or simple toxicity or which interfere with the desired active material. They also produce a standardised hygienic dose -- a 500mg ibuprofen tablet from a pharmacy contains 500mg of pure ibuprofen, not a thousand mg or twenty. Making natural willow-bark tea to combat a headache is a crapshoot in terms of how potent it turns out; understrength is preferred to delivering a lethal dose of "natural" aspirin, of course.

This is a matter of life and death. Now is absolutely the time to capitalize on the attention her death has caused. Posting immediately and not mincing words is worthwhile if even one person hears the wake-up call after reading Jess's sad story. You cannot treat cancer with vegetable juice and coffee enemas. If you have cancer please see an oncologist. Chemotherapy totally sucks, but it's your best shot at SURVIVING.

Let's hope her story has that effect.

I believe she meant well, truly, and her death is terribly sad. At thirty years old, she should have had 40 or 50 years left at least. No one can really argue that she would not have preferred to live several more decades, adjusting to the loss of one arm, rather than die at thirty.

Mawkish maudlin "sensitivity" over this is misplaced. It is to be hoped that others LEARN from her story. I think, based on some of the things she wrote in the last few weeks of her life, that that is what she would have wanted.

Medicine 200 years ago included practices like boring into a skull with a drill to alleviate psychosis.

Nancy, trepanning was practiced in Renaissance Europe most recently, but it is a considerably more archaic practice than you seem to be aware of. Why, in the name of G-d, are you lumping it in with "conventional" rather than "traditional" medicine?

Wow.... so extremely closed minded..... But i guess everyone with a god complex in allopathic medicine (there are some good allopathic Dr's out there so not saying all) would behave in this manner to keep the majority of the population sick and paying your wages rather than encouraging wellness at the risk of losing money (Big Pharma greed over health) ...... very sad world we live in when people like yourself tout allopathic as the "ONE SHOT" or "ONLY SHOT" ..... I feel sorry for you. R.I.P Jess you beautiful soul

By You make me Sick (not verified) on 27 Feb 2015 #permalink

#226
"Have you looking after your body, your internal organs , your brain? Are you eating healthy truly organic , vegan lifestyle?"

I object to the endless unseemly preoccupation with one's internal organs. Some people seem to truly derive a sense of purity and righteousness from "eating organic" or "vegan." Get over yourselves. It's always a good idea to eat healthy, but it's not a moral thing.

@JGC the poppy flower, THC for nausea.

Cannabis is no great shakes as far as CINV goes, particularly given hyperemesis syndrome.

the bark of the Yew tree in cancer treatment

I'm afraid that this is a colossal fail: the Pacific yew had no "alternative" medicinal use. The cytotoxic effect of Paclitaxel was discovered by data-mining.

Yes it's sad. I think part of the quackery aspect comes in how the Wellness Warrior Brand came about. This may get taken down, but it's from B-School, the Marie Forleo marketing school, and the Institute of Integrative nutrition.
http://www.jessainscough.com/tag/b-school/

that's where the branding and style comes from comes from.
I'm sorry she died but I feel quite angry when I re-read her blog post to be honest.
Not sure if the links work but quoted instead:
"I DRINK GREEN JUICE, EAT AN ORGANIC DIET, AND I MEDITATE; HOWEVER THE THING THAT ADDS THE MOST WEIGHT TO MY WELLNESS REGIME IS THE FACT THAT I DO SOMETHING I LOVE EVERY SINGLE DAY.

I wake up every morning and get to live the life of my dreams, doing work that never feels like work. And the sweet kicker is that I earn way more now than I could have ever achieved working for somebody else in the corporate world.
It was only a mere three years ago that I was living off a disability pension and my parent’s generosity. I was in my second year of Gerson Therapy, studying to be a health coach, blogging as a hobby, and totally confused about what my future was going to look like. I’d left my career as a journalist behind and, having become quite accustomed to putting my self-care above everything else, had no desire to go back to working a nine-to-five job. My days of eating three meals a day at my desk were well and truly behind me. Plus, I had this mega message brewing inside of me that I knew had the potential to change lives.
The head scratcher, however, was how I was going to make enough money to fund the lucrative, laid-back lifestyle I desired to live. Keeping the fridge stocked with fresh organic produce is pricey; let alone my penchant for nice clothes.
Then, thanks to divine timing, I stumbled across Marie Forleo, the dynamo online business teacher who shared my passion for hip-hop music and living your purpose to make a difference in the world.
I waited until the very last minute to sign up for her online business program, B-School. I struggled with the decision for the entire two weeks that it was on sale, and it wasn’t until my mum said to me, “Jess, if your gut is telling you to do this, the money will show up” that I decided to go for it. My mum, and my gut, was right. I charged the $1999 tuition fee to my credit card and never looked back.
B-School taught me everything I needed to know to turn my blogging hobby into a business. It taught me how to make money without being “sleazy” or “salesy”. It taught me how to build an epic platform for my message. It taught me how to organically attract an amazing tribe of people who trust me, which has snowballed astronomically over the years. Most of all, B-School gave me the skills to create a business that nourishes me.
Life & Business Since B-School

+ I earned six figures within a year of completing B-School and have doubled my income every year since
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+ I get to do something I love every single day
+ Self-care is still my number one priority
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#242
nancy d

chicago
February 27, 2015 @ JGC # 226

“I agree with you that our focus has been on what we know and what we HAVE studied and that current interventions and protocols can be effective, but inconsistently.”
Which interventions are inconsistently effective—alternative or science based? If the former, I’m not sure how you would distinguish an ineffective intervention from one that was inconsistently effective. If the latter, I don’t agree that science based treatment outcomes are inconsistent: while it’s true one cannot guarantee everyone who receives a specific type of intervention will have a successful outcome you can accurately predict how many, of a sufficiently large sample pool, will have successful outcomes. That was the case with Jess, if you’ll recall: standard care couldn’t guarantee her she would achieve ten years survival but could give her a 77% likelihood of doing so.

And I’m not cheering on the side of alternative medicine saying its one or the other. I’m saying that we need to be open to ideas…

Only when there’s good reason to be open to that new idea—e.g., prior biological plausibility, or preliminary evidence suggesting potential efficacy with respect to new ideas about medical interventions.

Medicine 200 years ago included practices like boring into a skull with a drill to alleviate psychosis.

Actually, it talked about boring into the skull to release the demons and ,ealevolaent spirits possessing the subject.

And people who talked of a therapeutic approach were the quacks.

As I recall the proposed remedies of 200 years ago they were.

Before medications were concentrated pills they were tinctures and herbs and their active ingredients hadn’t been discovered yet.

Nor could they be measured, dosages quantified, etc. but I’m not seeing your point here.

To practice good science, besides reading and citing articles, is to be open to exploring new possibility.
Again: not all new possibilities. All ideas are not created equal. Being open to the idea that all cancers are actually fungal infections, for example, or that bleach enemas represent an effective treatment for autism spectrum disorders, isn’t to practice good science.

Medicine is in perpetual innovation. The apothecaries that inspired all the thousands of wonder drugs we have now like, digitalis, aspirin, senakot, colchicine (a cancer drug)… those were all plants once.

Of course, this example isn’t alternative medicine: it’s a field of science based medicine termed pharmacognosy.

What I’m saying is that within the arena of alternative medicine… we have the potential to, and are making new discoveries that can work in conjunction with current medicine, or as stand alone practice. Whatever the case may be.

What new discoveries are we making that could work in conjunction with current medicine to improve outcomes? Provide a couple of examples, and include a discussion of the evidence demonstrating that integrating them does offer a likelihood of improved outcomes

We have the means now, to study compounds that occur in ‘natural’ foods, that people just weren’t interested in studying before.

We’ve had that means for decades: every major pharmaceutical company has programs dedicated to screening natural product extracts to identify biologically active small molecules.

For example, I am currently involved in research with the reishi mushroom. the whole mushroom arena in general may greatly impact cancer treatment in the future. Mushrooms are widely used in Chinese medicine.

That they’re widely used in Chinese medicine is established. That Chinese medicine products that incorporate mushrooms are effective as treatments for the ailments they’re prescribed for is not.
Here’s the first article that popped up when I searched, but you can go ahead and search for yourself.
Re. your article on Ganoderma lucidum: again, this is pharmacognosy and not alternative medicine).

Here’s a literature review that includes a section on nutraceuticals and cancer that you can look at, loads of references in this bibliography:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4336979/

Turmeric and other caretenoids have been under the scope for a while and curcumin is soon to be included in the inventory for some big pharma brands. Thanks to the hype from the ayurvedic quacks, it got some attention (as did ginger and garlic). And is found to work by its own and synergistically with chemo meds for elevated results. So many articles came up when I searched for it that I’m just linking you to the search page:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/term=curcumin+and+cancer
Here’s an article about phytonutrients and their potential role in fighting cancer:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25711533

I’ll stop here but if you want me to I can find you more references. I’m sure you could just use pub med to search for the info you needed.

The reason there isn’t the vast literature is because this IS the future. Neutraceuticals is the future… and thanks to the popularization of alternative therapies a lot of botanicals are getting attention they otherwise wouldn’t have had. I won’t go into the whole pharma spiel… but that too. Research goes where there’s proven to be money.

The stress pathway is a complicated one, and if you did some reading you could figure out how it might be logical to deduce that it is a contributor to cancer. It is generally accepted in the medical community that it is a contributor/exacerbator to many other diseases as well. It’s a difficult concept to study. But here’s one article I found
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3037818/

“I agree with you that our focus has been on what we know and what we HAVE studied and that current interventions and protocols can be effective, but inconsistently.

Which interventions are inconsistently effective—alternative or science based? If the former, I’m not sure how you would distinguish an ineffective intervention from one that was inconsistently effective. If the latter, I don’t agree that science based treatment outcomes are inconsistent: while it’s true one cannot guarantee everyone who receives a specific type of intervention will have a successful outcome you can accurately predict how many, of a sufficiently large sample pool, will have successful outcomes. That was the case with Jess, if you’ll recall: standard care couldn’t guarantee her she would achieve ten years survival but could give her a 77% likelihood of doing so.

And I’m not cheering on the side of alternative medicine saying its one or the other. I’m saying that we need to be open to ideas…

Only when there’s good reason to be open to that new idea—e.g., prior biological plausibility, or preliminary evidence suggesting potential efficacy with respect to new ideas about medical interventions.

Medicine 200 years ago included practices like boring into a skull with a drill to alleviate psychosis.

Actually, it talked about boring into the skull to release the demons and ,ealevolaent spirits possessing the subject.

And people who talked of a therapeutic approach were the quacks.

As I recall the proposed remedies of 200 years ago they were.

Before medications were concentrated pills they were tinctures and herbs and their active ingredients hadn’t been discovered yet.

Nor could they be measured, dosages quantified, etc. but I’m not seeing your point here.

To practice good science, besides reading and citing articles, is to be open to exploring new possibility.

Again: not all new possibilities. All ideas are not created equal. Being open to the idea that all cancers are actually fungal infections, for example, or that bleach enemas represent an effective treatment for autism spectrum disorders, isn’t to practice good science.

Medicine is in perpetual innovation. The apothecaries that inspired all the thousands of wonder drugs we have now like, digitalis, aspirin, senakot, colchicine (a cancer drug)… those were all plants once.

Of course, this example isn’t alternative medicine: it’s a field of science based medicine termed pharmacognosy.

What I’m saying is that within the arena of alternative medicine… we have the potential to, and are making new discoveries that can work in conjunction with current medicine, or as stand alone practice. Whatever the case may be.

What new discoveries are we making that could work in conjunction with current medicine to improve outcomes? Provide a couple of examples, and include a discussion of the evidence demonstrating that integrating them does offer a likelihood of improved outcomes

We have the means now, to study compounds that occur in ‘natural’ foods, that people just weren’t interested in studying before.

We’ve had that means for decades: every major pharmaceutical company has programs dedicated to screening natural product extracts to identify biologically active small molecules.

For example, I am currently involved in research with the reishi mushroom. the whole mushroom arena in general may greatly impact cancer treatment in the future. Mushrooms are widely used in Chinese medicine.

That they’re widely used in Chinese medicine is established. That Chinese medicine products that incorporate mushrooms are effective as treatments for the ailments they’re prescribed for is not.
Here’s the first article that popped up when I searched, but you can go ahead and search for yourself.
Re. your article on Ganoderma lucidum: again, this is pharmacognosy and not alternative medicine).

Are you eating healthy truly organic , vegan lifestyle?

That reminds me that the yahrzeit for my "truly organic , vegan" best friend is coming up.

#268 Being a comment Ninja may momentarily help you alleviate the feelings of despair and frustration you feel, but they do not advance your case. In fact they damage it.

And 'Allopath' as opposed to... what... 'Homeopath' I suppose?

By Gemman Aster (not verified) on 27 Feb 2015 #permalink

Sorry to you as well if I was not clear in my explanations. Perhaps if you googled oncogenes and how cancer expresses, you would understand better.

Nancy, I'm not the one with the "understanding" problem.

@nat 271 - thank you.

I last saw Jess about a year ago. She was a truly beautiful shining person and, yes, she looked like she was thriving despite having terminal epitheloid sarcoma. While I admire her commitment to healthy eating and lifestyle choices, I don't agree with her promotion of non-evidence based treatments.

In her last post she said, "I've always been numb to my emotions, coating everything in positivity"; she was anxious her diet and thoughts migh manifest progression of her disease. Knowing her local posse (two of whom have cancer) and all of whom have alternative health/wellness businesses (but lack scientific qualifications), the peer pressure to stay her course must have been massive. I don't think Jess ever really could have come to accept her diagnosis given her social environment.

Her intimate social network is networked into Marie Forleo's B-School, the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and several other powerful online groups. The numbers of budding and practising health coaches following Jess' lead is staggering. This is why Orac's posts are critically important.

As I write these things, my heart goes out to Jess' family and friends. It is a tremendously sad situation. Even though the timing is awkward, I appreciate Orac's voice in this matter. I honestly hope some of the wannabes, and maybe even her closest friends and mine, might examine their biases and re-consider a SBM approach.

Yes an old article but proves how Jess spoke about Gerson providing a cure and remission: http://mobile.abc.net.au/news/2010-04-07/33482

So maybe she never actually said she was in remission or cured but it was definitely a part of the persona she promoted. I can't imagine the loss and devastation she must have felt when her mother died and she had played an active role in the management plan of that process. So vulnerable and so misguided. Gersons organisation have a lot to answer for in the way they court people in these situations. It's truly criminal.

i feel sorry for the author of this article... but i do wish that closed minds came with closed mouths. you should be embarrassed.

Nancy, trepanning was practiced in Renaissance Europe most recently

Not... quite.

you should be embarrassed.

She lived a lie and it killed her. Why do you want to shoot the messenger?

Amanda, I agree about closed minds and closed mouths. Especially someone with dangerous ideas like Gersons. Closed-mindedness and cancer are a lethal combination. It's a good thing we can come to more balanced perspectives on things with blogs like this one.

What a sad day for Jess and her family. I read this and your previous post and wasn't sure what your motivation was behind calling her choices "quackery". Then I read about your background and it all made sense. And not in a good way.

First, you repeatedly spout about how she encouraged people to follow her health warrior lead. What the what?! She encouraged people to investigate taking care of themselves? That's kah-Ray-zee, right? Only it isn't. People are not sheep and can make decisions for themselves. She only presented one alternative. The same way a surgeon who has been training to find disease and use big pharma to
Eradicate it, suggests.

Furthermore, you present her as some masterful cult leader. She used her strength and knowledge to share her journey with the world. I just find it frighteningly bizarre that you've twice faulted her for that.

Finally, someone already pointed out that you've regurgitated statistics with some vigor. You've made it clear that you think of she'd allowed a surgeon to do the one thing their trained for, lopping off body parts, that Jess would be alive. There is zero certainty in life and even less when it comes to chemotherapy and traditional can we treatments. I'm fascinated with how you can be so certain she'd be alive today.

When we are scared and threatened, we behave like small children who've just lost our favorite toy. We cry and yell and act like well, a child who just lost her favorite toy. Those who are educated look at all the facts, alternatives, and options. We see how traditional and alternative treatments could work together. We don't get bent because a person refused to be cut open, mutilated, and pumped full of toxic chemicals. Oh, and by we I mean you.

I can see the value of alternatives. I spent almost ten years under the care of a traditional group of doctors. I had every test, was poked, prodded, and told there was zero to be done. Finally, agter conducting a literature review regarding alternative medical treatments, I found a functional medicine doctor. He saw my body as a whole not separate systems functioning independently. With a few blood tests he identified the problem and was able to eliminate my pain.

Should I have continued down the traditional path, maybe had my gall bladder removed? Then found out it was something f else entirely? No, I should have done what I did. Used my brain to investigate and heal myself by being surrounded by those who could heal me.

Yeah, because no one dies as a result of conventional Cancer treatment. For example Chemo has a 100% cure rate.

Many, many people survive as a result of conventional cancer treatment.

The Gerson method has never cured a single person. And it's killed a few. Who died of the treatment, not the cancer..

Using someone’s death as an instrument to enable you to hate on beliefs you don’t agree with and spread propaganda… Nice.

Where is the propaganda, the hate, or the disagreement?

Gerson therapy doesn't work. That's not a belief. Nor is it hate-based. It's just a fact.

Not… quite.

Well, that's disturbing. I guess I should have specified "as a generally recognized 'medical' practice.'" I guess I had heard of some present-day enthusiasts... it's supposed to let the Spirit in or something, I gather.

