Part TWO | Sickness in the Wellness Industry | Wellness Inc a time for Truth-Telling and Common Sense | Grace Gawler

If you had told me 30-40 years ago I would be spending most of my working life shepherding cancer patients back into mainstream medicine; I would have thought it a ludicrous idea. But – this is what I do. The movement that I was a part of from the 1970’s forward was inclusive of conventional medicine. It was about improving lifestyle, good nutrition, stress reduction and how to develop strategies that work whilst you had mainstream medical treatments. The work then was a value add to to the best conventional medicine available.

 Part Two: In this Easter edition of The Australian Weekend  Magazine, (available online by subscription or in the Magazine) Richard Guilliatt in his article Wellness Inc. takes us on a journey of reality into the current day wellness industry. You can also try the following link to read this story.

Investigative journalist Richard Guilliatt writes for the Australian Weekend Magazine - Wellness Inc
Investigative journalist Richard Guilliatt writes for the Australian Weekend Magazine – Wellness Inc

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/life/weekend-australian-magazine/belle-gibson-amanda-rootsey-jess-ainscough-and-others-fight-cancer-with-wellness/story-e6frg8h6-1227288347595

The Wellness Industry is laced with promises and certainty; New Age philosophies and platitudes. Which sounds lovely, but it is not a replacement for conventional medicine. Many young cancer entrepreneurs are following the premise popularized in the last decades–that the mind can change everything. Try focusing on a mole on your body for a day , week month or year and see what influence the mind can have? Let me know if it goes away because you asked it to!  You can change anything with your mind is a dangerous premise that has winded its way in the wellness movement. I have had patients who have believed implicitly in the power of the Course in Miracles and studied it intensely as the only treatment for breast cancer. Unfortunately like most patients who neglect medical treatment, they died due to painful, fungating tumours.

Then, there are young women who have had cancer and who claim to have had cancer.  One such newsworthy young woman Belle Gibson; who claimed to have had many cancers, when exposed now says she was misdiagnosed. In a strange way Belle has helped to lift the lid on the wellness industry that she desperately wanted to be a part of and is responsible for breaking the bubble of deception that cloaks the wellness movement.  All is not as it seems. The Wellness Industry is ill and for our physical and psychological wellbeing – we need to take a long hard look at the remedies.

If you had told me 30-40 years ago I would be spending most of my working life shepherding cancer patients back into mainstream medicine; I would have thought it a ludicrous idea. But – this is what I do. The movement that I was a part of from the 1970’s forward was inclusive of conventional medicine. It was about improving lifestyle, good nutrition, stress reduction and how to develop strategies that work  whilst you had mainstream medical treatments. The work then was a value add to to the best conventional medicine available.

Over the years the concept changed; influenced by idealism – not fact. Cancer patients were becoming vegan, raw vegan and juicing and green smoothies became fashionable, positive thinking, meditation, colonics and enemas were all geared at effecting the perfect remission from cancer as well as promises of “awesome wellness”.  Just when you think you have heard it all – “people are going bananas – literally!

Yes – you read correctly, people have started eating just one fruit, the return of the mono diet eg Freelee the Banana Girl http://abc.net.au/news/6360232 and then the banana runner who claims her diet and lifestyle influenced her cancer : Her book “Raw Can Cure Cancer” is a claim that must be substantiated along with her reported cancer-related medical history. If you feel tempted to try any of the whacky fad internet/book diets – Please take a look at the following site first – testimonials from folk who tried the whacky diets with dire consequences:   http://www.beyondveg.com/

Back to Richard Guilliatt’s article where he talks of young “life” coaches, meditation teachers and health and wellness bloggers within the Wellness mix. A harmless business? Far from it.

Keep your Fraud-o-meter active and Alert!
Keep your Fraud-o-meter active and Alert!

There are many more out there that would fit the bill for inclusion into Guilliatt’s news piece and no doubt there will be more revelations to come. Far from harmless; these sweet faced ill informed young women I’m sure, or at least I hope, have no idea of the influence and impact they are having on the lives of cancer patients. Their blogs tell similar stories; their cancer cure lifestyle changes sound so easy, so right and so non toxic; after all how can vitamins, attitudinal healing or a green smoothie harm anyone?

We live in times when anyone can make themselves famous without having earned their stripes, studied or even had a life long enough to be qualified to advise people what they should do with their lives.

If you are following or encouraging someone else to follow their unqualified information and lifestyle advice you will likely exacerbate illness. Their influence may even contribute to your death or the death of a loved one. If this occurs – will the blogger or author take responsibility for their poor advice? If this were your wife or husband or child or sibling – how would you feel? Cancer is complex. Conventional medicine doesn’t have all the answers either – but early diagnosis and early treatment by conventional medicine clearly leads to life extension across many cancers. This I know having seen tens of thousands of cancer patients in my 40 year career who recovered from cancer following the middle-path approach. Holistic medicine in order to be ‘whole’ must be inclusive of Conventional Medicine.

We Pied-Piper-of-Hamelinare now seeing hundreds of Wellness “Cancer-cure” bloggers who can appear to have knowledge merely because they have had or still have cancer. Walking experiments themselves, they advise with surety gathering followers along the path like in the fairytale – The Pied Piper of Hamelin

 Richard Guilliatt poses the question – What do these people have in common – they are young, new age, savvy with the internet and social media and they are a  part of dangerous sisterhood peddling unqualified natural living and “cure cancer” philosophies to the online masses.

The message is clear for anyone dealing with cancer – Buyer beware! Be careful from whom you are taking advice. Where cancer is concerned – never compromise on qualified advice.

A more senior element quoted by Gulliatt, an elder of TV fame who has influenced many cancer patients to take the road to healing Cancer with the now illegal Black Salve – Tony Barry is one of those all Australian ‘larger than life’ fellows that has appeared on our TV screens for decades. He promotes the use of black salve and although he continues to have melanomas that he treats with Black salve, he is still singing the praises of it’s success as a cancer cure. The fact that he has had a leg amputated due the advancement of his disease seems to pass by as it was written in to the last TV series  screened on ABC TV: The Time of Our Lives. As the character Ray – a car on a wheel jack drops on his leg – and as a part of the show – his leg is damaged and he undergoes an amputation.

As Richard Guilliatt reports, the real story is that a fungating tumour (melanoma) the size of a mandarin, burst through the skin on his leg. Surgeon’s accordingly amputated the leg. At that time in 2013, for 6 years the actor had refused surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Is the melanoma being held at bay by applying Black Salve which apparently he still uses? I don’t know what Tony Barry’s brand of melanoma is – but all cancers are different and by nature – some grow slowly.  Superficial spreading melanoma; the most common type can be slow growing.

