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”.


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


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:




Take care and be safe with your one precious life!


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:



The following Survivorship links will be helpful:





Listen to Navigating the Cancer Maze – Today’s show.

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