Science Babe on Facebook linked this blog post. Many Woo believers read Science Babe.

Rose T, nat and Meg neatly illustrate the darker side of alt med's 'shining light':
advocates paint an image that is nearly impossible to fulfill -which leaves followers feeling awfully inadequate; a precisely planned business scheme lies at the heart of this purely natural method- in addition, intergroup actions keep members who question the programming in line.

Because I observe ongoing alt media schemes, this sounds disgustingly familiar to me. Although the particular charlatans I monitor do not focus on cancer, fear of cancer is amongst the many ploys with which they bilk the public.

Thank you so much for your contribution here!

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 27 Feb 2015 #permalink

Very untasteful article. Modern conventional medicine has killed many people too. I find you to be disrespectful, know it all and I certainly wouldn't want any cancer treatment to be done by you if I ever needed it.

it’s supposed to let the Spirit in

Or out, whatever. I started looking for one photo set that I've seen, but then I discovered that there's an pre-Pepsigate SB post on the subject.

@Narad, I'm not talking about how things were discovered and yes, I was talking about how something was discovered.

I never said THC for CINV, though I am aware of medications that came out years ago with synthetic THC and used at times and tested for CINV.

The direction of using oral marijuana was not for nausea, but for appetite increase as she had no appetite and wasn't nauseated.

ACK! I need to read back when I stop several times in the middle of a comment.

"@Narad, I’m not talking about how things were discovered and yes, I was talking about how something was discovered."

@Narad, I’m not talking about how things were discovered and yes, I was talking about *Taxol*.

colchicine (a cancer drug)

My head's going to explode.

Orac's blog presents the truth on 'quackery' in an authentic and respectful manner. I teach business ethics and those individuals who promote 'cures for cancer' without any evidence, represent the lowest of the low. They prey on vulnerable people who have the most to lose - their lives. Sadly, the many 1000s who fly to the Gerson clinics or abandon evidence-based medicine are not here anymore.

I’m not talking about how things were discovered and yes, I was talking about *Taxol*.

Let's review the original:

So people don’t realize that “alternative” treatments that show promise, get attention and are studied?

Such as pot helping glaucoma, THC helping nausea, the bark of the Yew tree in cancer treatment, poppy flowers in pain control, right now, cannibas oil and seizures.

The Pacific yew was never an "'alternative' treatment."

This post is disgusting. Whether or not you personally agree with the choices that this woman made it was her life and her choice to make.

Whether or not your post has validity from a scientific standpoint, where is the humanity? Where is your softness or caring that this was, in fact, a human being who lived a short life and leaves behind family and friends whose lives will be forever changed by her absence.

And while perhaps other medical treatments could have extended her life there's no way that anyone can know whether or not her life would've been extended. She could have tried other interventions and had a poor quality of life. And she may still have died.

While you have a right to do as you please and post what you please, it's kind of sad that we live in a world were people can actually justify "told you so'ing" someone who literally just died.

By Sadden by this Blog (not verified) on 27 Feb 2015 #permalink

Colchicine:
Adverse effects
Side-effects include gastrointestinal upset and neutropenia. High doses can also damage bone marrow and lead to anemia and also cause hair loss.

Is there the above true? If so, a medication that causes neutropenic in a cancer patient being treated for this cancer?

Also from my quick read, it seems to basically be an anti-inflammatory and pretty toxic and a lot of different medications used with and this that are a concern.

So.. Exactly what does this supposedly do for cancer?

@Narad, maybe I'm not being clear.. I was more addressing medication from natural things, which is why I put alternative in quotes.

I know a lot of our "Big Pharma" medications are derived from natural sources, but some, not all alternative medicine people, don't understand that. That was what I was basically addressing.

The direction of using oral marijuana was not for nausea but for appetite increase as she had no appetite and wasn’t nauseated.

Now I have no idea what you're talking about. Once again, I'm responding to this:

So people don’t realize that “alternative" treatments that show promise, get attention and are studied?

Such as pot helping glaucoma, THC helping nausea, the bark of the Yew tree in cancer treatment, poppy flowers in pain control, right now, cannibas [sic] oil and seizures.

I am disgusted that you can criticise someone you did not know about their choices in their own path of healthcare. I knew Jess and the reason she chose this path is none of your business, if others followed her beliefs well that's up to them as well. Just because you do not have faith in this form of therapy does not mean it's wrong. No more wrong than an individual having religious beliefs. I'm not religious but hey if that's what gives them a little hope and faith in their life, well good for them! Your a nasty piece of work to criticise anyone's individual choices in life!!

Her family probably close down her social media website NOT TO HIDE anything but to prevent disrespectful comments of I TOLD YOU SO! It is a time for the family to grieve. My heart goes out to her dad! So heartbreaking for him. Rip Jess.

I know a lot of our “Big Pharma” medications are derived from natural sources, but some, not all alternative medicine people, don’t understand that.

What? This is a standard freaking trope, and the "Yew tree" error, which you fell into, is as common as dirt.

The tedious remarks about "Big Pharma" are pretty hilarious considering Jess girl was charging $1,491 for a book and a clutch of vacuous inspirational statement.

Advice - if "stress" causes cancer then we are all doomed. Try to live a life without stress - good luck with that!

By Jane Ostentatious (not verified) on 27 Feb 2015 #permalink

@Narad,

Marinol, a THC drug used to treat nausea and vomiting caused by chemo. It is a synthetic THC. I assume the medication is still around.

I had mentioned earlier that doctors do sometimes tell patients about alternative things that are known to work. I know of a doctor that has told patients that have issues with their appetite when going through chemo about using oral marijuana, as that works to stimulate the appetite for many.

He never suggested oral marijuana for nausea, but there is medication specifically for chemo nausea with THC.. Marinol.

@Narad, I have no idea what you are talking about, as I think you are reading things into what I was saying, that just aren't there.

As I said before, The DNA is all our cells contains cancer genes cancer cannot be cured.

FTFY, Nancy. Now please get back to the substance of #268.

So.. Exactly what does this supposedly do for cancer?

"Dr." Nancy will no doubt "google a wiki" and be right back with blobovian condescension. It's not difficult to sort out.*

* In other news, the whole William D. Drake polyploidy thing proved idiotic in practice.

“Dr.” Nancy will no doubt “google a wiki” and be right back with blobovian condescension.

No, no, it's the Internet Google.

I have no idea what you are talking about, as I think you are reading things into what I was saying, that just aren’t there.

Am I missing some comments from before you added a location to your moniker?

@Narad

Yes, I had made the first comment about my sister having Hodgkins and other cancers and my uncle being cured of Hodgkins with experimental treatments approx 60 years ago. A Kelly showed up after a few comments and added a last initial to her name and one showed up with a location. Then a Kelly in support of alternative medicine showed up, so I added the location then, so there would be less confusion.

This is a very sad outcome, however I can't help but wonder, how many gullible people in addition to her mum and herself is this woman responsible for indirectly killing? I'm astounded by the cognitive dissonance from supporters claiming she survived 7 years as a result of the therapy when actually she only lived as long as the statistics indicated she probably would. She and her mum used Gerson therapy and died unnecessarily early, surely that's the best indication to avoid it completely. And before I get attacked, I don't care what they did to their own bodies; their body, their choice, however influencing others to avoid evidence-based medicine is just unethical.

A friend of mind chose alternative treatments over chemo- stuff like mistletoe- and died at age 32 of a likely treatable leukemia. I was shocked. She kept her condition pretty quiet until the end when she was trying to raise some money for living expenses.

She didn't make a name for herself promoting the quackery she tried. She didn't profit from it or try to convince others to do it.

And you know what? Orac didn't blog about her. I wonder why not?

I also am uncomfortable with the repeated focus on Jess's beauty. Yes, she was very easy to look at (whether you're male or female), and it can sound like sour grapes to complain that so many of the tributes mention her beauty first. But I am uncomfortable with the seeming implication that her death is especially tragic because she was so physically lovely.

Are preventable deaths from cancer less unfortunate if the patient was plain or average looking, or just not in the bloom of youth? I think it is natural to feel that the deaths of young people are particularly sad, but the focus on her beauty is excessive.

That was hard to read; condolences to those she left behind.

I'd be interested in thoughts from folks here about choosing to forego treatment for illness that is likely, but not certainly, terminal. I've found myself pondering this; I'm not sick, but as I've gotten older and witnessed some relatives pass away recently, I've thought about what I'd do if I found myself in such a situation. Fighting and dying in bed vs accepting one's fate and living as well for as long...how does one make that choice?

By cheb mc herfer… (not verified) on 27 Feb 2015 #permalink

Thank-you for posting this now, while many are googling Jess' name. Hopefully there is at least 1 person out there who came across this and is now starting to question subscribing to this form of 'treatment'.

Would this post even exist if Jessica opted for surgery and was one of the 28% that died? When is quality of life figured into these statistics?

I wish people would look at this objectively instead of condemning a brave and inspirational young woman. I dare say that it wasn't the alternative therapies that killed her but rather the stress of her mother's death and her difficulties in dealing with it. Don't overlook the fact that she had conventional treatment first -- isolated high dose chemo in her arm. Chemo is great for initially killing cancer cells off and getting the cancer under control but let's face it, it often returns or progresses. In Jess's case, it worked to the extent that it got rid of the cancer for a year. Then, the cancer came back. Why? Clearly there must've been a root cause that wasn't being addressed. Her immune system must not have been functioning optimally to stop the cancer cells from reforming. After all, she got the cancer when she was living an exhaustive and unhealthy party lifestyle. Therefore it makes sense to adopt a healthy way of living, including organic juice and supplements. This will boost the immune system and help it tackle the cancer. Indeed, the cancer stopped progressing and even began to retreat, according to her accounts. Interestingly, it became aggressive again at the time of her mother's illness and passing. Why? Because emotional stress has a huge negative impact on the immune system's ability to function. It effectively stops it from doing the job it's supposed to do! It is very difficult for any type of therapy to work when the the body is not functioning well. Even if she had her arm amputated, who's to say that the cancer might not pop up on the other arm?

RIP Jess. Your passing is very sad indeed.

You're an idiot

Hi Orac -

Our website would love to republish this great post on Jess Ainscough. I have sent you an email.

Look forward to hearing from you.

Amy

nancy d, who self-identifies as a "medical doctor" has erroneously claimed here that:

"There is no cure for cancer, conventional or alternative."
"we have cancer genes programmed into our DNA, all of us do"

...equated Gerson therapy (and its wads of supplements and coffee enemas) with a healthy diet, and cited senna as a recent example of Big Pharma taking advantage of an alternative remedy.

Nancy, you are tremendously misinformed, and I can only hope that your practice (whatever it is) does not involve treating or counseling cancer patients.

By Dangerous Bacon (not verified) on 27 Feb 2015 #permalink

She died of a broken heart... Rest in peace Jess xx

It is so cool to know that science already knows everything! Since everything that has not been proven is false we can save loads of money on research. Ol' Gerson was a quack who was just trying to make a buck off his carrot juice and coffee enemas. I'm headed down to McDonald's right now for a Big Mac and all you alternate medicine wackos can kiss my fat behind. When I get cancer I look forward to chemo/radiation/surgery. Bring it on, baby!

By BigPharmaNut (not verified) on 27 Feb 2015 #permalink

It's funny because "quackery" originally meant "competition"
Hundreds of years ago natural therapies DID work. It is by our own human activity that we create cancers and diseases that cannot always be cured by natural therapies. That is not natures fault. It is ours.

For the people scolding: it is rarely immoral to tell the truth.
They don't like the truth, that's all.
In this case, telling the truth about how this woman courted death and incited others to do the same is the only moral thing to do.

I agree with psot #296...This post is a disgrace, firstly because of the lack of heart and timing. Secondly, you have purposefully picked on a person who can not defend herself to promote YOUR belief (and it is just a belief) that anything that is not within your fanatic supposed "scientific" idealism is false. However you have not given ANY proof that what you said is correct. Why? Its all heresay and because your own foolish ego in its attempt to portray her death as a result of her freewill choice to attempt healing with diet and natural remedies and your frantic attempt to discredit anything natural or alternative, you have shown that she died as a result of her sadness of her mother passing. The reason being is that when we are sad and depressed our immune system decreases its ability to fight, so in fact it was her lowered immunity caused by her grief from her mother passing that allowed the condition to take hold of her and win. Prior to her mother passing she was doing well and was able to manage it..... Now I do not know even that was the cause, but based on your "evidence" it is far more likely the case... Get a grip of reality

Such sad news of her loss. I followed her blog on and off for a few years. I really respected how she embraced wellness and she did in fact inspire a lot of people to take a good hard look at their own health. In that respect she left a positive lasting impression on so many and i really commend her for it.

The flip side is that she, intentionally or not, promoted a non traditional approach to cancer treatment that is as far as i can tell, scientifically unproven to have any positive effects in cancer treatment. In fact Jess and her mothers sad passing only gives strength to the argument that it doesn't work.

It was her path and she, like anyone, has the right to choose and share their story. HOWEVER when you start profiting from it i believe it is your duty to be 100% honest. Your readers have a right to know the full picture, not the edited version, especially when you are influencing peoples cancer treatment choices, and i don't believe she was 100% honest towards the end.

I was shocked when i heard she passed because whilst she blogged that she was not doing well, she never alluded to exactly how sick she really was, and she must have known. I think it has taken a lot of people by surprise as it did me.

Regardless it is a sad loss and my heart really goes out to her partner and father.

I don't like people saying all alternative medicine is quackery. Many doctors work alongside natural therapies to cure cancers. Many herbs and supplements do help with cancer. I wish people wouldn't see the world as so white and black. It really is way more than 50 shades of grey. I wish Jess the best on the next phase of her souls journey.

One thing that you cannot deny is how well she kept herself emotionally and spiritually before she started to decline and if that is what all the natural therapy did for her then I would say that she would have been happy and at peace with her path and that is all that matters not your opinion.
People that try to judge others of their choices because they are different need to get over themselves, there is nothing unusual about people dying from cancer and I think you are forgetting that there is still a large population of people on conventional treatment that still die so your article just appears to be a deliberate attempt to rubbish her which is disgusting.
Jess's journey inspired people because of her spirit not because of her looks she had a beautifull soul and regardless of what you think there is nothing to say that chemo would have done her any better, chances are like her mother the type of cancers that they had were complicated, really well done to her for keeping herself happy while managing this disease.
A sad time indeed, and for all the people I have ever known and lost to cancer Jess was a shining star amongst all the evils of this disease, she will be remembered by those that aspired to her and for all that she gave to others, may she now rest in peace, its not about how, why and when people die its about what they did while they were here, sweet sweet dreams Jess I know you are happy and at peace xxx

I have said this before and it looks like time to say it again: "choosing natural healing" is a euphemism for "rejecting treatment while engaging in elaborate anxiety reduction rituals." You may luck into spontaneous remission, and if that fails there still might be time for an intervention - albeit at greatly reduced rates of success. Just look at what happened to that self styled supergenius, Steven Jobs.

The woo woo types swarm at the mention of these homely truths, sneering at lack of respect for the poor dumb dead corpse, but you know what? I have no respect for these loons who routinely get people killed - dead - so they can screech all they want.

By Robert L Bell (not verified) on 27 Feb 2015 #permalink

DOES ANYONE ELSE THINK THAT MAKING A BUSINESS OUT OF YOUR OWN CANCER JOURNEY IS A BIT OBSCENE?

....particularly when you are implying that you are getting better when you are not?

.....particularly when this is giving false hope to a large community of followers?

Jess Ainscough aside, this whole phenomenon is quite disturbing and if you are going to profit off the back of selling false hope, then you should expect that you will attract this kind of criticism. I didn't know Jess from a bar of soap, so I have no vested interest In her story. I think that it is sad she has passed away, but as a public figure, her story deserves critique. It is par for the territory.

Chris.

Wow. What a disgusting human being you are. It's so sad you have absolutely no idea about the greater workings of life and the world we live in. If anything you have highlighted your ignorance and that of the western medical field. There's a place for both sides ofcourse but to think chopping things out and off is the solution is disheartening. I hope you are never challenged in a similar way... Distasteful of you, sad that people listen to your nonsense. Above all you yourself are aware that this was never a great prognosis. I am happy for her to have had a better quality of life from herifestule choices then be sick from ridiculous treatments which just kill the body's systems with their toxic nature. May you see the light

By Sarah levilson (not verified) on 27 Feb 2015 #permalink

What ridiculous twaddle. When does anybody have the gall or the moral right to cruelly take away another's right to access the treatment they wish to choose. And the cynical snarky tone seems to imply that death equals failure. What rot. We all will die and the medical/pharmaceutical industry takes countless scalps across our planet every single day. I will not give my power over my body away and I will not give my self respect away. Nor should anyone else. If u like the medical model go for it; if u like the holistic therapies, go for it; if u want both, go for it. Its your body and your life.

"She had one shot"?

One shot at having this kind of life you mean?: http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2013/07/extremely_rare_cancer_epitheli…

Your 'facts' are disingenuous. Jess only had a 55% chance at best of living 10 years. She lived 7 years where she felt empowered and brave.

You say her mother's cancer was "easy to cure" because it was breast cancer. What? I've had 3 people close to me die of breast cancer in recent years.

I have to say, someone who is so juvenile as to post such a gleeful post as this the day after a girl dies of cancer should not work in the cancer field.