Superficial spreading melanoma is a form of melanoma in which the malignant cells tend to stay within the tissue of origin, the epidermis, in an ‘in-situ’ phase for a prolonged period (months to decades). At first, superficial spreading melanoma grows horizontally on the skin surface – this is known as the radial growth phase. The lesion presents as a slowly-enlarging flat area of discoloured skin.

An unknown proportion of superficial spreading melanoma become invasive, i.e. the melanoma cells cross the basement membrane of the epidermis and malignant cells enter the dermis. A rapidly-growing nodular melanoma can arise within superficial spreading melanoma and start to proliferate more deeply within the skin.   SOURCE: http://www.dermnetnz.org/lesions/ssm.html

bullshitLike Jess Ainscough (Wellness Warrior) whose slow growing epitheloid sarcoma progressed at the expected rate – so too melanoma’s follow a similar pattern. I have been to too many “Black Salve” funerals – including naturopathic practitioners, naturopathic teachers and integrative doctors who succumbed to its undelivered promises.

I have always liked Tony Barry as an actor. People with such a public persona have a big influence on society. His position as narrator in the DVD One answer to Cancer has influenced perhaps millions of people to use Black salve on cancers. Some may be benign whilst others have the potential to spread into the lower layers of skin and through the lymphatics. In the public interest questions must be asked about the efficacy of this treatment (developed would you believe out out an early Medical technique – Moh’s chemosurgery!!)

It was disappointing and to me rather obnoxious; that when questioned about Black salve Tony Barry’s response was that his survival shows that the “cancer industry” doesn’t have all the answers. “People need to take control of their lives” he says “Because if you put it in the hands of these buggers  ( meaning the medical profession); their model isn’t based on wellness – it’s based on sickness.”

With regard to Tony Barry, Jess Ainscough and others – If people wish to experiment on themselves – well it is their right even if misinformed. But when they peddle their “cures’ to the masses while still a  walking experiment themselves –  that I have a problem.

When the surgeon who amputated Tony Barry’s leg below the knee read the Weekend Australian Magazine, he must have sat down shaking his head in disgust! Another doctor whom I know who featured in the DVD One Answer to Cancer lost his life to a brain tumour refusing conventional treatment with a belief that natural medicine would cure him. One answer to cancer doesn’t seem to have the answers to cancer.

Resources:

Read about the real origins of Black Salve  here on this blog site:

http://gracegawlermedia.com/2014/04/12/black-salveholistic-or-hole-istic-naturopathic-medicine-was-never-meant-to-do-this-grace-gawler/

https://www.tga.gov.au/community-qa/black-salve-red-salve-and-cansema

Weekend Australian:

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/life/weekend-australian-magazine/belle-gibson-amanda-rootsey-jess-ainscough-and-others-fight-cancer-with-wellness/story-e6frg8h6-1227288347595

Sickness in the Wellness Industry | a time for Truth-Telling and Common Sense | Grace Gawler

So – where are we at as cancer myth after cancer myth is dismantled and shattered. As Phillip Adams points out in his interview with the Australian newspaper’s Richard Guilliatt last Thursday night on Radio National “Late night Live”; the Wellness industry is well overdue for a makeover. Watch for Richard Guilliatt’s article in today’s weekend Australian newspaper magazine….” Wellness Inc”.

Part ONE: At the beginning of the wellness industry birthed during the 1970’s, one could not have foreseen the journey that lay ahead. Born during the freedom movement alongside the emerging hippie culture; the wellness movement had all the potentials to supersede the medical culture of the time that appeared to be struggling in one particular area – cancer treatment. At that time chemotherapy was crude as was radiation and surgery when compared to today’s medicine.

Me on my wedding day February 1976 when Ian Gawler was given 6 weeks life expectancy.
Me on my wedding day February 1976 when Ian Gawler was given a 6 week prognosis after Gerson diet and intensive meditation failed to impact his illness. TB or Cancer?

Diagnostic equipment was also basic; in particular those affected by cancer were looking for a new way forward. Others who had no apparent mainstream medical treatment options during the 1970’s, were willing to try whatever might help.   As mentioned by Richard Guilliatt in his interview with Phillip Adams; the history of Ian Gawler’s disease and highly likely misdiagnosis of secondary cancer, has been crucial to the birthing of the Wellness Movement both in the 70’s and today in 2015.

Listen now to the interview – live streaming on Radio National:

http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/latenightlive/the-wellness-industry/6367962

As we know, history and details often become confused as time goes by. At the end of 1975 Ian Gawler and myself were in a situation where there was no treatment on offer for him. Having had his left leg amputated a year prior in Jan 1974; what was thought to be development of a secondary cancer in November 1975; was not thoroughly investigated.  If the new bony lump in his groin was a metastasis of the original osteogenic sarcoma then according to his doctors, medical treatment was futile apart from some radiation therapy. The path and behaviour of this bony lump and other lumps that were to follow; with retrospective knowledge; were atypical of metastatic osteogenic sarcoma. The mere fact of his recovery should have demanded rigorous investigation and research when his “remission” was declared – but it did not! The story grew and morphed and has even been misreported in credible medical Journals.

The story of the man who cured himself of metastatic osteogenic sarcoma became famous worldwide – the story was largely anecdotal, complex and difficult to track over the years – this is how myth and folklore is born and how others are influenced to follow.

Here is what happened on The Gerson Diet & intensive meditation 1975-76:

After 3 months on the Gerson Therapy concurrent with intensive meditation sessions with the late Ainslie Meares; there was massive deterioration in Ian’s condition.

The Gerson Diet caused massive weight loss aided by horrendous night sweats and then immobility due to pain from nerve compression in the spinal column (caused by the rapid weight loss). Clearly, two of the mainstays diet and meditation that have been promoted as pivotal in “curing” Ian’s cancer; failed at the critical time when a solution was needed the most!  Yet somehow, the new breed of young 2015 Cancer Warriors and social media/internet entrepreneurs were under a misapprehension regarding the actual events of Ian Gawler’s recovery that took place between November 1975 and June 1978. Many have since built both lucrative businesses whilst jeopardizing their lives – based on incorrect information. The late Jess Aincough (Wellness Warrior) was quoted as saying at the Gawler Foundation’s Survivors Conference “If Ian Gawler did it – then I can do it too”. DOWNLOAD  JESS ainscough Gawler healthtalks

Gerson’s therapy appeared to have some scientific Basis – however in later years I read some of the early Gerson Material – A summary is included here: The claims for Cure being quite different that what is commonly thought of Max Gerson’s Diet and Research: pdf link included below

original MAX GERSON DIET SUMMARY gawler

So – where are we at as cancer myth after cancer myth is dismantled and shattered. As Phillip Adams points out in his interview with the Australian newspaper’s Richard Guilliatt last Thursday night on  Radio National “Late night Live”; the Wellness industry is well overdue for a makeover. Watch for Richard Guilliatt’s article in today’s weekend Australian newspaper magazine….” Wellness Inc”.

