The Role of Meditation in a High Profile Cancer Remission

The following extracts from my memoirs Grace, Grit and Gratitude (self-published Oct 2008) aims to set right the long held concept that meditation and a vegan diet played a major role in Ian Gawler’s cancer  cure.

For many years I have been trying somewhat unsuccessfully to correct published accounts of our story, however the true story as revealed, may hold many more possibilities, inspiration and research options for those going through the cancer experience.
To clarify, Ian first saw Ainslie Meares 12 December 1975 – when a bony metastasis was diagnosed in his right groin. Ian spent 6 weeks under Meares meditation directives – deteriorating significantly during that time; so much so that we abandoned his groups and his technique; choosing to explore other options. There has been much confusion about this point because in 1978 Meares erroneously reported Ian’s medical history, distorting the timeline and making it appear that Ian had attended his sessions when his cancer was widespread. Many may have seen the now famous pictures first published in You Can Conquer Cancer. These are not pictures taken when Ian first saw Meares (Dec 1975) but were taken July 1977 – 19 months after he first saw Meares. At that time Ian was quite well – but was carrying an enormous tumour load. 
Meditation and diet had not impacted the cancer growth – but perhaps there was a silent healer within; unknown to us until Ian’s remission June 30 1978. More about that later.
In brief Meares’ error has provided the foundation for the volumes of misreporting of Ian Gawler’s remission.

February 1976:
Regarding Meditation-From my memoirs

“…..Ian and I knew how bad it was ‘24-7’, and that he would soon die meditating if we did not do something else, so that day marked the ending of our formal relationship with Ainslie Meares. I did not see him again, but Ian kept in touch with him from time-to-time.
While meditation is a wonderful tool that supports patients in many ways, it did not play the most significant role in Ian’s remission. How do I know? Simply because I was there, I was present before, during and after his cancer and believe my view to be accurate. During our darkest days when Ian’s prognosis was two to three weeks to live, an emaciated, pain riddled and rapidly deteriorating Ian kept hoping that Meares’ technique would be the turning point.

Our lives became a hellish continuum of sleepless nights, enemas and eventually morphine when the pain was beyond the pail. Weeks passed and as he tried and tried to meditate, day by day he became immobile, more ill and in greater pain such that I had to confront Meares on the ‘just keep meditating’ issue.

Ian had followed reluctantly but he knew that although meditation was helping him spiritually, it was not having the desired affects physically. He so much wanted to believe that meditation could cure; but the facts spoke for themselves; his condition was deteriorating at an alarming speed and had we not tried out other treatments at that time; he would certainly have died.

Ian Gawler 1976
Ian in Philippines March 1976

We went on to discover the pathways of acupuncture and alternative medicine with a qualified general practitioner, which thankfully brought the first small window of pain relief. Ian’s pain had clearly become his disease and while it continued, he deteriorated so that all other therapies apart from large doses of love had little benefit. His pain absorbed every ounce of energy he had so that there was nothing left to assist his healing.”

After Ian’s remission in 1978:
PP 218-219 Grace, Grit and Gratitude

“An article that appeared in the Medical Journal of Australia saw our lives take a dramatic turn when a wave of media mayhem began due to an article titled ‘Regression of Osteogenic Sarcoma Associated with Intensive Meditation’ that appeared in The Medical Journal of Australia. (October 21, 1978)

The report summarized our healing journey in a few paragraphs and came as a complete surprise to me—I had not known about the release and publication, and felt flabbergasted by its content. The article begins “The patient aged 25 underwent a mid thigh amputation for osteogenic sarcoma, 11 months before he first saw me 21/2 years ago. He had visible bony lumps of about 2 cm in diameter growing from ribs, sternum and the crest of the ileum, and was coughing up small quantities of blood in which he said he could feel small spicules of bone…. etc.”

The article caused a media sensation, proposing a link between intensive meditation and remission of Ian’s cancer. However, as I was an intimate part of Ian’s cancer journey from the beginning and his sole carer, I could not make any sense of Meares’ version of our story.

Throughout Ian’s journey, I had documented and kept photographic records. My memories as the person who carried the daily loads during Ian’s illness were vivid, and I have no doubt that Ian’s history would have turned out differently, had we not moved on and incorporated other therapies other than meditation. I believe, as did doctors at the time, that his obituary, rather than an abstract about his recovery would have followed, had we not visited the Philippines. The supportive care, faith and love in action that we found there, inspired Ian;  reconnecting him with his will to live, no doubt an element that helped him to survive.

I felt a weighing disappointment inside my body as I read the published case report, as if someone had reached into my chest and ripped out my heart. It was too late, our arduous healing journey now broadcast to the media, was an unacceptable misrepresentation that no doubt would be difficult to correct. I was angry that no one had consulted or informed me about the appearance of the abstract nor given the opportunity to review it before publication. I did not know what to do when our efforts were misreported and trivialised. Torn between acquiescence and accuracy, I had an ethical crisis. It was too late!

As predicted, the media soon ran the meditation cures cancer story while I became a voice lost in the wilderness. My concern was for the cancer population and their carers, a desperate group I had come to know well. I knew that patients and partners would try to replicate our story and I knew the unspoken hardships and pitfalls they would endure if they tried to assume our roles. Without our veterinary/medical knowledge, we could not have managed our situation—nor could we have made the crucial choices required when let down by therapy after therapy that failed us. More coming soon….