Orac makes a sensitive and factual original post; then the science based regulars all take a similar tone. But the tone trolls swarm in with insults, name calling and death wishes all the while braying about how edjmakated they are and how their hearts overflow with love.
Message to the trolls. You are overflowing all right but with neither love, respect nor knowledge.

By Ursa Major (not verified) on 27 Feb 2015 #permalink

Thanks Orac. As Jess's Cosuin it's really great to see that the vultures have already began swooping. I hope one day you wake up and realise that the people whom you write about are people who have feelings, who have families. In your last post, about my Aunties death, you accused my cousin of causing her death. I let that go, Orac, but not this.

Jess was the most beautiful, kind and caring person I have ever met. She shared her story with the world, yes, it was remedic for her and helped quite a few people have hope. Jess never once said that the Gerson therapy was better than conventional methods, rather she said it worked for her. Her cancer was a very rare and very aggressive type. She was going to die regardless, Jess chose to die in a way that suited her. The Gerson therapy extended her life two years past the 'expiry date' her doctors had given her.

Orac, you said in the comments that we (my family) had taken down her facebook, videos, etc. in order to cover the whole thing up. No, we did not. We did it to hide away from people such as yourself, whom fill our hearts with sorrow. Do you know what it's like to lose someone dear to you? I'm assuming so. Imagine people posting such judgemental posts only a day after their passing. You must remember, Jess has a fiancé, a father, a cousin, an a uncle, an Aunty, a nephew, a niece etc. etc.

I , myself am a science enthusiast. I am completing a degree in science, while working as a research assistant. Yes, my cousin decided to go against what science recommended (at least what our knowledge of science recommended), but Orac you must admit, we don't know much, especially surrounding cancer. Sure, we may know some, but in the scheme of things surrounding cancer, we know nothing.

You are entitled to your opinion, yes. But please, in future, realise each person you write about is a human being, as human beings they deserve respect. Not only do they deserve respect, but so do the people whom love them. Respect my family and close friends by allowing us to mourn.

If this post were made a month later and were less condescending I wouldn't have completely disregarded your opinion.

You call yourself a scientist Orac? Scientists are supposed to report on finding's without bias. Sure this is a blog and you are able to write what you feel, but please, if you are going to write such bias posts do it on a blog that is not entitled "Science Blogs".

Thanks again, Orac.

By Rebecca Anscough (not verified) on 27 Feb 2015 #permalink

In case any of Jess’s family and friends come across this post some day and read this far into the comments:

I am sorry for your loss.

Rebecca really needs to wake up: The "Wellness Warrior" promoted anti-science bullshit that has the potential to kill people.

This is not something that "beautiful" people would ever do.

How about admitting, Rebecca, what we *do* know: coffee enemas throughout the day are not any kind of effective treatment for cancer. Nor is eating clay. This stuff is loopy nonsense and it probably cost your cousin her life.

By Craig Thomas (not verified) on 27 Feb 2015 #permalink

Yes, my cousin decided to go against what science recommended (at least what our knowledge of science recommended), but Orac you must admit, we don’t know much, especially surrounding cancer. Sure, we may know some, but in the scheme of things surrounding cancer, we know nothing.

First, I want to repeat that I think Ms Ainscough had every right to choose how she wanted to live her life. That said, I'm sorry if this is going to sound callous or disrespectful, but the fact we don't know everything doesn't mean anything is possible. Gerson's protocol, for example, has been studied, numerous times, and time and time again found ineffective. Same goes for many of the lifestyle therapies like diet, for treating cancer. There might be a minor preventative effect, but no evidence for actually treating or managing it, let alone curing it. And she did claim it cured her, several times, while promoting her lifestyle and her advice and her books.

Meanwhile chemotherapy, radiation and surgery up to and including amputation has also been studied, and while not perfect, have been found to help better the odds.

But I'm not writing this to judge her. I repeat, she had every right to live her life any way she chose.

But none of it means Gerson therapy has any anti-cancer effect though, or any of the lifestyle choices she made, despite her claims and enthusiastic recommendatetions, and despite you claiming "The Gerson therapy extended her life two years past the ‘expiry date’ her doctors had given her."

Once more, she had every right to live her life any way she chose. I also believe she had a right to build a career of out her situation if she so chooses, including talking about Gerson therapy and others, how she experienced them. If she promoted the therapies to others, and if she inflated and exaggerated the successes, if she claimed she was cured by it when she wasn't, that I feel, crossed the line.

I understand this is a sad time for you, and you have my condolences, but - and as a science enthusiast I hope you agree with me here - claiming efficacy with therapies that have none is a disservice to everybody else battling cancer. Everybody. talking about therapies is one thing, promoting them without something concrete to back it up is another matter altogether.

Not here to say told you so he is simply pointing out she was deceptive when she tried to change her story "never claimed cure" rubbish. As clearly for sometime she did claim she had cured her cancer. Although I truely believe she wanted to think she had. There was a point it became a lie and she didn't come out and say it didn't work.
My husband had a stage 4 lymphoma - this is a curable cancer with conventional medical treatment. He has been in remission for 3 years. The amount of people saying you should try alternative medicine was incredible. Oh I can't believe you are putting all those chemicals in your body etc. People who preach I cured myself yet still have the cancer are DANGEROUS. People die because they believe these LIES. People need to be called out when they spread misinformation.

Not all cancers are the same. Some are aggressive fast growing cancers and some are indolent (slow growing) cancers. These so called cured usually only live for extended periods because they have the indolent kind of cancers.

I'm sorry but it seems strange to me that this year she started conventional treatments and soon after dies .... For 7 years she has been living with cancer and being able to carry out a pretty normal life.... Her mums death brought a lot of stress to her which can't be good ... But does no one else see the treatment as a possible cause of her death ....? Anyway whatever the case it's extreamly sad and whether we agree with her choices or not she was a fighter and a beautiful soul !

Sadly, I was expecting to hear this news.

My condolences to her family.

Unfortunately, quack therapies just aren't the answer to cancer. It's a shame that a young woman has lost her life to an illness for which there is treatment.

From the Gerson Therapy website I found on the home page. Very clear and easy to read. This is just a single paragraph of the situations the website states that it may not work. The only thing that gets be about this blog post is the claims that Jess led people astray with her choice of medical treatment. Jess stated the facts, she was thriving on the diet. She had never felt better. Another thing worth noting is that Jess never said she was going to live forever with cancer or that she had beaten it. She lives with it and ahe lives well. Would I do it.... I don't think so. I don't have the guts. She knew there was a chance it wouldnt work, but she hoped it would. The other thing that annoys me is the assumption that Jess was hiding her arm from her tribe.
Maybe she just didn't want to look at herself in photos and constantly see it. Maybe she remembered she had seen it enough.

In some cases, the disease process is too far advanced and the immune system is too weakened to respond fully to the therapy. Some diseases are not treatable with the Gerson Therapy (see Contraindications and Cautions for the Gerson Therapy) and others do not respond sufficiently for the Gerson Therapy to be used as the sole form of treatment. Ultimately, it isn’t possible to predict with 100% accuracy who will be able to reverse their condition using the Gerson Therapy. What the Gerson Therapy can truly offer anyone is a better quality of life, even in cases where full recovery is not possible. Successful recovery is on a case- by-case basis.

come on. Many many more cancer patients died when using conventional treatment. In fact, it happen every day. Why we blame Jessica who was in a such difficult situation? In fact , I remember a UK girl with cancer who go through amputation and cancer still come back and killed her. My relative got aggressive cancer a few years ago. She went through chemo and recurring. Then stronger chemo and followed with bone marrow transplant. It recur again 5 months later. The doctor told her to sort out things like funeral and will. But she tried alternative therapy, not gerson therapy. she shall die in 2013 and now she still live well. Can any person explain to me? You can not say she made a wrong choice. I have seen cancer patient died when going through initial chemo treatment.

I for one would not choose this sort of therapy, instead of western medicine, I guess the ideal is to combine the two, but for Heavens sake, this poor young girl has passed. For those that speak unkindly of her, everyone has the right to choose their path, if people were influenced by her choices then that is their decision. God Bless her and her family, she tried so hard to live, just wish her love.

By Alex Scott (not verified) on 27 Feb 2015 #permalink

-Forgot to specify the main profiteer: GERSONS

Guys can someone please tell me the success rates of beating cancer or any form of cancer without any alternate therapies with only plain and simple use of western medicine such and chemo and radiation and please don't tell me your consider a part of the success rate of beating cancer if you lived longer then five years after doing chemo and radiation is the answer. Where is the proof that it is effective.? please someone respond. Curious to know what people think. Also stop saying that GERSONS profited. I think in my opinion everyone profits except the patient in both Western medicine and alternate medicine.

By Curious Jack (not verified) on 28 Feb 2015 #permalink

A very considerate, timely and humane post, Orac.

Of course the evitable death and the horrid end of life Jess Ainscough subjected herself to are a tragedy; on the other hand she, and her staff, misrepresented her situation and misled people into believing she was doing well because of the Gerson scam and some strict diet, while that clearly wasn't the case. What happened to Jess Ainscough is tragic: her cancer had its natural course, and nothing she did helped her to "heal" or "thrive", unfortunately. She might as well have eaten exclusively junk food for the last seven years and basically nothing would have changed for her terrible cancer, unfortunately.

For the whole 2014 she posted recepies, anecdotes and general comments about how she was thriving, only to admit, around Christmas, that in fact she had had a terrible year and she had been bed-ridden most of the time. Up to the very end her "staff" her FB page was filled up with lies and inaccuracies, that she was thriving and indeed would be back soon with lots of new stuff. All of this is gone now, in the classic cover up that usually follows the tragic demise of the last champion of some dangerous quackery. Sickening.

I am saddened by all the advocates of alternative "therapies" flocking here, insulting people and showing a worrying inability to read, handle facts and to think logically. Calling other people "close minded" while proving themselves to be so completely obtuse and impervious to reality is comical.

It is true that chemotherapy and other actual medical treatments aren't always effective. Medicine openly admits it, and informs patients about this. On the other hand, Gerson and other so called "alternative treatments" are NEVER effective: all the science-minded people on here would be delighted to change their minds if some of the alternative "therapies" worked for cancer, and would welcome such great news. How many of the supportes of alternative "therapies" writing here would be ready to educate themselves, and be persuaded by facts?

Guys can someone please tell me the success rates of beating cancer or any form of cancer without any alternate therapies with only plain and simple use of western medicine such and chemo and radiation and please don't tell me your consider a part of the success rate of beating cancer if you lived longer then five years after doing chemo and radiation is the answer. Where is the proof that it is effective.? please someone respond. Curious to know what people think. Also stop saying that GERSONS profited. I think in my opinion everyone profits except the patient in both Western medicine and alternate medicine..

By Curious Jack (not verified) on 28 Feb 2015 #permalink

As a current cancer patient, I have gone from having very extensive disease to no detectable disease, and relapsed a few times. I also happen to be a medical student, so I am pretty set on sticking to the chemo, surgery and radiation that has allowed me to write this comment today, possibly disease free.
However, I won't deny that the people who push all of this cancer quackery have not left a lurking doubt/fear somewhere in my mind. Going through the worst hell imaginable full time for months at a time is worth it because I have made a good choice to listen to my doctors, and things look good. But those are vulnerable times, and it kind of sucks when people suggest that I'm some sort of sheep for going through chemo, or try to convince me to quit treatment and go see some "special" doctor they know, or suggest hundreds of other things I'm doing wrong, so it's my fault apparently. I understand they think they are helping, but people who push this stuff really throw some unnecessary stuff into the mix. If I hadn't spent so much time studying biology and medicine, I may not have known better and I would probably be dead. It's pretty disrespectful to the people who are trying to fight a real battle.

Guys can someone please tell me the success rates of beating cancer or any form of cancer without any alternate therapies with only plain and simple use of western medicine such and chemo and radiation and please don't tell me your consider a part of the success rate of beating cancer if you lived longer then five years after doing chemo and radiation is the answer. Where is the proof that it is effective.? please someone respond. Curious to know what people think. Also stop saying that GERSONS profited. I think in my opinion everyone profits except the patient in both Western medicine and alternate medicine

By Curious Jack (not verified) on 28 Feb 2015 #permalink

Jess was a beautiful inspirational kind motivating wonderful lady. She will truly be missed. I was so very very sad reading of her passing just now. And I fully understand the path she choose in relation to her health challenges. I would also choose the same. Rest in peace and happiness beautiful lady. Tears are flowing from my eyes.

in my opinion I asked a simple question and my post got removed it was harmless. WT

An article Jess wrote, one of the comment replies she made stood out to me... I can't stop thinking about her and how sad this all is.

http://tinybuddha.com/blog/creating-happiness-from-within-even-when-tim…

Jenny
4 years ago
Kinda funny that you would rather gamble with your life on an unproven new age cancer cure than have your arm amputated. I would advice anyone reading this to listen to the doctors. You were lucky, no offence.
1 Reply

Jessica Jenny
4 years ago
Hi Jenny. Why would I have my arm amputated when the cancer had already spread to my armpit? That doesn't make much sense. Gerson Therapy is not an unproven new age cancer cure. It has been curing cancer since the 1940s - nothing new about that. And no offence, but I wasn't just "lucky". This road has been incredibly tough and I have worked incredibly hard. There are many wonderful doctors out there, but when it comes to cancer they certainly do not have all of the answers.

Robert L Bell:

“choosing natural healing” is a euphemism for “rejecting treatment while engaging in elaborate anxiety reduction rituals.”

Exactly.
In this case, it's a very dangerous euphemism, and telling the truth, breaking the euphemism, is very important.
Chris:

DOES ANYONE ELSE THINK THAT MAKING A BUSINESS OUT OF YOUR OWN CANCER JOURNEY IS A BIT OBSCENE?

I don't judge her for doing that, because turning it into a business seems like a way of reinforcing denial. Becoming a salesperson helps someone to convince themselves. She was in a very difficult position (although I think I'd rather live without an arm and shoulder than not be alive at all).
Rather than judging her for doing it, people outside her anguishing situation need to tell the truth about it.

RIP Jess, you inspired a million and some more. As for the poor soul who wrote this article, I'm sending you all of my love and forgiveness your way. You've obviously had or are having a terrible time in life to write such heartless, low and vindictive words at such a sad time. My heart goes out to Jess's close friends and family. I've never met Jess personally but I know she's had an amazing Impact on my life. Jess thank you for being the beautiful soul you are. Xxxxx

Wow so many people commenting that have no idea what stress does to the body, it makes it acidic, this feeds cancer. I can't wait for your own parents to die so you can start feeling the pain and I hope you have cancer at the time, see how quick chemo's going to last for you than!

@Krissy #318

"Would this post even exist if Jessica opted for surgery and was one of the 28% that died? When is quality of life figured into these statistics?"

FWIW, Conventional Science Based medicine is IMO the one that is concerned with quality of life, not just in the statistics but in the patient's lives.

There are so many projects and so much research into how to do shared decision making in evidence-based practice (and not all doctors are on the front line of this movement, unfortunately), particularly in cancer so you tailor the aggressiveness of the treatments to the patients with the patient's concerns about quality of life and you honor that patients individual choices whether they be to go for less treatment with the knowledge of how that effects the length of life or more aggressive treatment with the knowledge of how that may effect the quality of life.

Does anyone really think 5 coffee enemas a day and being tied to your juicer 24/7 because by the time you finish drinking one juice you must start preparing the next is a high quality life? Is that really what you would chose as a life all things being equal?

No wonder she turned to a internet-based blogging business model to monetize her condition in order to make enough money to afford to survive the one-size-fits-all Gerson lifestyle for years on end.

Where is the informed shared decision making in the alternative world. It is do this protocol which may take everything away from you as you can't run out to the store or go to a play because you have a juice to make or you can't leave the bathroom from the laxatives and the enemas of the so-called detox all while insisting you must be positive about your life of running between the juicer and the bathroom (hey at least you can blog while sitting on the toilet from your 3rd coffee enema of the day) and giving you all the blame when the treatment fails.

I can hear the Gerson people now. What killed her, not the cancer, not the chemo, but that she deviated from the program and dropped from 5 coffee enemas a day to 3. If only she had be disciplined enough to really follow the program she would have lived. And people insist those are the compassionate people, and not the oncologists who adjust the aggressiveness of the treatment plan based on patient's values and preferences and never blames the patient if they are one of the ones the treatment doesn't work for.

Gah!

Holly,

it seems strange to me that this year she started conventional treatments and soon after dies ….

One would assume she changed tack, as it were, due to deteriorating and worsening condition, rather than choosing to change therapies with everything going well and sticking to her new regime despite suddenly deteriorating health.

Jessica's cousin wrote to Orac: " Respect my family and close friends by allowing us to mourn."

How is Orac preventing you from mourning?

http://youtu.be/lq8OIHkBpH8

http://youtu.be/7ae9d6Xd6_0

http://youtu.be/sNoeaSTnDR4

I see a very young, impressionable girl who is desperately trying to find a way, any way, to survive. She also appears to have been groomed as a Gerson spokesperson. A bit of insight to see how it all began and the network of alternative therapy supporters surrounding her. I believe it would have been incredibly difficult for her to stick to conventional medicine.

A very tragic death, a very necessary blog post.

In response to all the people saying 'Jess never claimed Gerson was a cure' - here's one that can't be got at by whoever is cleaning up the records. By-lined Jessica Ainscough, it asserts that Ian Gawler's quackery and Gerson offer a cure. And there are Big Pharma conspiracy theory elements as well.