To listen to the interview select the audio file below.

OR go to the page at Radio National:

http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/latenightlive/the-wellness-industry/6367962

DOWNLOAD ORIGINAL MAX GERSON RESEARCH INFO Gerson JOURNAL DietaryConsiderations

If Ian Gawler did it then I can do it too | The Painful Unraveling of False Cancer Cure Claims

“If Ian Gawler did it, then I can do it too” is a worrying phrase; yet it is almost an expected mantra from patients who pursue the alternate cancer path or who have read You Can Conquer Cancer and consider taking the same approach.

Part 1:  “If Ian Gawler did it, then I can do it too” is a worrying phrase; yet it is almost an expected mantra from patients who pursue the alternate cancer path or who have read You Can Conquer Cancer and consider taking the same approach.

As someone who was personally involved in the Gawler recovery story from the very beginning; I consider I have a Duty of Care to patients and the community at large to keep on telling the story in context and correct the many errors and omissions made over the years in reporting it; even in medical journals! Being an advocate for patient rights and speaking the truth has come at great personal cost. It is also unfortunate that the young people who have been swayed by the natural cancer cure meme have paid a greater cost – they have paid with their lives.

The Ian Gawler cancer remission phenomenon is very much related to what has been happening in the Cancer “cure” news since my last blog on Survivorship where I discussed Jess Ainscough – alias The Wellness Warrior who recently died from her advanced cancer. A passionate follower of the modern Gerson Diet regimen – Jess was perhaps too young and easily influenced in her choices by elders in the “cancer movement” who should have known better. The best advice would be if you want to follow the Gerson Diet, do it in combination with the best medical treatment you can find!

Just as quickly as Social media viraling took patients like Jess to Facebook/internet fame – the materials and links associated with her Gerson diet cancer cure, have disappeared at the same light speed. I have just tried to download links to the following at: http://iangawler.com/youtube.html “A young person’s perspective- Interview with Ian Gawler by Jess Ainscough – Wellness Warrior: Jess chats on Skype with Ian informally about his experience with recovery and what was most important.” But – it has been taken down. The same of http://www.jessainscough.com/2013/03/healthtalks-speaking-at-ian-gawlers-surviving-cancer-event/ To read the actual PDF that has been removed: Select the following: JESS ainscough Gawler healthtalks

As you will read further in this blog, the same is happening with Belle Gibson Whole Pantry developer who claims she has had various cancers and, as a fundraiser, was supposed to donate large funds from her work to charity. Now the media has investigated her cancer claims – most of Belle Gibson’s 2010 – 2012 blogs are no longer available and a more in depth investigation is now underway.

Lantern Publishing stated that they published Belle Gibson’s recipe book in good faith without fact checking. For your interest, our own Grace Gawler Institute research into authors of natural cancer cure claims resulted in NOT ONE author who was able to substantiate their claims that they actually had cancer- although their books are written on how they recovered from it.  Astoundingly, no one could produce medical proof of diagnosis. There were a few others who claimed they had a natural cancer cure – but when there cases were examined  they had received medical treatments that they discounted as being helpful.

Maybe the dawn of ethics is upon us as we uncover the hidden truths about these people. Just check out the Lance Armstrong story to get a handle on that! Before publishing or promoting “stories” the media and book publishers surely have a duty to ensure that the “True Stories” they are publishing are indeed “true”.

Personally, despite the hype; in 40 years I have not seen the Gerson diet benefit cancer patients nor have I seen it create the remissions that are talked about and promoted. From personal experience; the Regimen is far too rigid and contains too many juices – I mean really; think about it –  is it natural to consume up to 9kg of vegetables in one day – juiced or otherwise?

Here is a brief summary of the story:
Early in Ian Gawler’s cancer diagnosis when it seemed that hope for his survival was exhausted; both he and I travelled the Gerson Diet path. I need to be clear that we did so because there was NO medical treatment on offer, so it wasn’t as if we had to choose one or the other……there was no other to choose from. It concerns me greatly that today cancer patients choose the Gerson Diet  INSTEAD of scientifically-based medicine.

My experience of The Gerson diet is best described in my Memoir Grace Grit and Gratitude: Contact me via the contact page and I will send you 2 free chapter downloads on this topic. We put a lot of effort into the Gerson Diet but Ian had a poor result. As Ian’s sole carer/girlfriend, at 21 years of age, it became my responsibility to organise the food and juices for him as he was too ill. It was the most stressful period of my life!

You can conquer cancer new edition
Me – Grace Gawler – disappointed with the new edition of You Can Conquer Cancer

As we progressed with the Gerson Diet and intensive Meditation that he practised according to the Meares method; his deterioration accelerated. He became bedridden. His weight peeled off day after day.  He experienced colic and severe pain with his condition deteriorating to such an extent that he was given a prognosis of 6 weeks. However, was his massive weight loss associated with his cancer? No: in reality it was a result of the Gerson Diet. We ceased the diet and over the coming months he gained weight although unknown to us at the time; he was carrying perhaps a far more silent and lethal killer than bone cancer; a condition that was to remain undiagnosed for the next 2.5 years!

To complicate things even further throughout the time of the Gerson Diet; there were other symptoms that were unaccounted for; massive night sweats, a productive cough and back pain, hydronephrosis; symptoms that were not medically related to Ian’s bone cancer. The fact is that Ian’s bone cancer diagnosis in 1975, proven by biopsy is likely unrelated to the development of the calcified masses in his groin, lung and on his chest that at the time were thought to be metastatic cancer.

Turn the clock forward to 2010, when two oncologists read my Correction of errors letter published in the MJA (Medical Journal of Australia). Once they knew there had been no biopsy for what was thought to be secondary cancer; the real diagnosis came to light. Amidst threats and controversy they eventually published their significant findings in the IMJ HAINES AND LOWENTHAL (2). What were the bony masses? They were calcified abscesses from Tuberculosis. The original TB remained undiagnosed for some time. The calcified abscesses were eventually dissolved by the body and the TB moved into his bones where it was diagnosed in 1978 and treated with conventional medicine.

I refer you to “Ian Gawler Cancer?” on the menu of this blog.

What really concerns me; I meet a lot a patients like Jess Ainscough who come to my practice with  the most horrendous of cancer conditions – mostly with weeping and  fungating tumours but also people ravaged by advanced cancer internally who have followed Gerson or similar to the exclusion of medical treatment.  Often they find me because of my “Gawler” name which I have kept intentionally to help put right the misconceptions about Ian Gawler’s recovery story. Because like Jess Ainscough they too believed they would be cured. They inevitably all say: “If Ian Gawler did it, then I can do it too!”

