Written by pip Cornall Qld, Australia
For the past three years I’ve been an assistant to Grace Gawler. Grace is renowned for her 35 years of pioneering work with cancer patients. I assist Grace’s clients with yoga, breathing, relaxation skills and counselling and co-facilitate a variety of workshops for patients, therapists and care givers alike.
In these roles I’ve seen some massive ‘dysfunction’ (that’s being kind) and I’m both angry and concerned that lives are being needlessly lost due to choices based on spin, misinformation and hidden agendas. After a cancer diagnosis most patients are in a state of shock (PTSD). Many enter a frantic period of trying to chart the best healing and treatment options. It is vital they be given accurate information but that is not as easy as it should be. I offer the following in the hope that cancer patients will be thus alerted to the dysfunction within the industry and be enabled to make better decisions.
I observe two common approaches to cancer healing: One is grounded in science and the pragmatic while the other is more emotional. The latter seems to easily ‘devolve into an ‘airy-fairy’ approach where seemingly logical people go into denial, ‘dissociate’ and make decisions from a trance-like state. Such people exhibit a ‘doe-eyed’ quality which is quite obvious to us and we think- dangerous. I caution patients to become more self aware and notice when they are making an emotionally driven decision or a grounded intellectual one.
I know the ‘C’ word and associated fear along with a desire to follow ‘nature’s intelligence’ is partly to blame for the emotional approach. Prior to these last three years, I may have made similar choices myself so I write this from a point of compassion and understanding. Nevertheless I address this topic because it is serious—it can be a matter of less pain/more pain or life and death!
Interestingly both approaches can be applied to the three main healing paths which patients follow. These are the conventional (allopathic), alternative or complementary medicine routes.
Conventional therapies are evidence-based treatments that have been tested following scientific guidelines and proven to be safe and effective at curing cancer, slowing its growth or providing relief from symptoms. These include surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and immunotherapy.
Alternative therapies are used instead of conventional therapies. Most have not been scientifically tested or, have little evidence supporting their safety and effectiveness. E.G. laetrile, shark cartilage, special diets such as Gerson or macrobiotic and herbal treatments like mistletoe (NCCAM, 2004)
Complementary therapies are used with conventional treatments. They do not cure cancer but may help to relieve symptoms or side-effects and improve well-being. Some examples of complementary therapies are acupuncture, aromatherapy, art therapy, massage therapy, meditation, visualization and yoga (NCCAM, 2004). Complementary therapies are sometimes referred to as supportive care medicine.
1. One woman spent two years in the jungles of South America before coming to Grace’s practice. She hoped the shamans and ‘plant medicine’s would cure her breast cancer. She returned with serious cancer spread and was deemed inoperable—an ulcer on her breast was deep enough for a cotton bud to disappear into. A simple early intervention would have been successful.
2. Other patients were treated by ‘natural healers’—supposed ‘experts’ in cancer healing. One client worked with such a therapist for nearly seven years. He used expensive ‘machine-based’ tests to assure his clients they were in good health even while their cancer continued to spread. It is clear neither they nor their machines understood the nature of cancer.
3. Some of these patients were told they no longer had cancer! They were thus lulled into complacency while within their bodies the cancer was growing and spreading. It took considerable persuasion by Grace to insist on some conventional tests such as MRI or PET scans to prove that her initial appraisal of advanced cancer was accurate.
4. There are ‘entrepreneurs’ on the lucrative cancer speaking circuit making untested claims. Upon investigation many had dubious experience at supporting cancer patients or their medical histories or qualification did not check out. Some erroneously use the title ‘Dr’ to imply qualification and authority in cancer healing. Many of these are well known entities make vast sums of money with their sensationalised and often simplistic approaches—some wear cowboy hats. Such advice can be life threatening—the cancer continuing to spread while the patient trials a ‘raw food’ or radical diet.
5. In my three years I seen that serious ‘dysfunction’ exists in both natural and conventional medical systems.
6. Sadly within the conventional medical system I’ve seen examples of ‘bad’ doctors, oncologists and radiologists. They too are guilty of spin, misinformation and hidden agendas not revealed to patients.