.http://www.abc.net.au/news/2010-04-07/33482

Lucy at #361. Firstly, you should know that wishing for people to die from cancer makes you a very horrible person.

Secondly, yes there is evidence that the stress hormone adrenaline plays a role in cancer cell development and survival. Do you know that the exact same adrenaline molecules are released into the bloodstream after consuming caffeine? Jess promoted injecting caffeine into the rectum on a daily basis. The methods she promoted are not only completely lacking in evidence, they often don't even make theoretical sense. Before I get attacked; her body, her choice, but it was unethical of her to encourage other people to reject evidence-based medicine and choose ineffective and silly 'therapies' instead.

@Lucy#361 That stuff about acid is nonsense. And I'm sorry to disappoint you, but my parents are already dead - my father at an early age in an accident, my mother from cancer. She didn't have chemo. She had pancreatic cancer (despite a vegetarian diet, lots of exercise and a generally healthy lifestyle.
Mind you, she didn't just reject chemo as pointless, she refrained from wasting a good cup of coffee by shoving it up her arse, too.
And what s spiteful person you seem to be.

I have been following jess since 2010. she is a super star. i expect this type of article whenever someone dies doing it a different way to the allopaths. remember, 130,000 people dies every year from taking drugs as per prescribed in the USA. When one dies of alt therapy, all hell brakes loose. Give a break.

I.m so sad with this news.

Wow so many people commenting that have no idea what stress does to the body, it makes it acidic, this feeds cancer. I can’t wait for your own parents to die so you can start feeling the pain and I hope you have cancer at the time, see how quick chemo’s going to last for you than!

Maybe, Lucy, you should turn off the computer and make some relaxation exercises to get that unhealthy vitriol out of your system. I'm told it's not good for you.

Thanks for your response Laura.

I guess you could say that it was making the best of a difficult situation and trying to turn it into something positive - I get that and in some ways that was admirable. She was obviously a bit of a go getter.

But, there is something a little off about profiting out of your sickness - it is distasteful, especially when you are not being totally truthful by ommission or otherwise. I won't go as far as to say that she was a liar because that would be a little harsh, but I do think that she was quite loose with the truth as many marketing types are. They are selective about what messages they convey.

I think that the bit I particularly find off putting is that the image she (and others like her) projected is onesided, for example, she said that she was thriving with cancer - was she serious? Well obviously that was bullshit, which we found out in her last post in which she finally revealed her true condition - we only got a little bit of honesty in her last post in December! Why was it in her last post in which we got some honesty?

The reality is that cancer is a terrible disease, and that story also needed to be told. It is a shame that she didn't tell this story as well, because it might have been an opportunity to demonstrate how to live successfully, even with the monkey on your back. That is the true art of surviving with these kinds of conditions.

Promoting the idea that your are thriving, when it is not true, and profiting from it is the bit I find off about all of this. In summary, don't think we got to see the real Jess Ainscough or her real journey at all, just a carefully crafted facsimile.

From her book, Make Peace with your Plate, "Six years on, following a complete change in lifestyle, diet and mindset, she is cancer-free and thriving."

Let's be clear, Jess made a media/marketing career by becoming a lifestyle guru and telling everybody she "healed" or "cured" her cancer "naturally" when that clearly wasn't the case. I feel so bad for her, and the vulnerable people who blindly followed her rather than listening to their doctor.

Curious Jack #351 passim
Here are rates for childhood leukaemias, with explanations. It's impossible to give a figure for cancer per se, but you said just one would do.
With acute leukemias, children who are free of disease after 5 years are very likely to have been cured, as it very rare for these cancers to return after such a period of time.

Current 5-year survival rates are based on children first diagnosed and treated more than 5 years ago. Improvements in treatment since then may mean an even better outlook for children treated today.

The 5-year survival rate for children with ALL has greatly increased over time and is now more than 85% overall.

The 5-year survival rate for children with AML has also increased over time, and is now in the range of 60% to 70%. However, survival rates can vary depending on the subtype of AML. For instance, most studies suggest that the cure rate for acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL), a subtype of AML, is now higher than 80%.

"She refrained from wasting a good cup of coffee by shoving it up her arse"

LOL. I am a horrible enough person to admit to thinking the same thoughts about the coffee - what a waste.

You said " Fear the truth maybe? Jess may have lived a short life, but one that has impacted thousands and many for the better rather than shortening the lives of hundreds of patients by fueling their bodies with an endless amount of poisons. "
She actually has made it worst, a lot of people won't seek help or adequate treatment that might in fact save their lives by a big margin compared to the bollocks Jess used to do. She did no good to people, one thing is choosing for one self, another is promoting such ideas. Clearly didn't save her mother neither saved her. But many more people have been saved by chemo and it's effectiveness it has been shown in studies, real scientific studies. It does not always work because it depends in a lot of things (among those how long the cancer has been). You can't really talk about "poisons" unless you hold a degree in chemistry and biophysics and understand how those things work. Google PhD is of no worth.

She clearly states that she was in the midst of making 'final plans.' Sounds like murder/suicide to me. As does the entire bullshit pseudoiscience that she was surrounded by. Perverts do tend to gather around to rally sick people towards the grave today, as I found it out in Canada when I became ill several years ago- alternative healing therapies are available, and some are awesome- but rejecting all official medical advice is not what we should encourage people with cancer to do. I agree that she was likely surrounded by quacks, including perverts and criminals that encouraged her to end her life too soon. Very sad. She surely tried to help others as much as she possibly could.

By Leanne Flynn (not verified) on 28 Feb 2015 #permalink

Very rare tumour indeed. Most sarcomas are relatively chemo resistant but perhaps she could've benefited from a hypo fractionated radiation therapy regimen following tumour debulking.
Not that I think she would ever opt for radiotherapy. She probably would've thought she'd be glowing in the dark like so many do.
Very sad indeed!

By Sneha cloake (not verified) on 28 Feb 2015 #permalink

Hundreds of years ago natural therapies DID work.

And your evidence for this is?

(Hint: Life expectancy at birth was 40 or lower from the Paleolithic straight through to the 17th century.)

It is by our own human activity that we create cancers and diseases that cannot always be cured by natural therapies. That is not natures fault. It is ours.

I find it distressing that so many people apparently think of misfortune as the result of personal fault on the part of the sufferer.

Guys can someone please tell me the success rates of beating cancer or any form of cancer without any alternate therapies with only plain and simple use of western medicine such and chemo and radiation and please don’t tell me your consider a part of the success rate of beating cancer if you lived longer then five years after doing chemo and radiation is the answer.

I'm not sure how you define "success rate" if it's not "remaining alive." Is it just five-year survival rates that you don't find persuasive?

Let me know. In the meantime, does this help?

Long-term survival rates for many types of cancer have substantially improved in past decades because of advances in early detection and treatment.

...

Estimates of 5-year, 10-year, 15-year, and 20-year relative survival rates for all types of cancer were 63%, 57%, 53%, and 51%, respectively, by period analysis. These estimates were 1%, 7%, 11%, and 11% higher, respectively, than corresponding estimates by cohort-based survival analysis. By period analysis, 20-year relative survival rates were close to 90% for thyroid and testis cancer, exceeded 80% for melanomas and prostate cancer, were about 80% for endometrial cancer, and almost 70% for bladder cancer and Hodgkin's disease. A 20-year relative survival rate of 65% was estimated for breast cancer, of 60% for cervical cancer, and of about 50% for colorectal, ovarian, and renal cancer.

(From here:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12387961)

<blockquote. Where is the proof that it is effective.? please someone respond.

For the last several decades, mortality rates for cancer have been declining. And survival rates have been increasing.

How do you account for that?

Curious to know what people think. Also stop saying that GERSONS profited. I think in my opinion everyone profits except the patient in both Western medicine and alternate medicine

On the subject of quackery. I'm led to believe that Mark Twain memorably said, "It is easier to fool people than it is to convince them that they have been fooled."

I am a firm supporter of a natural diet as to an aid to strenghten any sort of treament. Although I use convencional treatments in detriment of natural healing methods I think that the problem is that these alternative methods are not tested. Tradicional medicin supports its treatments on the knowledge it has gathered over the years and in some areas it is very successful in trating and healing its patients but what if some more natural approaches were considered and tested in individuals that are willing to be treated like this? Experiment. Choose a therapy, adapt it, record your findings and study the outcome. This is the only way we can say that alternative medicin does not work. If we study it and use statistics to compare the results with the ones from tradicional therapies. Through experimentation we may find alternative, better therapies.

By Vanessa L Hall… (not verified) on 28 Feb 2015 #permalink

This is a seemingly well-meaning post, but given that you don't know her actual cause of death, it's staggeringly hypocritical. That hypocrisy makes the whole article seem very shallow. Collect the facts first, postulate second.

Poor little warrior. I don't mean to be condescending in saying that; I'm old enough to be her mother, and I just think it's so sad that someone so young and vulnerable was somehow left to make such an appallingly bad decision on her own behalf.

Just suppose I had been her mother; I would have done my level best to encourage her to make the difficult decision to amputate as quickly as possible. No doubt I would also have encouraged her to improve her diet, cutting out nutrient-poor sugars and starches and booze while increasing nutrient dense plant foods; but only as an adjunct to SBM.

I would have talked to her about Bethany Hamilton; remember her? The young teenager who lost an arm in a shark attack over a decade ago. She almost died from blood loss as she was rushed to hospital, but SBM pulled her through, and her own will did the rest. She went on to return to surfing, and even with just one arm went on to WIN a number of surfing competitions. Photos of her wedding show a radiantly happy bride, seemingly oblivious to her disability. Her first child is due in June this year. She's a motivational speaker, and an amazingly inspirational young woman.

I just wish I could go back in time to put it to Jess that by making the harder, more courageous choice, she would have been maximising her chances of survival, and in doing so could have been a wonderful story of survival and an amazing inspiration to countless cancer patients worldwide.

So sad that that never happened; that it's all over for someone so young, with so much to give.

@Vanessa
" NCCAM’s yearly budget remains in the range of $121 million a year, for well over $1 billion spent since its inception as the Office of Alternative Medicine in 1993. Its yearly budget contains enough money to fund around 75 to 100 new five year R01 grants, give or take."

http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/the-national-center-for-complementa…

Sure, it is a lot less than spent on biologically plausible treatments but it isn't that no research has ever been done.

@Vanessa L Hallberg Borges - I agree with you that we can only determine that a particular treatment works by experimentation and statistical analysis. In particular, it is important to ensure that the data collection and analysis is not "rigged" either deliberately (cherry picking the data, picking patients not representative of the target population) or inadvertently (confirmation bias) provide an invalid result.

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

Am I the only one noticing a pattern in the language of the hit-and-run woo-droppers? They all use the same adjectives and the same stock phrases, and all of them tell us "not to judge"... then judge US.

But this isn't a cult, no sir.

By Chan Kobun, th… (not verified) on 28 Feb 2015 #permalink

How is a coffee enema deemed to be 'natural therapy'?

By sceptic83 (not verified) on 28 Feb 2015 #permalink

An analogy:

A man in your village says he's selling rocks that keep tigers away.
People buy them and none of them are eaten by a tiger.
One day, a tiger wanders in, eats the rock-selling man, and leaves.
Would you eulogize him as a perfect person despite the obvious failure of his product?
Would you say it was too soon to judge his business? Would you call someone who said that maybe his rocks don't work a terrible person?
Would you keep the rocks you bought?
Would you still try to convince people that they work?

This ends the analogy.

By Chan Kobun, th… (not verified) on 28 Feb 2015 #permalink

#4, #5

When someone is engaging in a self destructive behaviour and is leading other towards it, real compassion does not mean blithering along the lines of
"oh, you're so brave shooting up that heroin despite reactionary society's disaproval".

Real compassion means halting their self-destruction and preventing them from destroying others, using what influence one has available.
Family members may have means such as conservatorship, locked rehab etc. Strangers of course have next to none, beyond shouting from a hilltop at some distance.

In this case, the blog author has one tool, writing in a blog. The quack saleswoman (who was also a customer) was unlikely to heed the author's warnings, but other, innocent people seduced by the highly sophisticated BS industry just might.

The author, if anything, is being too mild. While it's a shame the young lady died an uncomfortable and early death, she was working to take others with her. The former is error, the latter is crime.

By Spectator (not verified) on 28 Feb 2015 #permalink

it seems strange to me that this year she started conventional treatments and soon after dies ….

Death is the usual outcome of untreated terminal disease.

That's a terrible thing, and painful to contemplate. But there's no way to pretend that it isn't true that doesn't create an unsustainable and potentially dangerous level of stress. So there you have it.

@ Spectator, I fully agree.

If someone wants to commit suicide, because, (s)he thinks it's the best solution for his / her problems, we try to prevent it. If a suicide attempt fails, we try to lead this person to a better way to treat his / her problems. If the suicide attempt works, we might mourn this person, but most won't say (s)he did the right thing and we are defenitly not going to make an example out of this person, by saying people should do the same. If this person would blog about her / his attempts to commit suicide, stating that other people who feel depressed, or lost in this world, should do the same, we would condemn this.

To me, this is just another case of evolution weeding out the herd. Survival of the fittest and elimination of the weak, inferior and genetically compromised gene pool. #1- She had cancer. Not her fault, but clearly inferior genetics as her mother also had and died of it. #2- She used her brain (as it was) to decide coffee up her ass was a way to beat cancer instead of scientifically proven methods that at least had a chance. I've had people I know and love die of cancer and other survive it. But to see someone die who has refused medically sound treatment? Sorry not a lot of sympathy for the stupid choices you make that cost you your life. Especially when it may cause someone else to make the same stupid choices. But in the end, it IS a choice. So you made yours. Why on earth would you think I'm not entitled to say what I choose about it? You want to make stupid decisions (your right to do so),I might have something to say about it (my right to do so)! The only exemption are children who stupid ignorant parents deny them care because some stupid ass told them god would take care of it, or coffee up the ass. Yeah, both make as much sense for a cancer treatment plan, and both work as well! The survival rate? 0%

@JP #286: treppanning has been used since the Stone Age. It was used to exorcise demons (probably seizures or mental illness) and treat headaches. There are modern people who use it for the same thing. Very scary stuff, since there is no evidence at all that it works.

@Kelly #304: yes, Marinol is still around. Even though it is Schedule III, it is hard to get physicians to prescribe it unless you have HIV or cancer. It is used to enhance appetite in AIDS patients, and treat refractory nausea in chemotherapy patients. It's also useful in some kinds of pain (my sister takes it for fibromyalgia when she had a particularly bad flare up and it works well for her--but she can only take it at night due to the drowsiness).

@Nicole #305: Brandon Bays claims to have cured a tumor by "accessing cell memories." Definately woo. However, we don't know that she actually had cancer, and not a cyst or benign mass. She's another self help huckster. Given that her "tumor" was way back in 1992, and her book not published until 1999. If she's convincing people to forgo medical treatment in favor of woo, she's on the same moral level as Jessie Ainscough. Maybe worse, since I question whether she actually had cancer (highly unlikely given the time lapse).

@Yvette #313: your friend probably wasn't going around making six figures off of convincing cancer patients to abandon SBM in favor of woo.

@cheb #316: Everyone makes decisions on treatment based on their own goals and values. It's hard to assign value judgements to those decisions as we do not have to live with the consequences.

A few years ago my mother (69 at the time) asked me about getting a colonoscopy. Her doctor had been on her for years to get one, but she always refused. There is no history of cancer in our family and she always ate a quality diet, so her risks were low. She had zero GI issues. I asked her, "If they find cancer are you going to do the surgery or chemotherapy?" She emphatically said, "No! I will let nature take its course, and go be with your father." So I told her, "then don't get the colonoscopy." Her values were, why go through an invasive procedure with risks if she wasn't even going to get treatment if they found something. So I respected that.

I had a colonoscopy last year, my first routine one. If they had found something, I would have sought treatment: SBM treatment. But then again, I'm 49, in otherwise good health, with lots of living yet to do. So my values are different.

@Krissy #318: You're another person confusing why some here are critical of Jessie . . . deliberately I think, because comparing her to people to seek SBM and have died because it was not successful seems to somehow validate that the woo isn't so bad. Well it is bad, and it's killing people. No one has ever survived cancer using Gerson therapy, organic diets, or meditation.

The issue is not that Jessie refused surgery or chose a woo based therapy for herself. It's that she advocated woo therapy to other cancer patients in exchange for a six figure salary. She went from cancer patient to woo victim to woo victimizer. And that's why she is rightly being criticized.

@#325 who didn't even leave a name: I can see why you didn't identify yourself. Quack does not mean competition. It comes from the Dutch word kwakzalver, which means hawker of salves. Quack cures never worked. People used them because there was little other alternative, but they did not work. That's why disease was so feared in days gone by.

I'm very sorry this young woman has died, and my sympathy goes out to her family and friends; however, I'm relieved she's now silent.

If her advocacy caused people to forego medicine for quackery, then it certainly resulted in deaths that might otherwise have been avoided. If her death shines a spotlight on the dangerous lunacy that's Gerson Therapy, then lives could be saved.

To be fair, maybe her methods were not very good, but she lived the life of her choice and that she beleived in, which is more than most people do. To me life is not about the amount of days we live but that we can live happily and as we choose. Not like vegetables in a bed, which a lof of cancer patients do, or with their head in buckets puking.

So, she's only just passed away and this person has posted this article. And it seems pretty harsh.

Tough. Good. I'm glad he posted it.

