Ian Gawler – Is Bemusement the Appropriate Response for Cancer Patients and Caregivers?

More at www.gracegawler.com

For more than 3 decades, Australia’s most famous recovered cancer patient has travelled under the medical radar without his medical history being questioned – that is until now.

Health, wellbeing and aspiring to assist people with life challenging illness has been a life-long passion. My interest in healing was I believe genetic – a product of my mother’s Irish side of the family. Going back some 52 years to my first day at primary school, I was the only child with wholemeal salad sandwiches, I was vegetarian and had to manage a lot of teasing. My Irish genes served me well and I developed a doggedness for standing up for myself, for what I knew was right and what I knew was right for me. I was also heavily influenced by my health and lifestyle conscious uncle Leo White – alias Kid Young, an Australian champion boxer who was terrific bloke as well as a mentor. I knew that I had a vocation early in life. This manifested initially through healing and veterinary work – I worked as a part time nurse when I was at high school and met Ian Gawler when he came as a locum vet. He offered me a job at his clinic and eventually a relationship blossomed – but within a few months he was diagnosed with bone cancer and had a leg amputated. The rest is history or should I say now, ‘his-story’.
The ‘her – story’  – my important role in his recovery, seems to have been relegated to the ‘his-story’ books.
Now this is not only a great shame for me as his passionate 24/7 caregiver and motivator – but it is even more important for the caregivers of the world and the patients they strive to support.  When this critical role is erased from a high-profile cancer remission case – as it has been in Ian Gawler’s remission story, it creates a false belief system that critically ill patients can survive single-handedly. In fact, I have heard Ian introduced by Jon Feine of Melbourne ABC radio – as the man who single-handedly conquered cancer! For anyone who has been in the role of either patient or caregiver this misrepresents the vital roles and necessity of pro-active support when times are tough and prognosis is poor.
But – there is more to the story. It is one thing to ‘write me off” or out of history, but it is another to then change and misreport the patient’s (Ian Gawler’s) clinical timeline and represent the whole package to the cancer community as factual. Since I resigned from the Gawler Foundation 1996 – a new story has emerged – our story has has a facelift – a total medical makeover and the entity is unrecognisable! It is not ethical re rewrite history.

Why? Because the lives of cancer patients depend upon true and accurate reporting. It is not only about being a beacon of hope to have survived. We know that desperate and vulnerable patients will try to emulate the methods others used to recover and herein lies the problem. The more famous the recovered patient – the more care there should be with accurate reporting. In Ian Gawler’s case, if those methods are proven to be false or inaccurate (which they have been in the MJA), then there follows a duty of care to inform the public, patients and especially integrated medical doctors who base their advice on Ian Gawler’s story. Patients tend not to read the Medical journal of Australia (MJA) or The Australian Doctor where the medical misreporting is recorded. This story must find a place in the popular press – for the sake of making the way easy for the current and future generations of cancer patients and their prime caregiver/partners.
References:
11 December 2008  Gawler & Jelinek    http://www.mja.com.au/public/issues/189_11_011208/jel11032_fm.html

September 2010 – Grace Gawler MJA refute
http://www.mja.com.au/public/issues/193_06_200910/letters_200910_fm-1.pdf

More at www.gracegawler.com – also refer to previous blog for Inspiring People exerpt.