Moving on from Jess – yet another cancer entrepreneur hits the spotlight today and yesterday: Today’s Australian newspaper has a front page article about Belle Gibson titled: “Mega-Blogger casts doubt on Cancer Claim” by Richard Guilliatt: “A MELBOURNE social media entrepreneur Belle Gibson, whose story of miraculous survival from terminal cancer helped launch a global “health and wellness” business, has admitted that her claim of suffering multiple life-threatening cancers may be false”.

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/mega-blogger-belle-gibson-casts-doubt-on-her-own-cancer-claims/story-e6frg8zx-1227255933051

And…..Yesterday’s Sydney Morning Herald also had an article – but the emphasis was different with funds to Charities not delivered by Bell Gibson:

http://www.smh.com.au/digital-life/digital-life-news/charity-money-promised-by-inspirational-health-app-developer-belle-gibson-not-handed-over-20150308-13xgqk.html

In recent times social media has played a pivotal role in the promotion of non proven cancer “cure” cases. It has become a breeding ground for spreading false stories and raising funds. It makes it challenging for genuine people seeking funding for cancer treatment. How does one separate the wheat from the chaff?  You need to use critical thinking skills and ask trusted sources. You might not always like what you hear. It’s hard to believe that people cheat, lie, fabricate, self delude, deceive through omission etc when it comes to cancer – but they do and it is not new! They used to be called Snake oil salesmen and saleswomen.

The recent exposure of deception and fraud in natural cancer medicine serves an important community lesson – buyer Beware!

Other Links of Interest:

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/health-science/first-wife-disputes-cancer-guru-ian-gawlers-survival-story/story-e6frg8y6-1225935666765

http://www.smh.com.au/national/health/too-good-to-be-true-20120420-1xcgn.html

http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/opinion/opinion-advocates-of-alternative-therapies-are-gambling-with-patients-lives/story-fnihsr9v-1227252912780

Take care and be safe with your one precious life!

Grace

Grace Gawler Learning the Art of Survivorship | How to Navigate the Cancer Maze

The cancer journey begins with one step – diagnosis. Learn how to walk the path to Survivorship. Remember that there is no substitute for early diagnosis and intervention in Survivorship. The aim of today’s Navigating the Cancer Maze internet radio show is to help you find a path through the cancer maze by learning how to become an exceptional patient with the possibility of living through and beyond cancer.

The cancer journey begins with one step – diagnosis. Learn how to walk the path to Survivorship. Remember that there is no substitute for early diagnosis and intervention in Survivorship. The aim of today’s Navigating the Cancer Maze internet radio show is to help you find a path through the cancer maze by learning how to become an exceptional patient with the possibility of living through and beyond cancer. Like many of life’s major crisis events; cancer is a daunting prosjourney of a thousand miles begins with one small steppect. In order to survive and thrive; a cancer diagnosis requires you to learn & develop a new skill set; a new way of prioritizing self, time to deal with the trauma of diagnosis and what it might mean for you in terms of accepting change, being adaptable and flexible. Decisions can feel overwhelming because your life depends upon those decisions & the consequences of making them.
There is an immediate need to focus, plan, question, set goals, prepare for setbacks etc.

Whether or not you are first time cancer patient or dealing with a second or third recurrence, if you have been battling on your own – there can still be much to learn.

Find an experienced cancer navigator to help you along the way.

Be effectively  case managed and take the extra stress out of cancer.

FREE chapter download: As mentioned on today Navigating the Cancer Maze.
The Three Essential Stages of healing:  Select URL below for PDF
Insights of a Survivor who has known Survivors as mentioned on today Navigating the Cancer Maze internet radio.

Defining Survivorship
Surviving cancer or “survivorship” can be defined in different ways. Two common definitions include:
• Being disease-free after the completion of treatment,
• Living with, through, and beyond cancer includes people who continue to have treatments to either reduce risk of recurrence or to manage chronic disease. By this definition, cancer Survivorship begins at diagnosis and survivorship is a state that continues throughout your life.
• Bernie Siegel described this group as EXCEPTIONAL Cancer Patients.

Because we are talking about the precious lives of cancer patients – as a part of today’s subject, I hasten to add here that it is important for those interested in surviving cancer that I discuss where NOT to put your energy if you want to be a survivor. Yes modern medicine is not perfect – but it is the best we have and it it is improving all the time.

If you are seeking Survivorship through and beyond cancer – please use every means possible from the best that conventional medicine has to offer in combination with the best of scientific complementary medicine and complementary therapies.

baby-bathwaterPlease “Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater”! Conventional medicine is a gift. Cancer is tricky – you can’t outsmart it with juices, meditation and positive thinking. How “you be” with a cancer diagnosis – i.e. – your attitude, strategies, will to live and will to heal – contribute tremendously – but you need to partner with the best that conventional medicine has to offer. If cancer patients understood the scientific basis of cancer – how it behaves and operates for it’s own survival; different choices might be made- conquering cancer is not that simple!

 I must mention Jess Ainscough here because of the influence she has had on cancer patients young and old in terms of promoting one type of Survivorship approach. Surviving through and beyond cancer is not the simple 123 steps that entrepreneurs such as Jess promoted.

Cancer entrepreneurs like Jessica Ainscough AKA The Wellness Warrior has influenced thousands, maybe millions to take the alternative path to cancer healing. Sadly it all went wrong for her mother who had breast cancer. She died last year. Jess remained struggling with advancing fungating cancer until this week when she died from her epitheloid sarcoma. Sadly I see patients like Jess every week. I conduct an Alt med cancer rescue practice with my Specialist GP colleague Dr Whelan. We see so many scales-of-justicepatients influenced to take the natural path to cancer recovery – influenced by Dr Google and the plethora of misleading books by cancer entrepreneurs.

Jess became a crusader for the Gerson diet and might I add, was also influenced by my ex-husbands ‘cancer recovery’ story. During the past few years his story has been challenged by myself and more recently; by two Melbourne oncologists who published their findings in the internal Medicine Journal. Once they discovered there was no biopsy performed for Ian’s condition at the time which was thought to be secondary bone cancer they began an independent investigation into why he recovered. In 1978, here was no other explanation offered and to all and sundry it appeared as though the impossible had been achieved – a full remission from metastatic osteogenic sarcoma. However with a thorough review and missing pieces of the Gawler healing puzzle put in place – a new diagnosis was suggested.  IMJ HAINES AND LOWENTHAL

Jess Ainscough’s approach to her cancer was clearly influenced by Ian Gawler’s recovery, the diagnosis which was highly likely to have been advanced TB with calcified abscesses – not metastatic bone cancer as had been reported over the decades. (see the menu for more on this subject).