My sister died ten years ago from liver cancer. She was a teenager. She didn't have chemo or any of the conventional treatments - opting instead for something experimental. Her reasons were very personal. Two years later she was gone, after an awful battle that, I think, was as bad as chemo likely would have been. I don't resent her choice but I always found it very sad. I find this woman's death very sad too, and also her decision not to take the treatment that provided the best chance of survival. That was also her choice, but in matters of life or death where her choice might influence others' management of their own health, I don't think it's wrong to speak about it in this way.

It was hard to read this article,but I'm glad you wrote it. You were right to do so.

One thing I find most objectionable about the family's presentation of her death - and her mother's before her: In both cases they insist she died peacefully. I doubt that. I have seen the ravages of untreated cancer, in person, and I have seen death in persons who are not given adequate pain relief. It is not a pretty sight. This is a person who told us in December that she had been bleeding from the armpit for 10 months and had spent the better part of the past year in bed. If she was not in pain in her final hours, I'll eat my hat.

When her mother died Jess insisted that her mother had refused pain relief, or not needed pain relief. Now her family is saying (or at least implying) the same about her. I would wager a guess that her mother died a gruesome death, but without complaining, and Jess, traumatized from watching that, felt she was obliged to do the same. I feel very sorry for her family, if they had to watch her like that.

This just adds insult to injury, in my view. I guess it feeds into some sort of myth they are taking comfort in, that maybe spiritually it was just her time to go, or her destiny, and that if you accept it you will not suffer? To cry for pain relief would somehow negate all that had gone before? I don't know, I can't understand it, and I don't necessarily believe that she requested or was given no form of pain relief.

A few weeks ago I wrote on her blog - in the comment section of her last post, which has now been taken down - that I hoped she would avail herself of actual medical pain relief when or if it was needed. Green smoothies will not relieve the pain of end-stage cancer. I said that being in pain is not a sign of weakness and it is not your fault, any more than cancer is your fault. This is not happening because you were not "positive" enough, or "didn't listen to your body" or didn't have enough "self-love." I hope she read that, and considered it.

But even more, I wish that the family could grasp that by insisting on the mythological picture of a "peaceful" death from cancer - or announcing preposterously that she "thrived" on cancer - they are doing no favors at all to other patients who may be facing the gruesomeness of end-stage cancer. Some think they will manage without pain relief, and the death throes can come as a horrifying shock if your course had not been terribly painful thus far, or if, as is sometimes the case, the final days are seemingly upon you quite suddenly. Some people "die peacefully" from cancer, propped up on fluffy pillows smiling and reassuring their loved ones that they see a white light and are ready to go, but many others go horribly. Witnessing this often is a cause of PTSD in survivors.

Ladies, stress does NOT cause cancer. It's another bats-nutz crazy theory. My dad and aunt died of cancer and I did not meekly follow them into the grave because the stress brought on by dealing with THEIR cancer. Neither did any one else in the circle of family or friends.

I really wonder if some of these posters stress the "stress" because it gives them an excuse to float along in their airy-fairy head space and never examine anything critically because it would give them "stress".

Another point - Jess stated that she was making 6 figures a year with her Wellness Warrior business - therefore she was leading a minimum of 60 people a year at $1,500 a shot from proven treatments for cancer into a useless diet. Even if 1/2 or 2/3's of them followed the regime for health reasons, she was luring 20 people a year away from being scientifically treated and possibly cured.

The world is full of people in their 80's and 90's that have got their on diets that you would recoil at.

By Jane Ostentatious (not verified) on 28 Feb 2015 #permalink

God Bless Jess Ainscough, she is an inspiration to many and still, while looking at her trajectory, I rather had taken the same path that she did. I would rather thrive for 8 years that live chopped, radiated, drugged for many more years.

"Also stop saying that GERSONS profited. I think in my opinion everyone profits except the patient in both Western medicine and alternate medicine"

The clinics licensed by the Gerson Institute (i.e. in Tijuana and Hungary) charge up to $11,000 for the recommended minimum two-week clinic stay, according to the American Cancer Society. That does not include the cost of housing the patient and "companion" that patients are supposed to have for that period of time. Extra charges include the thousands of dollars in start-up costs for home care (equipment, supplies, supplements etc.) for a regimen that goes on for years, or however long the patient survives. Regardless of how much of that is "profit" for the clinics/institute, it's a heavy price to pay for quackery (not including the ultimate price of one's life).

I am surprised by all of the alt med supporters who immediately swooped in here to berate Orac in vitriolic fashion. Shouldn't they have waited a decent length of time? It might have afforded them valuable perspective.

By Dangerous Bacon (not verified) on 28 Feb 2015 #permalink

Julia - wow, pretty harsh?

Doesn't make a lot of logical sense, either. If you're all happy with "weeding out the herd," i.e., you think that the deaths of people with "inferior genetics" are basically a good thing, presumably because they then cannot reproduce, then it seems to me you'd also logically have to be in favor of anyone who gets cancer not getting treatment at all, so that they don't breed. You'd logically be especially happy when young people die of cancer, as older people who die of cancer have often already reproduced.

I think Jess Ainscough did a reprehensible thing, ultimately, by pushing quack remedies long after she had solid evidence that they did not work. She was obviously in denial, but that does not absolve her of responsibility for continuing to hawk products that probably hastened other people's deaths. But even I would not go so far as to be happy she is removed from the gene pool. That is simply malicious.

She did in fact admit it was fungating: " I do have a big fungating tumour mass"

And yes, say it today. Say it tomorrow. Say it every time someone claims you're not open-minded enough to let someone kill herself because she sees a false light at the end of a blind tunnel.

And damn everyone to hell who encouraged her to ignore medical science to line their pockets.

heartbreaking for Jess's remaining family and partner much love and sympathies in their time of grief.

ORAC thank you for stimulating real debate and access to much needed information - the huge response here only shows that people want to and definitely need to discuss these issues openly and with both medical and alternative moderators it's a healthy debate and also a way for the public to grieve the loss of a young life who became known in ways to them.

ROSE - Australia - thank you for your wonderful open hearted post on your experience with Jess and your courageous journey to kick it for your children with all you and the world has to fight.

“choosing natural healing” is a euphemism for “rejecting treatment while engaging in elaborate anxiety reduction rituals.”

By Deborah - Australia (not verified) on 28 Feb 2015 #permalink

The reason that YOUR doctors can spend hours documenting everything and continuing to try to discover 'better' ways of using the barbaric treatments of Cut/Burn and Poison is because you've continued to convince the public that they NEED to raise more funds for Western Medicine and the 'elusive cure'.

Wonder what would happen if the funding you get from the innocent people who are convinced that 'yours' is the ONLY way, were instead to be donated to alternative medicine and that your 'extra' funding was cut off during that period of time. Imagine what strides we might make with all of that money (or not, but how do you KNOW)? Give us 5 years. Send all the cancer dollars raised to all qualified Naturopathic doctors and clinics, and see what kind of results THEY can come up with, with that money. THEN and only THEN, would you be able to even THINK of comparing stats.

All I've seen western medicine do is attempt to figure out 'better' methods of using the same attack - that clearly continue to kill people even before their cancer might have done. Wouldn't you think IT'S SOMEONE ELSE'S TURN to have a kick at the can? If that were to happen and it was the miserable failure you've already determined it would be - then and only then - would I consider listening to your 'I told you so's' ...

@DW

If she was not in pain in her final hours, I’ll eat my hat.

I hope you have an edible hat, because "dying peacefully" might have meant she took an overdose of morphine that was prescribed for pain, or something like that.

Cressida - trying searching:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed
and skim ALL the papers - not just the ones that confirm your whackadoodle prejudices. There have been lots of studies that indicate that vegetarian diets result in no or very slight increases in life expectancy. Life is not that simple - there are no simple answers.

Research funds have been wasted in exploring some of these theories. Other theories have not been explored because these theories utterly defy what is known about how the human body functions on a biological or molecular level - like eating clay or administering coffee enemas.

Cressida - why don't you and these "naturopathic" clinics raise the money to conduct these studies? These clinics and doctors have no intention of coughing up a penny out of their pockets for a rigourous study. And you have the nerve to accuse scientific medicine of being all about money!

By Jane Ostentatious (not verified) on 28 Feb 2015 #permalink

"To be fair, maybe her methods were not very good, but she lived the life of her choice and that she beleived in, which is more than most people do. To me life is not about the amount of days we live but that we can live happily and as we choose. Not like vegetables in a bed, which a lof of cancer patients do, or with their head in buckets puking."

I don't think you can decide that if you do alternative medicine it is only because you live from choice and if you follow a doctor's advice you are some kind of mindless automaton.

There are people on both sides that mindlessly follow whatever they are told and people on both sides who are living the life the choose. It really isn't true that only one side honors patient autonomy and encourages free will and choosing one's treatment options.

From what I understand it cancer really doesn't care if you live an organic life or a chemotherapy filled one. The end game is painful and symptom-filled either way. Cancer by itself causes plenty of symptoms before the end even if you refuse all treatments of any kind.

Give us 5 years. Send all the cancer dollars raised to all qualified Naturopathic doctors and clinics, and see what kind of results THEY can come up with, with that money. THEN and only THEN, would you be able to even THINK of comparing stats.

Please check KayMarie's comment #384. So far, the results of this research are essentially zip.

Anyway, what's to stop you guys from a public fund raising drive for such research? There's enough of you guys visiting here. Surely if each of you contributed a few hundred dollars, you could put together the study of your dreams. Come on, you can do it!

@Maki

You're welcome to settle for 8 years without being, "chopped, radiated, drugged for many more years" That's your prerogative.

Personally, I plan to wring out every single last drop of life I can, with whatever evidence based treatment available.

The difference is, convincing other people to eschew treatment that actually DOES work for some quack therapy that DOESN'T - that's wrong.

"Natural diet" seems to mean "whatever foods I approve of." Rarely is what the Inuit were eating 500 years ago called a "natural" diet, but killing and eating a seal seems more natural than taking a bunch of modified vegetables and processing them in an electrical device. Yes, modified: the carrots, cucumbers, radishes and so on of your farmer's market or seed catalog have been altered by millennia of artificial selection, whether or not they are raised in a way that the state of California will label "organic."

I happily eat cucumber salad and roasted carrots, but that's because I like them, not because they seem more "natural" than rye bread and butter, salmon, or chicken.

Orac,

Your article makes me very sad. I took an epithelioid sarcoma out of the hypothenar area of an 11-year-old girl. Shortly thereafter, my own illness ended my career and I have not been able to follow her. I hope she has not fallen into any of these traps and that she and her family are making good decisions. I also hope my surgery was extensive enough and she does not lose her hand.

I used to be much more tolerant of "alternative medicine." However, after watching people go through it (ineffectively) and hearing all the anti-medicine rhetoric of these, rightfully-termed, QUACKS, I am realizing that the false hope and placebos they provide are very harmful. I hope the right people listen to your wisdom.

To the many people who have posted here claiming that altmed is effective against cancer, I suggest you read retired doctor Peter Moran's pages on the subject. He takes an open-minded look at the evidence provided by a number of different alternative health clinics that treat cancer, including the Gerson Clinic, and assesses it very fairly. Even using their own figures it is clear that these clinics have very poor results, certainly no better than conventional treatment, though the large numbers of patients lost to follow-up make it difficult to be accurate. The likelihood is that most of those patients have died, making the figures even worse.

The claim that alternative treatments are superior to conventional medicine is a flat lie. You will find people claiming that Big Pharma is covering up the truth, and that altmed practitioners don't have the money to perform clinical trials to prove their treatments, but this isn't true either. Even a well-documented case study series showing that patients on their treatment did significantly better than expected would be enough to get the interest of OCCAM, which spends $127.7 million every year researching alternative cancer treatments. If you have evidence of this sort, I suggest you contact OCCAM and present it to them. If someone tells you that they have a successful cancer treatment, I suggest you ask them and yourself why they haven't collected this sort of evidence and presented it to OCCAM. Is collecting good evidence of a cancer diagnosis, of the treatment given and of results after treatment really so difficult for them?

The truth is that most alternative treatments have been tested in clinical trials of one sort or another, and they simply don't work. If you or a loved one have cancer and anyone tells you they can cure it with an alternative treatment I suggest you move swiftly in the opposite direction.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 28 Feb 2015 #permalink

'Anyway, what’s to stop you guys from a public fund raising drive for such research? There’s enough of you guys visiting here. Surely if each of you contributed a few hundred dollars, you could put together the study of your dreams. Come on, you can do it!'

That's a JOKE Bruce - compared to the amount of money the Cancer INDUSTRY is raking in. Even the stats from post #384 is a ridiculously small amount, by comparison.

And what's to stop us? The fact that MOST PEOPLE don't even know there IS an alternative, because Big Pharma ads take over the show. Give US money to run ads like that Put alternative 'oncologists' in hospitals to give people options OR to allow people to even know that there ARE other options. Give the people more opportunities to make those 'BAD CHOICES' - while you keep raking in the loot to work on procedures that clearly need a LOT more work.

As long as BP keeps advertising and spending trillions of dollars to keep people believing that allopathic doctors have their best interests at heart, most people will never know that there just could be another way ...

Ladies, stress does NOT cause cancer. It’s another bats-nutz crazy theory. My dad and aunt died of cancer and I did not meekly follow them into the grave because the stress brought on by dealing with THEIR cancer. Neither did any one else in the circle of family or friends.

Correct, nor does acid cause cancer.

I've a story to tell, of my sister, her cancer, stress and acid.

My sister, as a young woman, about 18years ago, came down with another rare soft tissue cancer, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synovial_sarcoma .

Sure, she had some stress in her life, and ate meat (and plenty of it). She was raising two kids, keeping house, going to school, all the things that go with living.

She was told that the best chance for a cure was surgery. The tumor was in her foot, so to make sure they had clear margins, it was necessary to take her leg. Like Jess, she had a choice, go with the best advice of medical professionals, or not. She wanted to see her kids grow up, so she chose the option with the best chance to save her life.

Returning to her previous activities, while learning to function with one leg, can reasonably be called 'stressful'. Just trying to raise the kids with one leg would have been stress enough for anybody. She also didn't change her diet. But the cancer didn't come back.

Back in 2011, we lost both mom and dad, within about 9 weeks of each other. Still no cancer. The reason is simple. Amputating her leg removed every last cancer cell from the rest of her body. Our host has made the point in the past that when it comes to treating cancer, you need to completely wipe it out, every cell, or it will come back. Cut it, burn it, or poison it (as the alties like to say), but make sure you kill all of it.

While dad died of lung cancer (not unexpected, he was a smoker for over 50 years), mom died of COPD. She had gone into the hospital (again) with breathing problems, and the next day, we had a call that overnight her 'blood acidity levels were incompatible with life'. Mom had directed that she was not to be placed on respirator, and they were asking permission to use other mechanical devices (some sort of mask thing) to try to get her airways open. It didn't work. My sister was with her at the end, plenty of stress, still no cancer after almost 4 years. But that's not the point of his part of the story.

The point is that if your body is too acid, you die. Not of cancer, not in months or years, but in hours or days. One of the regulars here, I believe it was Krebiozen, posted a simple, yet very detailed comment on the whys and hows of the relationship between breathing and blood acidity . I wish I had marked it for reference, so I could point every idiot who comes here spouting the idea that 'acidity causes cancer' to the post.

And, because everyone else is talking about it, I don't believe our host was in any way out of line with his blog post. Sure, Jess had the right to choose to try to cure herself with juice and coffee, but she did try to tell others to do the same, and she lied about how well it (didn't) work for her. As our host noted -

Unfortunately, she also promoted that same quackery, which made them complicit as well.

and that's why her whole story needs to be told.

@Orac
I re-read this blog post. I thought it unobjectionable - appropriate right after her death - up until the end, when you started to blame her.
You said she had "noblest of motivations in the beginning". But I don't see any reason to think her motivations stopped being noble.
People do a lot of harm while they're trying to do good.
She was deceptive, but people who are deceiving themselves tend to deceive other people, without realizing they're doing harm by it.
Awhile ago, I got curious about what goes on when Christian faith healers do fake faith healings. Jim Jones (of Jonestown) and his followers did fake healings sometimes. I wondered - how did something so obviously crooked as a fake faith healing fit with their very idealistic religion?
The answer, at least in Jim Jones' cult, was that they rationalized the fake healings. They believed Jim Jones had done real miraculous healings and really had psychic powers, so it was OK to amplify the effect with fake healings.
Jim Jones' cult did a lot of good things in their community. His cult was honored by people not in the cult, for the social good it did. Since they were helping people, cult members thought fake healings justified to promote such a good cause.
It's an "end justifies the means" rationalization, and Jess Ainscough was probably doing something similar.
Acknowledging to herself that the Gerson method hadn't worked, that she'd thrown away her best chance when she decided not to get her arm amputated, that she'd spent the last years of her life encouraging other people to try a method for cancer that didn't actually work, that she'd made her living as a quack really - would have been too horrible to realize.
So all we can do from the outside is to tell the truth about it; giving her credit for good intentions, but also pointing out that she did a lot of harm while trying to do good.

I felt the article was written sympathetically and respectfully, unfortunate that people feel the need to behave like the X-Factor audience and boo at any comment from the judges that isn't positive. Only negative I'd offer is repetition of the words quackery and quacks. We keep each other alive through remembering, and so this person is as real and alive for me today as they were when alive. Just because the discussion reflects on a negative aspect of part of someone's life, doesn't lessen that. It's unlikely, but I'd take that over silently fading.

