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 and 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:
- 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’”