The late Jess Ainscough wellness warrior gawler gerson
The late Jess Ainscough wellness warrior

 Importantly –  If that is so – then the basic premise and promise upon which Jess Aincough based her recovery from cancer plan was false. Jess was quoted as saying: ” Ian Gawler was diagnosed with bone cancer and had his right leg was amputated in 1975. However, the disease recurred later that year and began ravaging his body. Ian’s story of recovery, employing an integrated approach driven predominantly by dedicated meditation, is truly remarkable. It was my anchor to a future the doctors had pretty much ruled me out of having. I thought, If Ian can do it, so can I. His book, You Can Conquer Cancer, was my Bible”. Source:  JESS ainscough Gawler healthtalks;

Clearly patients like Jess are looking for options and they will often choose the seemingly softer options that the one size fits all alternative approach offers. Cancer education is imperative and sadly lacking in the patient world. Cancer is not a generic disease that can be simplistically tackled with food and copious juices. I think this is a very sad indictment of what true Survivorship is really all about. Like many of the patients I see in my practice, Jess Ainscough only embraced conventional medicine when the path she had followed failed her.
It is my hope that Jess Ainscough’s story and life serves as a teaching story for all who want to walk the path to cancer Survivorship – please use critical thinking to assess information on the internet and consider a best of both worlds approach for best outcome.

More on Wellness Warrior: ORAC ( Oncology surgeon) – Science based Medicine Below:
http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2014/12/16/jess-ainscough-finally-admits-her-condition-is-deteriorating/

http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2013/10/17/sharyn-ainscough-dies-tragically-because-she-followed-the-example-of-her-daughter-the-wellness-warrior/#comment-297256

http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2015/02/27/the-wellness-warrior-jess-ainscough-has-passed-away/

The following Survivorship links will be helpful:

 http://www.cancerbridges.ca/

http://www.amazon.com/Survivorship-Living-During-After-Cancer/dp/1938170350

SURVIVOR TRAINING COURSE: Queensland

http://www.gracegawlerinstitute.com/survivor-training/

Listen to Navigating the Cancer Maze – Today’s show.
http://www.voiceamerica.com/episode/83721/learning-the-art-of-survivorship-how-to-navigate-the-cancer-maze

Until next time – Be safe in your choices – cancer is a tough opponent- choose your course wisely!

Grace

To Meditate or Medicate – That is the Question? Voice America Experience with Meditation and Cancer Recovery

Can meditation be powerful enough to impact chronic illness? Is there any conclusive evidence that the mind via meditative practices can “cure” or influence the growth of cancer”? With rising healthcare costs more and more people are turning to self-help books and natural methods in an attempt to ‘cure’ cancer.

PART ONE : Can meditation be powerful enough to impact chronic illness? Is there any conclusive evidence that the mind via meditative practices can “cure” or influence the growth of cancer”? With rising healthcare costs more and more people are turning to self-help books and natural methods in an attempt to ‘cure’ cancer. ‘The mind can cure cancer concept’ is not new. Every few decades, the notion of meditation as a ‘cure’ for cancer, seems to be recycled into public awareness. In today’s show, with 40 years experience, I will share personal insights from clinical practice & discuss the historical timeline of meditative practices and cancer. I also discuss in general terms, the realistic impact of meditative practices on health and wellbeing and help to put into perspective; it’s role in healing.
Listmeditationen free to air or download from iTunes:

http://www.voiceamerica.com/episode/78194/to-meditate-or-medicate-that-is-the-question-experiences-with-meditation-and-cancer-recovery

Background:

As I researched the latest finding on what meditation can and cant do; the aspects that stood out are as follows:

1. When we look at stories of ‘cures’ associated with Meditation or other event such as prayer healing  etc – There are many anecdotes where blind faith comes into play. Over centuries people have had a need to believe in a greater force that gives us faith and hope to go on and to make sense of life. When we examine these stories we often have no idea of their true origin. Was someone mistaken when they diagnosed a cancer? Beliefs run strong, as do people’s ideologies and need to see & believe in miracles; it is difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff. Just because something is written or appears to be so – doesn’t mean it is fact.

A humorous story illustrates how easy it is to base an opinion on incomplete facts. John Locke (1632-1704) related this story about the Dutch ambassador and the king of Siam: While describing his country, Holland, to the king, the ambassador mentioned that at times it was possible for an elephant to walk on water. The king rejected the idea and felt that the ambassador was lying to him. However, the ambassador was merely describing something that was beyond the king’s personal experience. The king did not realize that when water freezes and becomes ice, it can support the weight of an elephant. This seemed impossible to the king because he did not have all the facts.

The issue with meditation in terms of health value  is that it has been promoted in some literature and journals to be a cure or a significant part of a cure for cancer.  A wide range of meditative practises clearly can assist cancer patients or those with serious illness – helping with improving life quality and awareness contemplation as life itself is challenged – that is by a diagnosis of a serious illness. However, Claims of cancer being cured by meditation alone are often misguided or misreported.  Look for the science. Was there proof by biopsy? Has the whole story been reported? Could there be other logical reasons for a recovery? This is important as for example, cancer patients quote again and again … “If Ian Gawler can do it ( cure himself of cancer ) then I can do it too”. More on this in next blog.

That brings me to looking at some the facts of how meditation/stress reduction techniques can be proven to impact the miracle of mindfulnesssome of our body’s restorative systems and how it can be simply and practically used everyday by simply being you. See Resources below. I like what Thich Nhat Hanh, author The Miracle of Mindfulness said  about meditation:

“Hanh warns that meditation should not be an escape from reality. On the contrary, it should lead to an increased awareness of reality.

Hanh summarizes the lessons by presenting a story about the three wondrous answers to the questions — What is the best time to do a thing? Who are the most important people to work with? and What is the most important thing to do at all times?


Hanh suggests that we treat each of our activities as an opportunity for being aware: Walking, we should be aware that we are walking. 

Breathing,-we should be aware of our breathing. We should not focus on anything other than the thing that we are doing.  One of the key methods that Hanh presents is learning to be aware of breathing.

Resources to read:

http://www.globalhealthandtravel.com/health/TheBenefitsofDeepBreathing   Value of Breath

http://www.relaxationresponse.org/  Herbert Benson studies and book

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jon_Kabat-Zinn

Thich Nhat Hanh

To Be continued……..More Tomorrow on meditation and cancer with Resources.

Enjoy ……..

Grace

Groundbreaking Immunotherapy Navigating the Cancer Maze Grace Gawler

Discovering intelligent, honest, evidence-based ways to manage and treat cancer in the 21st Century – Although it appears that there is independence and self empowerment in choosing alternative medicine to treat cancer – many patients are playing Russian roulette with their lives using unproven and poorly researched treatments including lifestyle-based treatments that have a one size fits all approach.