I'm a sceptic, but would I choose a forequarter amputation or similar? Really don't know, like to think I'm pragmatic and view the body as a machine carrying our brain around for new experiences, but would I just say no. With years of potentially reasonable health vs. tomorrow being disabled and still the possibility of recurrence, tough.

By Michael Ludgate (not verified) on 28 Feb 2015 #permalink

How come nobody ever lists all the people who died because they used Gerson stupidity ? Where did all you people's brains go ? Are you unable to think critically ? There is no, none nada zilch, bupkis in the way of credible evidence that pumping coffee up your bum and swallowing a gallon of pureed lawn clippings a day will cure anything. Come on, think! what mechanism of operation is a coffee enema using to have theraputic effect ? What's drinking all that juice doing for you that drinking a placebo wouldn't do?
Next point: Do any of you have even the slightest idea what it feels like to have to live through a double-shot enema? Let alone doing as many as 5 a day ? gah. I'd rather have chemo. At least chemo has a shot at working, and evidence to back that assertion up.
Finally: If Joe (some completely imaginary person) is standing at the edge of a cliff, and saying he's just going to step forward and see what's below, is he having a good idea ? even if the view's pleasant ? If he then enticed people to join him on the edge of the cliff and said "okay, on count of three, we all step forward!" are you going to applaud him and say "ah, that Joe, what a brave lad, going his own way!" ?

You suck. You know how many people died of cancer, although they had been treated with chemical therapies such as chemo? You are just scared an needed this girl as evidence. Let her rest in peace.

Couldn't get through all the posts but...my sister-in-law did the Gerson protocol for pancreatic cancer aggressive stage 4 and the 'juicing' and all that. No gemzitabine, nothing to slow it down. The results were predictable. Her husband was/is in sales in the neutraceuticals business. He believed. In the end, he said "Don't blame me". To hold out hope with coffee and vitamins? Through contacts, I was offered access for her to any study she wished to try. I blame all those who think woo will work with insensitivity to reality. RIP

By BobFromLI (not verified) on 28 Feb 2015 #permalink

Cressida:

The fact that MOST PEOPLE don’t even know there IS an alternative,

No one knows about alt-med? Let me pause for a belly laugh.

I'm not asking for thousands of studies, which is where the cancer research money you want to get your paws on goes. I just want to see one good study that shows that naturopathic methods have any positive effect on cancer survival. That's all.
If you came across with that, the money would pour in. Hell, why not try the Randi challenge? That would finance an awesome study.

A while back, there was an alternative movement that denied the reality of hiv/ aids; although it progressed through many permutations and was comprised of differing factions internationally, it did, nevertheless, hold sway in all its variable forms amongst many alternative medicine believers and even affected governmental policies concerning the illness: most tragically, in South Africa where it led to the needless deaths of thousands of people.

Nicoli Nattrass ( 2012) described some important components of this movement which may help explain its persistence :
- "hero scientists" who make pseudoscience sound more legitimate
- "cultro-preneurs" i.e. who profit by providing alternative cures ( supplements, chiefly) and who spread misinformation through their books, lectures and films
- "living icons" who *appear* to be living well without resorting to conventional treatment** .for a while,until they die
- "praise singers" such as sympathetic journalists and film makers who receive wider press

OBVIOUSLY the fact that many of their 'thriving' icons died may have contributed to the recent decline in news about this pseudo-scientific community. I hear very little about them-except for a straggly bunch of facebook entries, quasi-legal advocates and the occasionally hour-long rant by cultro-preneurial woo-meisters, intent upon selling a book, film or supplement.

Jess' death may spell the beginning end for generally un-critical publicity for cures such as Gerson's- we can only hope so.

** the fact that there were no effective treatments in the early days of the epidemic may have lent heft to the movement

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 28 Feb 2015 #permalink

That should be- OCCASIONAL and
beginning OF THE end

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 28 Feb 2015 #permalink

Wow. It's interesting to see such a large gathering of her followers -- and to see that they're sociopaths, every one of them. I used to tell myself that most alt-peddlers probably mean no harm. This thread has changed my opinion.

Please, people, if you have a relative who falls for this stuff, take notes and sue the quacks, and their promoters. Enough is enough.

By Yodel lady (not verified) on 28 Feb 2015 #permalink

Lucy @361
"I can’t wait for your own parents to die so you can start feeling the pain and I hope you have cancer at the time, see how quick chemo’s going to last for you than!"

Wow. Just wow. I've been avoiding replying to Warrior's since I've yet to see one respond. I'm pretty sure 99% of them are drive-by commenters. But this one is the most terrible thing I've heard anyone say in quite some time. Go ahead and call orac names or whatever if you disagree with him but never wish death on someone. And not just orac, but his patients; people who are completely unrelated except having chosen someone you dislike as their doctor. You hope they die (and not just hope but apparently relish the thought: "I can't wait...") just to teach mean old orac a lesson? orac is the bad guy?! orac is the callous one?!

"Wow so many people commenting that have no idea what stress does to the body, it makes it acidic, this feeds cancer."

Might as well comment on this while I'm at it. I was unaware stress could cause acidosis nor do I know of any mechanism through which it would. Is this the kind of acidosis that is diagnosed from urine with pH strips and treated with an "alkaline" diet?

By capnkrunch (not verified) on 28 Feb 2015 #permalink

Orac, have you had ever experienced a coffee enema, or Gershon Therapy? Then STFU about it, and stop being so arrogant about how educated you are with the human body. Your education is limited only to one archaic and most-often destructive modality. You're a medical doctor. Your understanding of human physiology is so very limited. Get over yourself, and your narrow education and perspective. If in your world, the only logical option and treatment is to "cut the arm and shoulder off", it shows how not evolved your world truly is. And that your arrogant self-inflicted authority to call anything "quackery" is nothing more than laughable.

@Cressidia #404 said, "Wonder what would happen if the funding you get from the innocent people who are convinced that ‘yours’ is the ONLY way, were instead to be donated to alternative medicine and that your ‘extra’ funding was cut off during that period of time. Imagine what strides we might make with all of that money . . . ."

Really? First of all medicine doesn't claim to be the only way. It claims to be the only way with empirical evidence . . . and it freely admits its limitations. Whereas quack medicine does not.

So here we have here another attempt to shift the goal posts: "SBM medicine picks on us because they have all the resources to do research to prove their therapies and we don't."

So let's do a quick comparison, shall we?

I looked up both the Gerson Clinic in Mexico (that Jessie promoted so much) and the Mayo Clinic (one of the premier bastions of SBM in the entire world).

I wanted to see what their websites had to say about ongoing research.

Under "Our Programs", the Gerson Clinic lists, "Gerson Basics, Telephone Coaching Service, Practitioner Training, Gerson Boot Camp, Cooking Class, Charlotte Gerson Health Restoration Center, and Recovered Patients Network."

I could find no tab that led me to any discussion of ongoing research, or any links to actual research of any kind.

So let's look at the Mayo Clinic.

On the Home Page is a tab for Research. Click or hover over that and you get a list that includes, "Explore Research Labs, Find Clinical Trials, Research Faculty, Post doctoral Fellowships, Discovery's Edge Magazine, Search Publications, and Training Grant Positions." You can explore all the research Mayo is doing, and even access full text versions of their research!

Mayo is open and transparent. Gerson is nothing but a billboard shilling a product. So what research are they doing again? Their services certainly are not inexpensive. For a treatment plan that costs around 11K upfront, no insurance coverage, you would think that they would have some money for research.

Tell me, Cressidia, why don't you start an endowment for research purposes, and let me know how that goes. I'd be really interested to see if these jokers would actually come up with a reliable and verifiable controlled double blind study to prove that their carrot juice and coffee enemas works as a cure for cancer.

there is no "right" or wrong choice. many people have healed and many have died using natural treatments, and many have died from western medical treatments, and many have survived. My sister chose the best oncologists, and every type of chemo etc... and it didn't stop her from dying. Will I call her doctors quacks because she died? healing is much more complex, the treatment is partly responsible. and how about these cases which can't be explained? http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-1018914

Our body being a millions-of-years-old natural biological system, it's kind of absurd to say that no 'cancer'--a broad if not vague term-- is treatable with a natural substance of any kind. I personally know a number of people who have been completely healed of a variety of different 'cancers' using juicing, fasting and other natural therapies. One woman I know healed herself from body-wide metastases with juicing and fasting only AFTER the doctors told her that their allopathic, chemical treatments could no longer help her.

It's really not just one thing or the other. We are talking about a whole range of disease with multiple variables at play for each individual.

Unfortunately, people are going to use her death as a reason to claim that nutritional approaches to fighting disease don't work, which is too bad because we do not know what the outcome would have been if she had taken a nutritional approach in the first place. (Kris Carr, for example, seems to be doing quite well.) Ainscough didn't turn to a natural healing approach until her cancer had already come back - and it is unclear what kind of diet or protocol she was on after chemo, before the cancer came back. Unfortunately, as is so often the case, Ainscough only used a natural approach as a last resort after first using a chemotherapy and then having a recurrence. Then when the natural approach doesn't work, people blame the approach, but if she had used a natural approach to healing right from the start, then the outcome may have been different, so it is not fair to say that her death demonstrates that natural approaches are ineffective, although of course if one does not take proper care of one's body, then there is going to come a time where any approach is ineffective.

Oops. Messed up entering my name in 424 above. Apologies.

426 :facepalm:

...it’s kind of absurd to say that no ‘cancer’–a broad if not vague term– is treatable with a natural substance of any kind.

I don't think I've seen anyone saying this ... it seems like a rather large strawman.

What people want are good studies showing effectiveness and not anecdotes.

By stewartt1982 (not verified) on 28 Feb 2015 #permalink

'Cressida – why don’t you and these “naturopathic” clinics raise the money to conduct these studies? These clinics and doctors have no intention of coughing up a penny out of their pockets for a rigourous study. And you have the nerve to accuse scientific medicine of being all about money!'

Are you joking? IT IS ALL ABOUT MONEY and GREED - and you all know it.

'Tell me, Cressidia, why don’t you start an endowment for research purposes, and let me know how that goes. I’d be really interested to see if these jokers would actually come up with a reliable and verifiable controlled double blind study to prove that their carrot juice and coffee enemas works as a cure for cancer.'

Yeah - we'll all get right on that as soon as the INDUSTRY coughs up all the money. So - gimme a ball park - how much money are we looking at here?

I keep waiting for one, just one of these reported miracles to find someone with the skill set to go through their medical records and write up the case history and get it published.

You would think out of the tens, nay thousands or millions of people cured so completely at least one would have enough information in the medical record to make a great paper out of it. Yes it is anecdotal but a lot of research starts with one good anecdotal and well documented case study that showed something unexpected happened.

My biggest problem with the wellness warrior is the fact she let people believe she was cured. And said she was sharing her story, yet leaving out any explanations of what was really going on. Having a break from blogging is one thing, but deleting questions from her Facebook over the state of her arm is not cool. If you want to share your story, share it all, you can't pick and choose just the good bits.
A doctor will provide the options and all the problems that can occur from Each treatment. She should have been more honest. But I guess that wouldn't have been the big cash cow she managed to create!

And people living in mansions for selling natural products aren't capable of being greedy? They really try to make sure they don't make more than the median income but the money is being forced on them so might as well live in luxury as there is no other way on earth to spend all that cash.

So if a foundation gave you the money or a grass-roots campaign came up with the money or every supplement manufacturer or three gave $1 for every bottle sold for a year you wouldn't spend the money. It must only come from what pharma would spend on pharma research? Which is a different pot of money than all the other money spent on research.

About the largest grants I've been around run up to about 10 million for 5 years so really isn't some insane amount of money. After all a lot of not-for-profit foundations fund standard research so it really can be done.

Heck these people claim to be geniuses and inventive as they understand physiology that no scientist could ever imagine a $5 million McArthur Genius grant will keep a lab going for a long time. Not sure the process on those but they give them for all kinds of work.

I think a bigger problem than the money will be finding anyone who will let you use their exact protocol. Because if you design it based on what you think you can find out about it based on what the Internet google will putll up, then they can say it wasn't the real protocol so of course it didn't work, if only you'd really done it correctly. Every time it doesn't work it is a failure of the people to not do it right.

This was a really important article to write, but a very difficult one. It's been a long time since I've read something equally tactful, thought-provoking, and informative. Thank you.

Orac, have you had ever experienced a coffee enema

I think that most of us prefer to keep our fetishes private.

For those that speak unkindly of her, everyone has the right to choose their path, if people were influenced by her choices then that is their decision fault.

FTFY.

I haven't followed this story that closely other than a few blogs Orac did on it. But I skimmed through some of the negative comments to it today, and my reaction is really? too soon to blog? Orac is blaming the victim? Sorry...that is entirely in the realm of AltMed. I'm quite sure somewhere soon an AltMed advocate will be saying she died because she didn't do Gerson soon enough in her disease, or she didn't follow the protocols correctly, or if only she hadn't tried conventional medicine first. Mark my words, and keep an eye on the nutter brigade.

This unfortunate woman HAS done immense harm to others, by inspiring them to follow her deluded path. We don't know how many other people followed her advice, and ignored the recommendations of their physicians, and may soon die themselves.

I say keep up the good work, Orac. This nonsense needs continual exposure and publicity if we have any hope of gaining ground.

I think it is absolutely appropriate for Orac, or any of the skeptic bloggers to discuss this case.

By NewcoasterMD (not verified) on 28 Feb 2015 #permalink

Johnny @414

I won't be able to do it as well but here's my attempt at explaining pH levels:

Your blood's normal pH is 7.35-7.45. This range is slightly alkalinic (basic) and very narrow. This pH is neccessary for certain essential enzymes to function. A change of as little as 0.1 in either direction can lead acutely to death.

There are 3 majors systems for maintaining pH in your body: respiratory, circulating buffers, and your kidneys. Your respiratory system controls pH because CO2 dissolved in the blood forms carbonic acid. Breathe too fast and you lose too much CO2 and become alkalotic (respiratory alkalosis) breathe too slow and you become acidic (respiratory acidosis). Respiratory control of pH is pretty fast (within minutes)

The main buffer in your blood is bicarbonate. This is works pretty much like baking soda neutralizing vinegar. In fact, baking soda is sodium bicarbonate and sodium bicarbonate is a common emergency drug for treating acidosis. This is your first line of defense and the fastest mechanism.

Your kidneys control excretion or retention of pretty much any acid or base if feels like. This is a very powerful but very slow system (hours to days). It won't save you from a life threatening imbalance but rather controls day to day fluctuations and "cleans up the mess" so to speak after the other systems (or medicine) do the initial stabilization.

Acid-base derangements are categorized as alkalosis or acidosis depending on if the pH is up or down and respirator or metabolic depending on if it is caused by the CO2 level (and therefore respiratory system) or not. A derangement in one system can be compensated by a derangemebt in the other direction of the other system. This is why diabetic ketoacidosis (a metabolic acidosis) causes deep, rapid respirations (called Kussmaul respirations).

If have never heard of stress causing acidosis and if it did it would be an acute life threat like Johnny mentioned not a cause of cancer. Metabolic acaidosis is a very serious problem by itself and doubly so because its causes are devastating as well. A couple include sepsis, renal failure, and massive rhabdomyalosis (breakdown of muscle tissue; for example as seen in crush injuries).

I don't know enough about cancer pathophysiology to comment on cancer's behavior in acidotic environments.

I don't have sources to cite for this unfortunately; it was all knowledge from my head. I'm a paramedic who has critical care experience and many, many critical care transports involve some sort of acidosis. If you want further reading I would maybe start at Wikipedia: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acid-base_physiology

By capnkrunch (not verified) on 28 Feb 2015 #permalink

Am I the only one noticing a pattern in the language of the hit-and-run woo-droppers? They all use the same adjectives and the same stock phrases, and all of them tell us “not to judge”… then judge US.

Well you've got your "new age" touchy feely babbling mixed up with the outrage of offended "true believers", vague references to all the unnamed people who've "been helped", etc.

A number of comments and the tone of these are very similar to what I've seen on ponzi/pyramid scheme forums and blogs that discuss these scams.

Anyone pointing out the nature of the fraudulent scheme is relentlessly attacked with accusations of being a "dream stealer" and/or "not knowing they're talking about" and/or are "jealous", etc. and/or being a promoter of a different scheme.

Along with personal testimonies asserting the "integrity", "kindness", ad nauseum of the fraudulent scheme operator, who in every case just wants to "help" the "little guy" achieve their dream.

When the fraudulent scheme eventually collapses, it's blamed on whoever tried to warn people that this would happen and/or "big gubmint" trying to keep the little guy down.

The remarkable thing about some people who get taken by a con man, or woman, is that they'll continue defending the person who scammed them even after that person is behind bars.

Whole lot of magical thinking and dishonesty going on.

I was willing to given Jess the benefit of the doubt, until I read comment #271 re: the "B-School".

At this point, I just see her as another "say anything", "fake it till you make it", etc. web "marketer" who found the "secret " that answered her question as to "how I was going to make enough money to fund the lucrative, laid-back lifestyle I desired to live. Keeping the fridge stocked with fresh organic produce is pricey; let alone my penchant for nice clothes."

The secret of course was spout whatever BS was necessary to keep the money flowing in from suckers, e.g., pretending everything was fine and what she was doing was working when it seems it wasn't..

