Too Good to be True-Melbourne Age: Grace Gawler Answers Readers Questions

The Melbourne Age has alerted Cancer Patients patients across Australia and around the globe that Ian Gawler likely had TB and not secondary cancer during the 1970’s. Patients are confused, shocked, alarmed and asking questions about the recent controversy

The Melbourne Age has alerted Cancer Patients patients across Australia and around the globe that Ian Gawler likely had TB and not secondary cancer during the 1970’s. Patients are confused, shocked, alarmed and asking questions about the recent controversy. Does Ian Gawler’s ‘cancer-cure’ program work or not?
gracegawlermediablog readers have emailed a number of  questions which I will answer during the next week…..

Mary writes: I attended early groups at the Gawler Foundation; the diet was really helpful to me ,but it seems that at some point, the thrust of the Gawler message changed. I did not have a vegan diet but found the relaxation good. Grace, I am struggling to understand what has happened and why?

Hello Mary….The work of Ian Gawler, myself and the Foundation we co founded in the early 80’s; set a precedent in the way that lifestyle factors could be incorporated into a cancer recovery program. During those early days, the majority of our patients were having conventional therapy or had completed conventional therapies; adding our lifestyle changes as an adjunct to treatments.  Patients were assisted by stress reduction strategies, sensible changes to diet i.e. lowering saturated fats and processed foods, increasing fruit & vegetable consumption and fibre, while lowering red meat & increasing fish consumption. Basically a mediterranean style diet.  We made no claims that the lifestyle cahnges in themselves could or would cure cancer.
I eventually qualified in nutritional studies at distinction level in 1986 and had significant input into the diet presented  at our  residential programs during  the  founding years and up until I resigned in 1996.

At our residentials, a lacto-ovo vegetarian style diet was utilised for convenience- some people on chemo were sensitive to cooking smells such as fish so we did not include it. However a vegetarian diet was recommended as a short-term option for those whose diet was sub optimal before attending a program. I counselled patients in one on one sessions about how they could individualise their diets for optimum help when they returned home. I also referred patients to oncologists, radiation therapists, endocrinologists and GPs recognising they would likely need ongoing assistance and monitoring.

 I resigned in 1996.  In 1997 I was occupied with my own survival and recovery from complications associated with a routine surgery that had left my entire pelvic area and colon paralysed. During the following years significant changes had occurred that deviated from our original story –  the things that Ian and I did to help keep him alive and bring about his recovery had been changed.

A 2008 MJA “True Stories” article was reproduced on the Gawler Foundation website. A former patient alerted me to anomalies in the story and suggested I should investigate. Although I was in recovery from my last surgery performed in Singapore, I researched the article and was shocked by what I read. I wrote to the MJA and suggested they had to correct the errors in the story – lest it become an inaccurate record thereby negatively influencing choices that desperate cancer patients might make. The premise of the article was that:

1. “…Meares and the patient attributed the remarkable recovery to intensive meditation….” 
2. “…He still regularly meditates and teaches others with cancer to do so. His fastidious adoption of the Gerson diet for 3 months, followed by adherence to a plant-based wholefood ‘vegan diet’ may also have played some part. Such a lifestyle approach, incorporating meditation and a vegan diet, has recently been shown to cause significant modulation of gene expression and biological processes associated with tumour growth…”

Regarding these points

1: As a result of my refute letter MJA 2010 – Ian admitted that Meares published incorrect timelines in his 1978 MJA abstract that implied Intensive Meditation had been associated with his remission. The timelines were inverted making it appear that Ian had more ‘tumours’ than he actually did when he first saw Meares. Please refer to Ian Gawler Cancer “Cure’  on the main menu. This fact significantly alters the entire history. It also appears Meares was not informed of Ian’s TB diagnosis in 1978 and the fact it had been present for more than 2 years  as he did not mention it in his abstract. Thirdly, Ian attended Meares sessions for just 6 weeks and could not continue as meditation had not helped his condition-in fact his deterioration caused us to move on from Meares. Against Meares specific advice; Ian experiemented with imagery, mindfulness and many forms of meditation….yet claimed Ian’s recovery was associated with his style of meditation.
Relaxation is very helpful for cancer patients – but I do not believe it to be in any way curative for cancer.

2. Ian never had a vegan diet during the time of his recovery 1975-1978….through until 1997. I pointed this out in my refute letter published in the MJA September 2010. Ian has  since conceded in one of his blogs, that he has never had a vegan diet.

3. His adherance to the Gerson diet played no part in his recovery…he lost weight and deteriorated to the point of being immobilised while on the diet. following our experience, in the early days Ian and I strongly advised cancer patients not to follow the Gerson Diet Regimen.

Meryn writes: Did Ian really have TB or are these oncologists out to get him?

Hello Meryn – I am pleased you asked this question. I am the only living person who was present 24/7 for Ian throughout his illness and so the only one that can truly speak to this controversy. First of all –  It was presumed Ian had secondary cancer- but there were not proper investigations – no biopsy, but his condition was deemed at the time as “not typical of secondary osteogenic sarcoma“. Back then – this was no one’s fault – biopsies weren’t as routine as they are now.

No one is doubting Ian had primary osteogenic sarcoma- he may have even had TB in his bone way back then as we had lots of exposure to Tuberculin, used in our veterinary work to TB test cows. He was likely cured by his primary treatment – leg amputation. Many people were cured by leg amputation in the 1970’s and before that time. But when someone has such an influence on thousands maybe millions of cancer patients saying:  “If I can do it you can do it to…” and… if there is reasonable doubt that the diagnosis even 30 years on was incorrect – this becomes an important public health matter.

There is one way to solve the issue but unfortunately Ian has refused to have the “bone spicules” he coughed up during his recovery, examined. He also has a remaining calcified lymph node in his groin – the first ‘bump’ to appear  in November 1975. This could be biopsied – plus his actual history from the 1970’s could be examined if he wanted to set the record straight.  The latter day accounts of medical interventions that Ian is quoting as proof of his illness are of little relevance to what happened during the 70’s as he had no bony deposits in his lung or chest from 1978 until he left our marriage  in 1997.

In my practice I see a large number of patients who present with horrendous tumours. They have tried meditation, veganism, positive thinking and alternative medicine instead of conventional medicine. Many have spent tens of thousands of dollars on alt med supplements and infusions. Many die as a result of their choice – we help them where possible- but many become palliative patients. This is very sad as some of them would have high potential to be cured by conventional medicine instead of the pain, depression and misery that often results.
As an original inspirer and founder of the Gawler Foundation and the person who assited Ian throughout his illness – I have a public duty of care to raise concerns should any new and plausible view of Ian’s condition be put forward as has been done by Haines and Lowenthals IMJ paper.

The Gawler Story is recorded in my Memoirs:  Grace Grit and Gratitude – a self published book.  You can read most of this book online for free via Google books. It is also available from Brumby books Melbourne or via my website Bookshop.