Discovering intelligent, honest, evidence-based ways to manage and treat cancer in the 21st Century- This program was late in being uploaded to Voice America – If you missed it – Please listen by selecting the link
http://www.voiceamerica.com/episode/72038/cancer-immunotherapy-ground-breaking-treatment-in-cancer-medicine

Why Science and Research is important as we look for ways of treating Cancer  There is a lot of confusion surrounding cancer cures in the world of alternative cancer medicine. The majority of my patients have used it exclusively and then when tumours have developed often to stage 4; they find their way to Germany looking for a less toxic approach than our standard systems of medicine can offer. At this stage many feel jaded, disappointed that the “natural way’ has let them down and sadly; many of those patients would have significantly extended their lives by being treated with conventional medicine. Instead they are now fighting to preserve their lives.

Although it appears that there is independence and self empowerment in choosing alternative medicine to treat cancer – many patients are playing Russian roulette with their lives using unproven and poorly researched  treatments including lifestyle-based treatments that have a one size fits all approach.

Patient with stage 4 head and neck cancer -2 years after alt med only.
Patient with stage 4 head and neck cancer -2 years after alt med only.

 I see many patients who mirror the famous; such as Steve Jobs and Athena Starwoman yet cancer patients keep on with treatments that cannot be substantiated. Many highly popular treatments cannot be backed up with research and many anecdotal cancer cure stories when examined don’t stack up with the claims. I have seen a lot in my almost 40 years of being involved with Cancer. Have I changed my views since co-creating the Gawler Foundation – Yes and no! Hope, inspiration, a health promoting lifestyle, faith and motivation are all important ingredients – but they need to be balanced with common sense, a discerning approach and smart conventional medicine.

While lifestyle changes assist with Wellbeing – the unwary cancer patient can be swayed into believing that this is connected with cancer cure. The theory sounds good but in practise falls short on delivery! This I know from very personal experience having been a part of a what is now a highly controversial and debatable “Cancer Cure” story.  http://www.smh.com.au/national/cancer-experts-challenge-gawlers-cure-20111230-1pfns.html and IMJ HAINES AND LOWENTHAL

The more I know about cancer at the molecular level – especially since spending the last 2 years learning about CTCs (circulating tumour cells) and  CTSS (Circulating tumour cells with stem cell like qualities) and, add to that the nature and behaviour of cancer – and it’s growth promoting factors …. The path of lifestyle medicine is simplistic at best and outright dangerous at worst if one believes it holds the cure to all cancers. Lifestyle medicine may help with prevention – but even that is now debatable. I urge you to not discount the scientific breakthroughs that are helping cancer patients to more effectively Navigate the Cancer Maze.

If you missed listening to my recent  and long awaited interview with researcher and the developer and creator of trifunctional antibodies Dr Horst Lindhoffer PhD – please select the following link.
http://www.voiceamerica.com/episode/72038/cancer-immunotherapy-ground-breaking-treatment-in-cancer-medicine

This more exacting method of treatment utilises the body’s immune system in a way that has never before been achieved. Immunology in the form of trifunctional antibodies is one of the most innovative and exciting cancer treatment breakthroughs in many years.

Website: www.gracegawlerinstitute.com
www.germancancerteatments.com
www.germancancertreatments.org.uk

Contact: navigatingthecancermaze(at)gmail.com

TB or not TB? A second opinion on Ian Gawler’s cancer ‘cure’

TB or not TB? A second opinion on Ian Gawler’s cancer ‘cure’

Today Tonight segment; Cancer ‘guru’ miracle worker?

It is hard to believe that one year on from http://www.smh.com.au/national/cancer-experts-challenge-gawlers-cure-20111230-1pfns.html that Channel 7’s Today Tonight (TT) recently chose to run a story that yet again smokescreens the actual question of TB or not TB-in other words; a diagnosis of secondary bone cancer or TB?  Writing recently in “The “Conversation”online Prof George Jelinek and Guy Allenby
author of Ian Gawler’s Biography – The Dragon’s Blessing made a creative play on those famous words from Hamlet….To be or not to be with their TB or not TB.

[ ‘The Conversation” is an online independent source of analysis, commentary and news from the university and research sector viewed by 550,000 readers each month.}

I had decided that I was not going to write on this subject on my blog again, however TT and the Conversation both appeared to misrepresent Ian Gawler’s recovery story Haines Lowenthal 2012 IMJand promote the implication yet again “If Ian did it I can do it too” theme. This in combination with TT”s cursory glance at a well written hypothesis by eminent professors of Oncology that lasted but a few seconds, left many wondering what the segment was trying to achieve. Anyway the segment concerned me so deeply that to end 2012 –  I thought it necessary to make what I hope is a final comment on this subject.

To begin with there are two crucial points to address:

  1. TT gave neither professor a right of reply to address their reasons for the hypothesis they published. Rather we see Prof Ian Olver from the Cancer Council making an unrelated comment about the use of alternative medicine!
  • In the TT interview Ian Gawler states: “It is clearly a personal attack on his story and his Integrity.”

If patients could access the 2012 IMJ Haines and Lowenthal Hypothesis – They would find in fact that Professors Haines and Lowenthal approached Ian Gawler and his story in a  somewhat kindly and dignified manner. Certainly not a Spanish Inquisition or a personal attack as has been claimed! It is on the record in fact that Prof Haines politely asked to review Ian Gawler’s case – and as should have happened in such a public health matter, Ian Gawler accepted then withdrew and the matter was in the hands of a litigator. The Hypothesis paper was then forwarded to the Internal Medicine Journal who appropriately believed it to be in the public interest to publish. Surprisingly, there had never been a medical investigation into the reasons why Ian Gawler recovered.

To quote from Haines and Lowenthal’s controversial IMJ Hypothesis:

“In presenting this hypothesis, we emphasise that we are not in any way criticising the patient’s medical attendants who unquestionably acted fully in accordance with the standards of the time. Indeed, the need to consider obtaining histological confirmation of presumed metastatic disease is only now becoming part of standard oncological practice. We note that one of the leading textbooks of oncology states in its latest edition in relation to possible cancer recurrence: ‘Whenever possible, tissue acquisition for diagnostic confirmation . . . should be considered.’

Whatever the correct diagnosis, we acknowledge the courage and determination of the patient that allowed him to recover from a prolonged and very debilitating illness. We especially note the psychological resilience that enabled him to overcome the dire prognosis he was given that fortunately turned out to be inaccurate.

Nonetheless, there is an aphorism, attributed to the late Carl Sagan, that exceptional claims require exceptional evidence. We contend that unequivocal evidence that the patient was cured of widespread metastases is lacking, and that the unusual treatments that were employed in this case cannot be held out as an example of a path to be followed by other patients with metastatic cancer.” Continue reading “TB or not TB? A second opinion on Ian Gawler’s cancer ‘cure’”

Gawler MJA a personal perspective on programs and what were the dates of those famous chest wall photographs?

Gawler evidence and errors highlight the fact that more investigation is needed….