I'm sure that at least some of the folks commenting in her favour here are pushing their own "brand" of woo driven commerce ... perhaps associated in some way with Jess' "brand" ... and don't want their applecart upset and others just can't accept that they were, to whatever extent, scammed by Jess and/or the products she pushed.

One quack down, the rest should fall like dominoes.

By thisplanetidon… (not verified) on 28 Feb 2015 #permalink

If Jess Ainscough had chosen to forgo a radical, disfiguring surgery for her cancer and left it at that, I think the tone of Orac's piece would have been different. However, the second that Ainscough began to publicly portray herself as a "wellness warrior", capitalizing on her alleged success at living with (or being cured of) cancer, she became a public figure, like it or not.

She made extraordinary claims, claims not backed up by evidence, and it is perfectly reasonable to assess those claims for their validity. And THAT is my big problem with the tone trolling and "too soon" crowd.

Jess Ainscough spent seven years telling anyone who would listen that she "thrived with cancer". She SOLD that message to anyone who would pay her. Her last months throw that entire portrayal into question. Jess Ainscough's entire public persona and message is based on her personal story, and there is no better time (painful as it may be) to discuss that than today.

All that being said, it doesn't make Jess' death any more sad. I'm sad when anyone dies, especially someone with many years ahead of her.

I have to conclude that either no good evidence of "alt" cures exists, or those who have the evidence and have not published it are flat out evil. I can see no other way to view those who have solid information on reliable, inexpensive and readily available cures for disease but fail to share it.
Of course if these cures became widely known, it would end demand for profitable "education centres" or expensive self-help books. Free, do-it-yourself info would be ubiquitous and the ingredients for the cures available at the nearest supermarket. A few spas targeting well-heeled clients who prefer someone else do all the work might remain.

When someone in real medicine develops a new method, the method is shared far and wide, whether it profits the developer or not. Alt-med types may argue that there are vast sums of money made from supplying pharmaceuticals used in the method, which is often true enough. But real medical practitioners publish results of the use of those medicines, so that anyone anywhere can freely adopt the method. If the required medicines are very cheap, the sharing of method is still done. (an example is the research that has demonstrated that tap water is just as good as much more expensive sterile saline for routine irrigation of most wounds, and that PVP-iodine for irrigation is not useful or even damaging - findings that cuts potential revenues of millions of dollars from the likes of Baxter, Braun and Purdue and earn the researchers nothing more than some moderate pay for time spent - and the gratitude of medical practitioners world-wide).

Martin @429:

I was wondering when some commenter would blame Jess Ainscough's death on her not doing natural therapies correctly. I'm shocked it took this long.

I guess when all fails, alt-med fanatics go ahead and blame the victim. I'd call it despicable, but after decades of seeing this nonsense I'm numb to it, really.

"many people have healed and many have died using natural treatments..."

You'll have to pony up some citations for the natural treatments having 'healed many people'.

And then explain how the rate of 'healing' differs from spontaneous remission, etc., or how many had opted for excision of the tumor prior to their 'natural treatment' option.

I once engaged the self proclaimed wellness warrior online. Her desire for money outweighed her moral obligation to be honest online. After a personal attack I was blocked from her page where she continued to push her 'wellness' for money.

I don't feel that she was scammed by those who push these false therapies, she was well aware that they didn't work, she buried her own mother far to soon as a result of these false therapies.

In the end she suffered, and she sought out conventional medicine. If that isn't a message to all who support these money grubs and their fake therapies, nothing is.

Orac is right. Don't mistake his passion and expertise for rudeness or poor judgement.

I am one of the people living with cancer who appreciates that he takes time to share his knowledge. Without people like him it would be more difficult to resist the quack pushers who come out of the woodwork when a cancer diagnosis is delivered.

Science is not an opinion. It in fact is fact

I once engaged the self proclaimed wellness warrior online. Her desire for money outweighed her moral obligation to be honest online. After a personal attack I was blocked from her page where she continued to push her ‘wellness’ for money.

This kind of thing is why my eyes always roll when someone starts a post here saying "I know this will be deleted" or something similar. Our host here has always had such a light hand in moderation, whereas it is incredibly easy to be banned from most alt med forums and groups that I have seen, if you happen to question anything. No matter how nice you go about it, you almost always find yourself banned if you do not toe the line. Yet here, you really have to work for that to happen. It feels like grade A projection, that is what they would do, so they expect it elsewhere. And then have the gall to say people like Orac are closed minded and want to silence people.

I am a cancer survivor. Without the benefit of modern medicine and following what my doctors told me I wouldn't be here. I have no issue with wellness and trying to be healthy. But I do agree with you, to ignore modern medicine, to vilify it, is in vogue. I don't understand why it has to be one or the other. There is a balance.

I did follow Jess's blog a bit and hoped that this would not be the final outcome since I hoped there were real alternatives to the pain and misery associated with much of traditional cancer treatment. I do have a problem with the fact that she tried to hide what was happening. Was she in denial or was she not willing to admit what was really going on to her followers, who knows, but since she decided to be so public with her story she should have been honest.

I have no medical background other than as a patient. I have seen people who were going about their lives and noticed a lump and within a week or two were dead following standard treatment. I have also seen people who lived far beyond the expectations of their doctors and also ones that died on chemo sooner than what they were told to expect without chemo. I read that Charlotte Gerson broke her hip at age 91 and it healed up completely in 5 weeks and she was back at work. If this is true that is amazing. I read about Lorraine Day, an orthopedic surgeon, who refused chemo and radiation for her cancer and she is still doing well 15 years later. I do see some of the people who claim alternative therapies helped them but then it was only after they had surgery so maybe the surgery was all that was needed. I have lived long enough to have seen doctors advocating cigarette smoking and also other treatments that have since been proven to be not necessary or counterproductive. The placebo effect is something to consider as well as the will to live. The body is so complex and I do see that sometimes traditional medicine takes a quick fix approach without considering long term effects. Alternative advocates seem to view things in a one size fits all simplistic approach which when it does not work is the fault of the patient. I'm not sure that everything is as black or white. right or wrong as some think. I think we all do the best we can with what we know at the time and go from there.

By NotSureWhatToThink (not verified) on 28 Feb 2015 #permalink

‘Tell me, Cressidia, why don’t you start an endowment for research purposes, and let me know how that goes. I’d be really interested to see if these jokers would actually come up with a reliable and verifiable controlled double blind study to prove that their carrot juice and coffee enemas works as a cure for cancer.’

Cressida: "Yeah – we’ll all get right on that as soon as the INDUSTRY coughs up all the money. So – gimme a ball park – how much money are we looking at here?... The fact that MOST PEOPLE don’t even know there IS an alternative, because Big Pharma ads take over the show. Give US money to run ads like that."

Since the supplement industry in the U.S. alone rakes in more than $30 billion dollars annually, a tiny fraction of that amount should be sufficient to run a few decent studies on Gerson therapy. Ever thought of contacting Big Supplement (for instance, one of their trade/lobbying organizations) to push for such studies? I wouldn't be surprised if 1% of their annual TV ad budget was sufficient for funding.

By Dangerous Bacon (not verified) on 28 Feb 2015 #permalink

"Wonder what would happen if the funding you get from the innocent people who are convinced that ‘yours’ is the ONLY way, were instead to be donated to alternative medicine and that your ‘extra’ funding was cut off during that period of time. Imagine what strides we might make with all of that money (or not, but how do you KNOW)? Give us 5 years. Send all the cancer dollars raised to all qualified Naturopathic doctors and clinics, and see what kind of results THEY can come up with, with that money. THEN and only THEN, would you be able to even THINK of comparing stats."

Cressida, just sit down in your highchair and let mommy or daddy put on your tin foil hat while I explain this to you.

You say "give us 5 years." How about 20? That's about how long the National Center for Complementary and Alternative medicine, NCCAM, has been around. It has wasted nearly 3 billion tax payer dollars trying to prove unicorn piss can cure everything.

http://www.nbcnews.com/id/31190909/#.U43lhPlxR8E

I doubt your going to look at that link, if you do you'll just come up with some other childish response about "big pharma" or "big government" or "big media"

So please tell me what strides were made by NCCAM with the 3 billion tax payer dollars? I'll answer that for you. ZERO. NADA. ZILCH.

You can easily look on pubmed and find thousands of studies on alternative and natural treatments that all come to the same conclusion, that they are all useless.

You want limited and precious research dollars given to Naturoquacks?? Are you really that stupid? I'll answer that again, yes you are that stupid. Naturoquacks that believe in homeopathy, accupuncture, reiki, and ayruvedic medicine? You think that nonsense will outperform real medicine? Not one Naturopathic treatment has ever been shown to treat anything. All that garbage has failed in every study. It's all useless snake oil. But you want us to waste more money on it. Fucking brilliant.

RIP Jess.
The mainstream medical establishment should embrace Gersen Therapy as a choice of treatment in hospitals as at least this treatment does not give patients the nasty side effects that Chemo, Surgery and Radiation do. The expenses of the non successful Chemo, Surgery and Radiation treatments make greedy multi-national pharmaceutical corporations huge profits. Sadly the medical establishments dont want to know about alternative treatments and instead pander to greed when it comes to cancer as well as other diseases.

I was slightly surprised when I first started lurking on this blog by how little moderation there is. This is despite comments that range from irrelevant to outright and unwarranted attacks on our host and other posters. Having been on for a while I think the approach works. It can be a bit edgy at times but it makes for interesting reading and it's good to see how the rubbish is either ignored or addressed appropriately by the various commentators.
A far cry from many of the other forums out there.

I'm a naturopath in training because the medical world can not give my family members or myself answers for health problems. . Both natural and scientific paths do not have all of the answers/solutions .Each person has the right to research what feels right for them and choose the path they wish to take.
Leanne Morris
Naturopath in training.
http://cottagetails.blogspot.co.nz/

By Leanne@cottagetails (not verified) on 28 Feb 2015 #permalink

Pam B- What exactly is the Pharma industry doing to keep you silent? I am not being cynical or anything. I am actually very interested.

By toadboy65 (not verified) on 28 Feb 2015 #permalink

Jessica’s cousin wrote to Orac: ” Respect my family and close friends by allowing us to mourn.”

How is Orac preventing you from mourning?

By Marry Me, Mindy (not verified) on 28 Feb 2015 #permalink

You should be ashamed! Who are you to comment on whether she would or wouldn't live and what kind of a life she would have had for that matter!!!!.
She will leave an amazing legacy and has changed 1000's of lives probably something you will never experience!

And many still don't get the basic and simple message of all of this.

Jess had a right to choose whatever treatment she wanted.

The problem: influencing others while LYING about how her treatment was going.

Jessica’s cousin wrote to Orac: ” Respect my family and close friends by allowing us to mourn.”

How is Orac preventing you from mourning?

Sorry about that last attempt.

Just wanted to add that her cousin CAME TO ORAC'S BLOG and told him to leave them alone!

See my comment from yesterday. I have no idea why anyone who is intent on mourning would be reading this post. If you are mourning, why would you be doing internet searches on the deceased to find out what is said?

Unless, of course, it's because "friends" are sending you the link, which comes to "you should go read these terrible things people are saying about your cousin." In which case, I wonder, who is the real asshole?

How does Orac commenting ON HIS OWN BLOG affect the family's attempts to mourn?

By Marry Me, Mindy (not verified) on 28 Feb 2015 #permalink

Her self-imposed death won't stop her believers in continuing to believe, but I hope that a dead young woman won't be a good role model to anyone else in the future. Hard to continue to be the Wellness Warrior when declining treatment has led to her death.

@Kelly - they "aren't" going to get it.

They've become so invested in the "Wellness Warrior" that any negative information whatsoever is viewed as a direct attack on themselves.

They aren't protecting Jess' memory, they are protect her lies....

@Andrew - good point.

Of course, if Jess had been upfront & honest with her condition and spun the message that she was attempting to be as healthy as possible, even as her Cancer got worse - i.e. living life to the fullest in the time she had left, then perhaps I could respect her.

Unfortunately, she never lifted the veil to say that (except towards the very, very end) and instead pushed the image that she was beating or had beat her Cancer using "Alternative Means."

That's why this article is important.

Since the supplement industry in the U.S. alone rakes in more than $30 billion dollars annually, a tiny fraction of that amount should be sufficient to run a few decent studies on Gerson therapy. Ever thought of contacting Big Supplement (for instance, one of their trade/lobbying organizations) to push for such studies? I wouldn’t be surprised if 1% of their annual TV ad budget was sufficient for funding.

When I saw Cressidia write, "Yeah – we’ll all get right on that as soon as the INDUSTRY coughs up all the money." I was thinking, yeah, when will the alt med and supplement industry cough up the money. They are not hurting for money, they want to sell these services and products. But of course, Cressidia doesn't mean that industry, apparently they are not responsible for doing that, someone else is. It made me think of a line from The Simpsons, where Ned Flanders' mom says "You gotta help us, Doc. We've tried nothin' and we're all out of ideas."

A few general observations,putting aside the quackery part of the Gerson protocol for a minute,and concentrating both on Jess's very telling 2011 video,and what is on the Gerson web site.

In the 2011 video Orac links to,Jess mentions Gerson being used for Crohn's.As someone who has lived most of their life with GI disease,looking at the protocol on the Gerson web site scares the s**t out of me,no pun intended.

There is a lengthy group of contraindications on the Gerson web site.That alone ought to tell you how dangerous this is.Frankly the risks look a lot scarier than any of the lists of side effects of some cancer drugs.

I have not read any of Jess' blog posts or seen any of her other videos,but was she one of those who regularly spouted the usual talking points about Big Pharma?

KayMarie@70,Christine Marlowe@ 106,Domenico@ 226

Jess did not have a cancer that could be caught and treated early,or prevented.

I admit,I know nothing about epithelioid sarcoma.In fact,I never heard of it until these blog posts.But it seemed obvious to me that any cancer that starts so young,and is so severe,would have a genetic basis.In her video,Jess mentions both her parents had cancer,another big red flag right there.In a few seconds on Google,I came up with this as one of the top results.

Martin@429,you and others who believe this way about Ms. Ainscough,you especially need to read this.

SMARCB1/INI1 genetic inactivation is responsible for tumorigenic properties of epithelioid sarcoma cell line VAESBJ
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23576573

Granted,this is from 2013,but you do have to wonder what the doctors Jess saw told her about her condition before she turned to Gerson.

The Gerson web site also says this.

Can the Gerson Therapy treat rare or uncommon genetic conditions?

Unfortunately, we have had little or no experience at the Gerson clinic with rare conditions or those of a genetic or congenital origin. These conditions present unique challenges and it is unlikely that there would be reversal or complete recovery from utilizing the Gerson Therapy. Our experience is with the more common cancers and certain chronic degenerative conditions.

A reminder.Today is International Rare Disease Day.Many cancers are counted among rare diseases.

I come from this from a slightly different perspective,as someone who struggled for decades with all sorts of sickness,as well as all sorts of abuse from doctors,only to finally get multiple rare metabolic diagnoses.I see Jess as one more victim of the inability of most doctors to recognize and treat rare diseases.Not to mention how research does not come soon enough for many.This is why patients like Jess become victims of,and shills for,quacks,be it Andrew Wakefield or Charlotte Gerson.It's very sad,and says a lot about how our health care system treats patients with rare diseases.The desperate measures patients and families are driven to,and the woo they get brainwashed with.Make no mistake Jess was the heavily programmed victim of a biomedical cult,just like the children of parents who fall for Wakefield and Kerri Rivera's garbage are.I would hope that Jess' story might act as a cautionary one,but that would be too much to hope for.

Kristen @229 Would being respectful of choices include the choice of parents not to vaccinate their kids?

Lucy@ 361,you are obviously loaded with toxins.Why not calm down with a nice coffee enema. :D

Orac @99
How can I become a minion of our scaly overlord,too?

By Roger Kulp (not verified) on 28 Feb 2015 #permalink

@Roger - first rule of Shill Club....don't talk about Shill Club.

The recurring theme of "people who take chemo die as well" is looking to me like saying "People doing parachute jumping die from time to time so it is ok to convince people to jump from high altitudes without any equipment at all."

By The Smith of Lie (not verified) on 28 Feb 2015 #permalink

Dangerous Bacon @ 400,here is what is said about the cost of the Gerson Therapy from http://gerson.org/pdfs/Cost-Estimate-on-Gerson-Therapy.pdf.

Cost Estimate on Gerson Therapy

This document is designed to estimate the cost for a patient on the full Gerson Therapy protocol.

This protocol is outlined on pages 196-197 of Healing the Gerson Way. The price estimate for the

produce for one month is a calculation based on 17-20 pounds of food a day. Supplement1 dosages

will be adjusted depending upon response to the therapy, and such changes may increase or

decrease the cost over time.

On page 15 in the Gerson Therapy Handbook, there is a grocery list for a week. It is recommended

to make a copy of page 15, and write on each line the cost per pound of produce, in order to find

your cost estimate.

• 2-week clinic stay: $11,000(travel expenses not included)

• Juicer:

o Norwalk Juicer - $2400 new

o Champion and Hydraulic Press - $600

o Juice cloths (4 pack) - $15 or refer to the Products & Resources List for cloth

fabric at $20/yard (fabric lasts 3-4 months)

• Organic produce for one month – (full protocol 600 lbs) $750-1200

• Organic Coffee - (5 lbs) - $38.50 + shipping (from Café Mam)

• Clay - $11/lb

• Castor Oil - $15/pint

• Distiller - $500 or RO Unit - $300-500

• Chamomile Tea - $18/lb.

• Peppermint Tea - $15/lb.

