Why a brave mum said no to chemotherapy – Adelaide Now: Grace Gawler comments

My Institute has found it a challenge to get articles published about the dangers of exclusive use of alternative medicine in treating cancer; an alarming and growing trend in Australia! So when I saw the article “Why a brave mum said no to chemotherapy” in ‘Adelaide Now’ a mainstream newspaper – I was rather shocked. I have seen a lot of ovarian cancer during my career – I am yet to see anyone recover without conventional treatments and complementary approaches combined and I am amazed that anyone would recommend mothers to not have chemotherapy!  Today cancer medicine both here and overseas has many excellent treatments for ovarian cancers especially new anitibody treatments. I have supported many women who were smitten with alt/med then faced the hard yards of chemotherapy after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer. I know many long term survivors.

As an educator in cancer medicine and a qualified naturopath working with cancer patients for almost 4 decades… and as one who on a daily basis sees the advantages of the synergy of complementary and conventional medicine versus the disadvantage of cancer patient’s alt med choices – I believe the article and associated blog (mumsnothavingchemo.com) to be highly misleading and a misuse of the author’s position as a journalist.

Get the facts right for others that follow

I believe in free speech – but free speech must act both ways with right of reply accepted for healthy debate. I became concerned when I wrote a polite and balanced comment below the above mentioned online article in the ‘comments box’. Within minutes of pressing the submit button however – the box had vanished. I then wrote to the editor of the Adelaide paper in a letter to the Editor. Silence!
Pip – one of our Institute’s directors, then wrote on the blog associated with the article. { www.MumsNotHavingChemo.com } He authored a well balanced and polite response even inviting dialogue on the issue – his comments must have been blocked from appearing on the site presumably due to a differing opinion. blitzed again! As cancer educators we are concerned for the desperate and vulnerable who may give credibility to a journalist & publication in a recognised newspaper. Much of the information Laura Bond is regurgitating and proselytizing has been around for decades and much of it  I examined in the mid – late 1970’s when my partner Ian Gawler was diagnosed with bone cancer. Even his case has been misquoted, important facts omitted and albeit his entire story misreported in 2008 in the Medical Journal of Australia necessitating my correction in September 2010. Sorting out fact from fiction and reality from idelology in cancer care will no doubt continue.

In conclusion, if anyone is to recommend an exclusively alternative treatment to
cancer patients – then like other registered health professionals, let them be
responsible for the outcomes of each patient. If Laura Bond and her mum choose this path – then let them be well advised and let them do it in isolation rather than influencing others. Last week I saw more cases of people like Penelope Dingle who had used alternative medicine exclusively to treat their cancer…Personally I am concerned for every patient I see presenting with avoidable symptoms, unneccessary pain and suffering and grieving families when it all goes belly-up. Informed choice also means being informed adequately and accurately.
The media has a responsibility to present accurate and balanced information and print or allow right of reply about such an important public issue.  My letter to the editor of Adelaide Now will be reproduced on my next blog along with some comments

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