7. I’ve seen that truth is elusive in both systems and people will lie to protect their jobs, promote a hidden agenda (such as research) or line their pockets. The danger is that patients find it difficult to tell who is authentic and what treatments (of all types) are viable for their cancer.
8. Significant numbers of patients who come to Grace’s practice are ‘end stage.’ Some have tragically made their decisions to follow the alternate route based Ian Gawler’s healing story—You Can Conquer Cancer—information Grace, as Ian’s full time care giver has always refuted—namely that a vegan diet and intensive meditation ‘cured’ his cancer. It has even been so reported in the prestigious Medical Journal of Australia (MJA) both in 1978 by Ainslie Meares and again in 2008 by Ruth Gawler and Professor Jelinek from the Gawler Foundation. The impact of such information is widespread. A simple Google search such as ‘meditation cures cancer’ or vegan diet cures cancer’ comes up with some 3-4 million articles—many quote the Ian Gawler or Ainslie Meares data which is now being refuted.
Pip Cornall – Paradise Point, Queensland, Australia – 2010
About Grace Gawler’s Cancer Work: It is not often a Naturopath is highly respected by leading oncologists in Australia and overseas but in Grace Gawler’s case there is good reason. After 35 years experience working with over 13,000 cancer patients, Grace is known for her uncanny intuition, an in-depth grasp of science and a broad range of complementary skills enabling her to guide the most ‘hopeless’ of cancer patients to recovery.
Although in recent years there has been much talk of ‘integrative medicine,’ few countries have adopted it widely. Grace is concerned that all too often, the term ‘holistic medicine’ is weighted to mean a range of alternative therapies which completely ignore—even haughtily dismiss western (allopathic) medicine.
But bridging the gap is Grace’s forte. It’s not uncommon for her patients to sail through chemotherapy with minimal discomfit and side effects. Nurses and oncologists, observing their excellent positive response to the chemo, commonly ask what else they are doing to get such good results.
Such partnering is true integrative medicine according to Grace and a direct contrast to the horror stories heard from patients who were ‘treated’ by self proclaimed ‘natural’ cancer healers. Lulled into a false sense of security while the tumours were steadily growing, these patients received treatments that were not only illegal in some cases, but often aggravated or hastened the disease. Some come to Grace as ‘end stage’ cases whom she often refers to overseas clinics for highly effective cancer treatment where the survival rate is higher and the treatment regime less harsh.
There is much unnecessary polarisation between proponents of natural and western medicine. The loser is the patient. An intelligent ‘partnership’ between the two is long overdue.
History: Back in 1974, Grace was a 21 year old vet nurse when her casual boyfriend and co veterinarian, Ian Gawler lost his leg to bone cancer. Defying family, friends and medical authorities, who gave Ian only weeks to live, Grace took a powerful proactive stance which is legendary today. Ian survived, their case became famous and soon they established a cancer healing centre guiding thousands of cancer patients.
Grace’s unique start was an excellent foundation for her life work. Grace explains that long before she studied naturopathy, from the age of 15 while still at high school, she was a part time vet nurse. Due to her enthusiasm Grace was soon assisting in serious operations. When Ian fell ill she had years of working on animals with cancer and also had trialled natural and conventional methods of healing.
Between 1974 and 1978, when Ian finally had his cancer remission, Grace was primed to be an extraordinary 24/7 healer, care giver, guide, researcher and motivator. She went on to become a distinction level naturopath studying under Dorothy Hall and in the 90’s, her USA based study of body-psychotherapy with the famed Dr Ilana Rubenfeld, added to an expansive tool bag.
Although Ian Gawler initially acknowledged Grace’s innate flair for partnering natural and scientific medicine, his remarkable recovery is, unfortunately, one of the most misreported cancer recovery stories virally circulating the globe today. These stories, with the help of the internet are likely responsible in the recent upsurges of patients who misguidedly try to treat their cancer using natural methods alone.