1 Approximate Cost of Supplements for 3 Months – Est. $1000

(We recommend purchasing a second refrigerator due to the large amounts of produce Gerson

patients need to consume and store)

By Roger Kulp (not verified) on 28 Feb 2015 #permalink

The mainstream medical establishment should embrace Gersen Therapy as a choice of treatment in hospitals as at least this treatment does not give patients the nasty side effects that Chemo, Surgery and Radiation do.

Oh sure as long as you don't count excruciating death as a nasty side effect.

She will leave an amazing legacy and has changed 1000’s of lives probably something you will never experience!

You are absolutely right because we'll utilise SBM.

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

Never heard of Jess before, only on her passing, when the "thriving with cancer" phrase intrigued me enough to look further.

What I gather from many comments and articles - majority of people agree that it was her right to decide on her treatment options.

I believe it was also her right to promote her decision, her views and to encourage people to follow her steps.

Where I do see a problem is when she started hiding the truth and lying to people - for self promotion, for money, for self delusion, whatever the reason.

When she started going down that path it's she did wrong.

Everyone is entitled to do their own research and decide on their steps accordingly. But when the data out there is skewed and adjusted to fit the image, not the truth - that's misleading and it's getting people to die earlier or unnecessarily.

Jess probably had her doubts. But she also had sponsors and people telling her what not to say / admit. Perhaps even holding her to some contractual agreement. Who knows.

Sadly she passed away. She might have with conventional treatment as well.

But many people believing her being cured through her methods might have followed her. And for those or future ones - the truth should be published. So people can make their own informed decisions, chose their own paths - based of real facts. I'm not choosing sides, and hope I will never have to.

@Lawrence, that is spot on. There are people that choose no treatment or alternative treatments all the time. Had Jess been honest about how things were going for her, then she could have been a help for those that choose that same path. Posting things she has found help her feel better, etc, not deceiving concerning her condition.

Personally I think that is where she could have done a lot of good.

When my uncle opted to change a lot in his life after refusing treatment for prostate cancer, he talked about those things and talked to his doctor about those things. They were good healthy choices for anyone, sick or not. My uncle never, ever put out the delusion he would be cured of cancer or these things would affect his cancer in any way.

When he was about 74 and got the diagnosis, he knew refusing treatment would lead to his death and he was ok with that. When he was diagnosed my aunt had just gotten really sick and that is why he refused treatment, so he could take care of her. He had plenty of family to help him, so it didn't have to be an either or choice, but it was the choice he wanted.

There are others like him all the time and Jess could have helped those by being honest about what she was going through and also giving them a community and outlet to express themselves also, a support group.

@Cressida

Here is an idea. Why not contact some of the most awesome alternative treatment and natural healers that we have on this wonderful online research laboratory and ask for 50% of their income from their practice and in absolutely no time, you will have more than Big Pharma. Try these, and see what response you get.
Mike Adams
Stanley Burzynski
Brian Clements
Nicholas Gonzalez
Joseph Mercola
Rick Simpson
Gerson Institute

Come back and tell us how much you raised and what you plan on researching.

The mainstream medical establishment should embrace Gersen Therapy as a choice of treatment in hospitals as at least this treatment does not give patients the nasty side effects that Chemo, Surgery and Radiation do.

Why not embrace bubble baths while drinking champagne and eating caviar, as this doesn't have the nasty side effects either? Not only would this be cheaper, and far easier to do than all the juicing and enemas, it also has just as much connection to curing cancer as the Gerson nonsense does.

Thanks for another great and thoughtful article Orac.

Some facts:

-Jess projected a very positive inspiring persona
-She profited from that persona by promoting herself as a self-professed educator
-Her body was her choice
-People believed what she said and subsequently followed her lead
-She had a public image that was maintained to continue her self professed income
-She was not 100% transparent about her health condition and progress
-All public figures are open to public critique
-It was not her fault through lifestyle that her body developed cancer, anyone from any walk of life can get cancer
-Healthy eating does not require a highly restrictive diet and multiple invasive daily enemas
-Being housebound is not living a full life or "thriving"

@meg #278 - thank you for sharing this. @Rose from Australia, thank you so much for sharing your story. I hope your scans come back clear and I wish you all the best. I felt the same way - as in "Why are these young women who are battling terminal illnesses looking so amazing and changing their lives and I feel awful, look terrible and can't get out of bed"
The answer of course as I know now is because there is a well branded marketing formula behind it, a strategy , a PR Plan.
I wouldn't mind so much if as @laurence said #465 there was some honesty about living healthy and making the most of the time left. But it wasn't that it was marketing hype and spin.
Remember the wellness warrior tour? and the best friends that were on stage and behind the scenes?
They are still at their enabling, and marketing. I really struggle with that.
Same Marie Forleo B School,
http://melissaambrosini.com/unbeatablebschoolbonusqa
https://www.facebook.com/inspacesbetween
https://www.facebook.com/suchdifferentskies

Live a public life, market a public story - it stays public.
For every person who signed up through Jess' link, it was worth $1000 in affiliate commission. Same with Jess's friends.

That's the price of staying in delusion, or dishonesty.
Rosalie's blog really helped me see through the delusion.
https://rosaliehilleman.wordpress.com/2014/02/21/the-wellness-warrior-d…
Orac's blogs really helped me and I am so thankful Orac that you have written your posts. The information you post can save lives. I know you're a cancer surgeon. I know there are probably lots of other things you could be doing. For me I'm so glad you posted this and your other articles.
I'm sorry for the mean things people are saying. Please keep posting.

@A

When I read about her day that revolved around juice and enemas, etc.. That was nuts. The woman couldn't leave the house for more than about 45 minutes.

My sister had chemo once every two weeks. She felt bad the next day was fine after that. My sister had pretty aggressive treatment, but some some treatments are worse. She still held down a 25 hour a week job during chemo. She didn't have to, she wanted to do it.

She wasn't sick and in bed and not thriving and not living. I've seen some very tough chemo in my time, but I have seen a whole lot more that isn't as tough.

Those of you saying "people die with chemo"..

Contrary to what some seem to think, you just don't do chemo for 5-7 years. So even if the chemo is tough, patients every day get through that part and go on living. Some make a full recovery and some just get some extra years.

No one has said that conventional medicine guarantees everyone a cure.

It's clear that the writer of this does not condone the Gerson method as a cancer treatment, and that they were not happy with Jessica Ainscough's endorsement and promotion of it. That's fine, but I still feel this and other articles written on here about her just reek of smugness. This poor girl was dealt a terrible hand and tried to make the most of it. I am blessed with good health but I still read her blog and was inspired by her positive attitude. It's not like she was pretending to be a doctor and insisting that Gerson was the only cure to cancer. The message I got from her blog was simply "Gerson therapy worked for me" and I feel she truly believed that. People are so cruel to judge her. RIP beautiful Jessica

I'm with a-non. I'm a cancer patient; one who's chosen conventional treatment. But I can appreciate how someone can weigh the benefit against the particular treatment and decide the life extension isn't worth the reduction in quality of life. I've often said that there is a point at which I would not continue to fight this battle. A point where the quality of life treatment gives me isn't worth the expected life extension. It's a personal decision no one can make for you.

Where I take issue with Jess is in her promotion of things with no history of success in increasing life expectancy as "cures." You can't cure cancer with a good diet. Recent evidence is that lifestyle isn't even the major factor in getting cancer. Heredity is a bigger factor in cancer than lifestyle. No one chooses their genes. The biggest factor in cancer risk appears to be luck. I was unlucky. Jess was supremely unlucky.

http://www.sciencemag.org/content/347/6217/78.abstract

By spookiewon (not verified) on 28 Feb 2015 #permalink

I’m a naturopath in training because the medical world can not give my family members or myself answers for health problems.

So you opted for naturopathy because you prefer people lie to you?

I realize that's pretty common. Suzanne Sommers, for example, wrote a whole book praising "doctors" who lie to their patients. Allopathic doctors, she says, won't tell you they can cure you. The doctors in her book, however, will tell you that. They are lying through their teeth, but hey...

I have to say that it is pretty odd that a criticism of "the medical world" is that they don't claim they can know or fix everything. Meanwhile, an aromatherapist or homeopath has the cure for it all (and most of the time, it is the same thing that does it)

By Marry Me, Mindy (not verified) on 28 Feb 2015 #permalink

@Nat #478

About the public life thing, I am stunned how all evidence of Jess Ainscoughs LIFE WORK has been scrubbed off the internet. If that isn't an example of mass control and manipulation, I don't know what is. And what now for Jess loyal followers? They are left with nothing to fall back on, whether it was right or wrong. Surely they must feel cheated after paying to join the movement. A flimsy generic disclaimer that individuals bear the responsibility of their own choices and actions was not sufficient, the handlers needed to ensure they removed the risk of liability since it's obvious the products they were selling did not live up to their claims. I feel sorry for Jess remaining family and friends.

Who knew the grim reality of her condition and the struggles she must have faced daily. She really did put up a brave front and for that I commend her. She couldn't have done it without the support of people around her to reinforce the difficult path she took. Surely they should bear at least some responsibility for everything that has happened.

Photogenic young lady and self styled media guru embraces cosmic woo-woo and dies a painful and preventable death while advocating the same dangerous nonsense to similarly challenged pea-brains. It is difficult for many to understand the temerity of one who chooses to throw their own life away, let alone encourage others to do likewise, given the example of her own late mother.

For some it's even harder to find any sympathy for what really appears to be nothing more than Darwinism in action. It might even be a consolation to some that she won't be contributing to the gene pool.

Wow. You sound like an ego-driven douche. Have some respect for her and her family and to the people that believe in natural methods. Quackery to you, but to many these modalities work.

It gets so boring reading the same ignorant drive-by comments over and over again. I really wish a few of them would actually read a few of the comments before posting yet another comment. I guess that would smack to much of effort, and perhaps having a willingness to consider they might be wrong. If you are going to claim these things work, you are going to be expected to do more than state that. Evidence is required, and a anecdotes are not going to cut it.

@Lauren - except Jess is dead, didn't work for her, did it?

@Laura "I hope you have an edible hat"

LOL. Ok, chomp chomp. My point is, they have lied and dissembled all along, and likely are still doing so. Given what she reported in December - that she had been bedridden and bleeding from the armpit for most of 2014 - it is highly unlikely that she "passed peacefully." Her family continues to do wrong by her followers, who enriched her greatly (and now enrich her family, presumably), by denying that she went through incredible horrors. She did not "thrive" with cancer for seven years; she did as well as she did because her cancer was an indolent, slow-growing cancer that followed exactly the course her doctors predicted it would follow if untreated. So it very unlikely that she then "passed peacefully." They need to get honest about the fact that Gerson therapy did. not. work. at. all. - so that anyone who is still doing it because they were emulating Jess, understands that it's time to get to an oncologist, because you're not going to just "thrive" and then some day suddenly "pass peacefully."

@Travis, I'm realizing most of them are reading nothing but the blog post.

In this type of arena, it is really like reading the headline of an article and not bothering to read the article itself.

Yeah, I sometimes debate whether to approve a new comment that's basically the same as other comments calling me a heartless, arrogant monster for writing about this, but I think it's useful for people to see them.

Orca, listen up i want yuo to LISTEN TO ME.

I am a COMPASSIONATE, oORGANIC HUMAN BEING, WITH A SOUL CAPABLE OF EMOTION AND LOVE, I FEEL FOR THIS POOR WOMAN!!! Now ask yourself. WHAT ARE YOU? You kno the answer i know you know it! or maybe you don't, oh thats right you would ned aSOUL to know, A HUMAN SOUL CAPABLE OF EMOTION, that you so CLEARLY LACK.

Wyhy, How, could you make such a horrid, cruel post on your horrid narsicistic blog, CONDEMNING THIS BEAUTIFU YOUNG WOMAN who had been living a HEALTHY LIFE!!!! You are corrupted scum. You are a PAID SHILL WHI POISONS PEOPLE FOR MONEY and SLASHES, and BURNS until ones vital life force is so miserably depleted, AND YOU DONT CARE!!! Oh, and you would RANT on about how there is no life force, YOU ARE IN DENIAL, THE UNIVERSE ENDOWS EACH AND EVERY LIVING THING WITH THE MOST PRECIOIUS OF ENERGIES, BUT YOU ARE BLIND! You have been paid off so much, that it has effectively REMOVED and DEACTIVATED your soul. As mush as i can bear to say so , I FEEL FOR YOU! I hope you can see the light and cast aside your close minded materialistic ways to see the TRUE BEAUTY of human existence without a compulsion to put every human being on forced radiation treatments and BIG PHARMA manufactured synthetc chemicals. I hope you can see the error of your ways! and heal your true soul!

AND I KNOW YOU WILL CENSOR THIS SO WHY DO I EVEN BOTHER TYPING, You will just delete it like the close minded thug you are. I am most likely wasting my time... but i HOPE that you can have a spark of inspiration, and allow the public to see the TRUTH I bring.

See what I mean?

Of course, I do love approving comments by people like this who so loudly predict that I won't approve their comments. :-)

@Travis, I’m realizing most of them are reading nothing but the blog post.

In this type of arena, it is really like reading the headline of an article and not bothering to read the article itself.

I am not even convinced they are reading the article itself, which is critical, but hardly an angry, mean diatribe. Some might actually read it, but considering the large number of comments, and the very few that actually address anything specific, I suspect many are just following a link someone posted.

I like when they call you Orca. It makes me picture you as Shamu with a stethoscope lol

And know that they should be angry about it, that it is very insensitive and horrible.

@Travis, possible, but even a few that have shown they have read it or comments and responded, have shown they don't comprehend written word very well.

I wish I was a computer screen spittle remover in Australia about now--I'd make a fortune!

Travis, I was thinking about this all day reading the never-ending comments from the WW cult. Their comments remind me of the days when there were lots of scientologists who were sent to post comments on anti-scientology articles and blogs, kind of like Dachel's flying monkeys who are dispatched to post anti-vaccine comments.

The scientologists, of course, were not actually allowed to read the articles or posts or other comments in case they were "enturbulated" so you ended up with a slew of generic, meaningless comments like "How dare you write this..." or "You're obviously ignorant..." or "This is bigotry..." or "Scientology is the fastest growing religion (sic) in the world..."

These WW fans just don't get it and never will. And I thought the Burzynski fans and reiki salespeople were brainwashed and relentless.

By Woo Fighter (not verified) on 28 Feb 2015 #permalink

Yeah, I sometimes debate whether to approve a new comment that’s basically the same as other comments calling me a heartless, arrogant monster for writing about this, but I think it’s useful for people to see them.

I definitely think it is a fine policy, approve away. I just wish they were of better quality. It would be a bit more interesting, and it is hard to find motivation to reply to yet another similar comment that was addressed hundreds of comments before.

Of course, I do love approving comments by people like this who so loudly predict that I won’t approve their comments. :-)

It immediately makes it clear they have no knowledge of this place. Plenty of preconceived notions though. That comment was a doozy, at first I thought it was supposed to be satirical because it was so ridiculous, and contained so much strange capitalization.

@Kelly and Travis

I think their comprehension is a bit clouded by emotion and they interpret the information here as more harsh/opinionated than objective/logical/critical. It has been said before but I'll say it again, Jess and her mothers deaths are very sad. Even more so that there were options available to them that could have inproved their circumstances but chose not to take them on board, instead maintaining a narrow and restrictive, expensive and unproven therapy called Gersons. That Jess then promoted herself and the Gersons therapy so disingenuously and perpetuated half truths influencing tens of thousands of vulnerable people desperate for a cancer cure, is nothing to be proud of. This is the right time to mourn and the right time to remember and fully appreciate the impact Jess had in this world. Maybe THAT will be her legacy, which may end up saving someones life who previously bought into the story she told.

I'm still looking for the "truth" he brought that Orac had a "spark of inspiration" and allowed us to see. I saw zero truth. :shrug

These WW fans just don’t get it and never will. And I thought the Burzynski fans and reiki salespeople were brainwashed and relentless.

Hopefully some may, someday. But sadly probably not many. When I was younger, quite young really, I was very much into the supernatural, UFOs, auras, cryptozoology, and well, everything silly that you can think of. But in reading about those topics I eventually stumbled onto books by Carl Sagan, and devoured them, eventually changing quite a bit. The problem is, to break out of this type of thinking, they need to be willing to expose themselves to these ideas, and honestly tackle the issues raised. Pretty sure most people are not going to do that.

Orac: "See what I mean?"

LOXON, you made me giggle.

Which is a terrible horrible thing to do when this thread is about a beautiful young woman who died painfully too soon, after several years of making money by promoting the same protocols that accelerated her demise.

@A, Sadly yesterday I saw a woman say her husband was more inspired than ever to continue with his juicing and coffee enemas to heal his melanoma. He was doing it in honor of Jess.

I could tell her death was a total shock to this woman, they had been involved with Jess and never saw it coming. Right now, they are more determined to continue.

Hopefully that man will wake up and also it isn't too late.

And what’s to stop us? The fact that MOST PEOPLE don’t even know there IS an alternative, because Big Pharma ads take over the show.

Alternative medicine is not exactly a secret.

Gerson therapy, in particular, has been around forever and is very widely known. I first heard of it when I was an adolescent. And that was forty years ago.

It's had plenty of time to establish a track record. Is my point.

I mean, if there were a lot of survivors, don't you think that by now one of them would have let the world know about it? Started a blog? Shared the news on Facebook?

Think about it for a moment.