Since 31 December 2011 the Australian public has seen an unprecendented series of quality news articles questioning Ian Gawler’s cancer remission in 1978. Professionals and patients are now asking why it has taken so long to fact-check the most famous cancer recovery story in Australia and perhaps – the world. With new evidence, researchers have now gone beyond anecdotal storyline to a view of the science of what actually occurred in Ian’s case.  A recent MJA article has some sensible dialogue around these important cancer survival issues – although the author psychiatrist Tanya Hall steers clear of the misdiagnosis issue, she discusses an important perspective regarding psychological impact that the Gawler program can have on cancer patients. “Healed or Hungry – a personal perspective on the Gawler program” was published in the MJA last Monday 21 May 2012.

It is a pity that this article is not available to be read outside of MJA subscribers. Tanya Hall tells us that she attended the 12 week support group and a 3 day Ian Gawler meditation program & she read You Can Conquer Cancer.  She eloquently discusses the issues with guilt, the vegan diet, (which Ian never followed) and a litany of issues that the program brought up for her as a doctor and patient. A few of Tanya Hall’s perceptive comments are outlined below :

1. “…. My concern is that in my opinion the Gawler program goes too far, making far reaching suggestions that do not appear supported by evidence….”

2.  “….Of most concern to me was hearing our program leader state that there was no evidence that chemotherapy was effective. This was nothing less than astonishing, patently untrue, and highly disrespectful to those of us undergoing chemotherapy….”

3.  She says of the programs “… In fact while criticism of conventional medicine is noticeable, there is an almost complete lack of critical analysis among participants of Gawler’s methods — which are supported in a quasi-religious fashion. There seemed to be a worrying tendency to unquestioningly quote Gawler as though his words were above scrutiny, and certainly carrying more weight than the views of any number of esteemed oncologists.

3. “….Reading some of the testimonials, it struck me that those participants whose outcomes were poor still wrote positively about the program. It puzzled me as to why this was so; if anything, Gawler’s program seems to me to invite what may be irrational hope and promise far exceeding what most oncologists would offer…”

From its inception in the early 80’s until 1996 when I resigned from the organisation, the Gawler approach mirrored what we had done to help Ian recover. As a co founder, it was sad to see the emphasis and the story change – accelerating after I left. Just to complicate the issue,  new theories suggest there is a high probablity that Ian had TB in December 1975 and not secondary bone cancer. At 21 years of age I was the sole carer/nurse for Ian. He was very ill that is true – but with current knowledge there was certainly not enough tumour load at the time of his major demise Feb-March 1976, to produce the symptoms that he had…..symptoms that were not congruent with osteosarcoma but were very congruent with a diagnosis of TB. (He was treated medically for TB July 1978 for one year).   There was no biopsy to prove secondary cancer so with new information and this – can you believe it – first investigation of this famous remission, we cannot say with any certainty, that it was cancer that almost killed him.

It is I believe no one’s fault – misdiagnoses happen frequently – even in medicine today, but I am left with Carl Sagan’s quote ringing in my own ears – “Exceptional claims require exceptional evidence”. While evidence has been building supporting a paper published in the IMJ (Internal Medicine Journal 2011/12) there have, I am pleased to say, been notable positive changes with doctors and patients questioning Ian’s recovery in an unprecedented manner.

There have been however, some quite bizzare claims and “faceless” cowardly personal email attacks on me since the science of Ian Gawler’s remission has been questioned; this includes a recent Facebook comment by a pro-Ian Gawler supporter,  unfortunately a patient with stage IV breast cancer whose comments were so damaging as to cause legal intervention. Unbelieveable!! The last thing anyone wants! It seems emotions are running high in the face of facts and science.

Now to patient’s questions this week….

There is one question that I am repeatedly asked…What about the disputed date of Ian Gawler chest wall photographs? Why are these dates so important? To answer this I will refer  to: Continue reading “Gawler MJA a personal perspective on programs and what were the dates of those famous chest wall photographs?”

Too Good to be True? Meditation's role in cancer recovery…Grace Gawler comments

Grace Gawler is a prominent advocate for helping guide patients through the cancer maze by assisting them to create a health restoration plan that teaches patients how to access the best of conventional medicine while using complementary medicine as an adjuct to their compassionate care.

Meditation or I prefer to use the name relaxation can be a useful adjunct to a health restoration plan; however many patients expect more from meditation or relaxation than it can deliver.  The Grace Gawler Institute assists cancer patients to discover and take advantage of authentic cancer therapies i.e. the best of conventional medicine whilst using proven complementary medicine. Relaxation methods are a helpful aaddition to a patient’s recovery program. Please pass on this blog’s URL address on so that we can spread the word about helping cancer patients.

Each week, large numbers of clientele approach the Grace Gawler Institute for help after they have taken an exclusive Alternative Medicine role; sometimes for years, in order to treat their cancer. As a result,we see some horrendous cases of physical tissue destruction; where self-help and self empowerment in combination with the internet, books or workshops including the thought that meditation alone can cure their cancer; has led to self destruction.

By that stage often afraid to visit a doctor/oncologist, these patients often fall though the gaps in all systems of care and spend their final moments in palliative care, often in pain, isolated from friends or family and wondering where it all went wrong for them. People often ask me if working with cancer patients is sad or depressing – I have always said an emphatic no! However during the past 10 -12 years with the tremendous shift in how patients choose to treat their cancer & information available to them, I have found new feelings arising. Not depresssion – but anger towards  those who  influence patients down such a self destructive path in the name of healing. Yes – anger is an appropriate action- even for a meditator!

This brings me to the subject of today’s blog which is dedicated to the subject of the role of meditation in cancer recovery. In response to patients questions on my email since the Melbourne Age’s recent article “Too Good to be True“- that challenged the fact that Ian did not have secondary cancer; primary bone cancer yes…but secondary cancer no!  I offer the following which will answer the majority of questions.
For several months now I have been trying to convince a woman from the Sunshine Coast to seek a surgical solution for her advancing breast cancer. We have never met, but she maintains contact and occasionally sends a photograph of her suppurating breast: swollen, red, about to fungate and as tight as a basketball; she has had faith for 2 years that meditation in particular, and alternative medicine will cure her. Sadly she has reached a point where she can no longer cope with the pain! As well the cancer has likely spread internally.

Why do some cancer patients make ideological choices that override rationale? Many patients tell us they are inspired by the late Ainslie Meares work with cancer patients and most patients who come to see me believe strongly in Ian Gawler’s story – of how he conquered his cancer using meditation, diet and positive thinking. But patients do not know the necessary details of this now famous story. So they can make wise choices about what meditation or relaxation can achieve in reality; it is important to examine Ian’s case history – first published by Meares in an October 1978 MJA Abstract, 1978 Meares article  Although the article launched the idea that intensive meditation could influence the growth of cancer – the information that Meares published was severely flawed. He may not have been aware of this when the article went to print.

  1. A important timeline had been reversed – an error 19 months in the clinical timeline gave an impression that the patient, Ian Gawler had more disease than he actually had. When he “first saw Meares”- Dcember 1975 – there were no visible tumours as had been reported in the MJA – these “bony lumps” were in fact in line with the date on “famous chest wall photos” photographs published for the first time in the same article and labelled July 7 1977. Meares did not mention that at that stage Ian had advanced TB-likely he did not know or thought it incidental or post chemotherapy immune deficiency as Ian had not formerly had sessions with Meares since February 1976.
  2. This error – obvious if you do the maths; has never been challenged but has dangerously been a factor in creating the myth that meditation was a pivotal factor in Ian’s Gawler’s cancer being cured. The Meares Abstract title “Regression of osteogenic sarcoma associated with intensive meditation” says it all. This has had a huge influence in promoting unrealistic benefits of meditation. No wonder patients not privy to Ian’s actual story have been misled – believing if Ian can do it then they can do it too!
  3. Only recently (published in the Australian Doctor), did Ian agree that Meares had indeed been wrong with timelines and that he saw no need to correct it!
  4. Has anyone thought to ask that if Ian Gawler actually had lethal secondary bone cancer… and it went away…then why didn’t the meditation also influence the TB to disappear?
    Even a quote in A Dragon’s Blessing – Ian’s Biography-Page 164 states that when he had his “all clear” – June 1978, when the TB was first discovered; that the TB was visible on x-rays for at least 2 years prior! i.e it was at least visible June 1976 – meaning Ian would have definitely had TB before his chemotherapy which began in October 1976. Now IMJ 2012 Haines and Lowenthal, two oncologists suggest that there was no secondary cancer – just advanced TB creating calcified abscesses mimicking bone cancer. With no biopsy- they are likely right! Many health professionals now have no doubt including prof Alex Herzog from famous integrative oncologist from Germany.

Too Good to be True? Meditation’s role in cancer recovery…Grace Gawler comments

Grace Gawler is a prominent advocate for helping guide patients through the cancer maze by assisting them to create a health restoration plan that teaches patients how to access the best of conventional medicine while using complementary medicine as an adjuct to their compassionate care.

Meditation or I prefer to use the name relaxation can be a useful adjunct to a health restoration plan; however many patients expect more from meditation or relaxation than it can deliver.  The Grace Gawler Institute assists cancer patients to discover and take advantage of authentic cancer therapies i.e. the best of conventional medicine whilst using proven complementary medicine. Relaxation methods are a helpful aaddition to a patient’s recovery program. Please pass on this blog’s URL address on so that we can spread the word about helping cancer patients.

Each week, large numbers of clientele approach the Grace Gawler Institute for help after they have taken an exclusive Alternative Medicine role; sometimes for years, in order to treat their cancer. As a result,we see some horrendous cases of physical tissue destruction; where self-help and self empowerment in combination with the internet, books or workshops including the thought that meditation alone can cure their cancer; has led to self destruction.

By that stage often afraid to visit a doctor/oncologist, these patients often fall though the gaps in all systems of care and spend their final moments in palliative care, often in pain, isolated from friends or family and wondering where it all went wrong for them. People often ask me if working with cancer patients is sad or depressing – I have always said an emphatic no! However during the past 10 -12 years with the tremendous shift in how patients choose to treat their cancer & information available to them, I have found new feelings arising. Not depresssion – but anger towards  those who  influence patients down such a self destructive path in the name of healing. Yes – anger is an appropriate action- even for a meditator!

This brings me to the subject of today’s blog which is dedicated to the subject of the role of meditation in cancer recovery. In response to patients questions on my email since the Melbourne Age’s recent article “Too Good to be True“- that challenged the fact that Ian did not have secondary cancer; primary bone cancer yes…but secondary cancer no!  I offer the following which will answer the majority of questions.
For several months now I have been trying to convince a woman from the Sunshine Coast to seek a surgical solution for her advancing breast cancer. We have never met, but she maintains contact and occasionally sends a photograph of her suppurating breast: swollen, red, about to fungate and as tight as a basketball; she has had faith for 2 years that meditation in particular, and alternative medicine will cure her. Sadly she has reached a point where she can no longer cope with the pain! As well the cancer has likely spread internally.

Why do some cancer patients make ideological choices that override rationale? Many patients tell us they are inspired by the late Ainslie Meares work with cancer patients and most patients who come to see me believe strongly in Ian Gawler’s story – of how he conquered his cancer using meditation, diet and positive thinking. But patients do not know the necessary details of this now famous story. So they can make wise choices about what meditation or relaxation can achieve in reality; it is important to examine Ian’s case history – first published by Meares in an October 1978 MJA Abstract, 1978 Meares article  Although the article launched the idea that intensive meditation could influence the growth of cancer – the information that Meares published was severely flawed. He may not have been aware of this when the article went to print.

  1. A important timeline had been reversed – an error 19 months in the clinical timeline gave an impression that the patient, Ian Gawler had more disease than he actually had. When he “first saw Meares”- Dcember 1975 – there were no visible tumours as had been reported in the MJA – these “bony lumps” were in fact in line with the date on “famous chest wall photos” photographs published for the first time in the same article and labelled July 7 1977. Meares did not mention that at that stage Ian had advanced TB-likely he did not know or thought it incidental or post chemotherapy immune deficiency as Ian had not formerly had sessions with Meares since February 1976.
  2. This error – obvious if you do the maths; has never been challenged but has dangerously been a factor in creating the myth that meditation was a pivotal factor in Ian’s Gawler’s cancer being cured. The Meares Abstract title “Regression of osteogenic sarcoma associated with intensive meditation” says it all. This has had a huge influence in promoting unrealistic benefits of meditation. No wonder patients not privy to Ian’s actual story have been misled – believing if Ian can do it then they can do it too!
  3. Only recently (published in the Australian Doctor), did Ian agree that Meares had indeed been wrong with timelines and that he saw no need to correct it!
  4. Has anyone thought to ask that if Ian Gawler actually had lethal secondary bone cancer… and it went away…then why didn’t the meditation also influence the TB to disappear?
    Even a quote in A Dragon’s Blessing – Ian’s Biography-Page 164 states that when he had his “all clear” – June 1978, when the TB was first discovered; that the TB was visible on x-rays for at least 2 years prior! i.e it was at least visible June 1976 – meaning Ian would have definitely had TB before his chemotherapy which began in October 1976. Now IMJ 2012 Haines and Lowenthal, two oncologists suggest that there was no secondary cancer – just advanced TB creating calcified abscesses mimicking bone cancer. With no biopsy- they are likely right! Many health professionals now have no doubt including prof Alex Herzog from famous integrative oncologist from Germany.