The Wellness Warrior: Denial, Delusion, or Dishonesty?

I’ve been observing a young lady who goes by the title ‘The Wellness Warrior’ and calls herself a ‘Cancer Thriver’ for quite some time now and I’ve come to the point where I can no longer stay silent out of sympathy for her tragic situation. The reason for this; she is lying to herself, lying to her followers, lying to the public about her situation and deliberately hiding the truth of her condition. This can not continue, she is influencing people’s health and cancer treatment choices by misleading them. It is unconscionable. I will probably get slammed for speaking out about this but I don’t care, someone has to.

Jessica Ainscough was diagnosed with Epithelioid Sarcoma in her left arm in 2008 at the age of 22. According to her own account of the story she had an isolated limb perfusion (high dose chemotherapy just to the arm), but was advised by her oncologist after relapse that amputation, although possibly not a cure, was her best option for survival or living a long life. Jess didn’t think this was an ‘attractive option’ and she decided against it and turned to the Internet looking for better options, which is where she found Gerson Therapy. In short, Gerson Therapy is a cancer ‘cure’ scam that costs thousands of dollars and involves a restrictive diet and lifestyle of living on juices and doing up to five coffee enemas per day. You can see Jess demonstrating her method for doing the enemas here.

A friend who works in oncology informs me that since Jess abandoned conventional therapy there has been huge advances in treatment. Newer targeted therapies have just about made isolated limb perfusion obsolete. Sadly for Jess, her adherence to Gerson Therapy and other nonsense for so long has almost certainly cost her any benefit she could have gained from the newer therapies.

Epithelioid Sarcoma is a slow growing cancer. Without treatment, it has a 50-70% 5 year survival rate, and a 42-55% 10 year survival rate. Jess has been living with this cancer for 6 years now, so it is no surprise that she is still alive. In fact, it is almost expected that she would still be alive at this point. Her cancer is simply taking its natural course. There is no miracle here, no story of miraculous survival, and no ‘remission’ as she claims. Just normal disease progression. How do I know the disease is progressing as expected? By monitoring her endless stream of photographs. That is no easy task because she makes every effort to hide her diseased arm, behind other people, inside shirt sleeves, and more recently, inside a bandage, but I have seen enough to form an opinion on what is going on here.

For instance, see this lovely photograph of a young beautiful, vibrant Jess in 2008. Her arm and hand look great. There is no denying she looks well, even healthy and there is no obvious sign of the cancer in her left arm.

image

Fast forward to 2011, and here we can clearly see lesions on the outside of her left arm and hand, and underside of her left arm as well.

Red obvious lesions, 2011.

Red obvious lesions, 2011.

And pictured here in 2013 Her arm started to look decidedly worse. No longer just lesions on her hand and arm, the arm is looking quite misshapen with the lesions turning into wounds. I’m told the medical term for this is fungating wounds.

image              image              2013 Left arm clearly misshapen.

Despite the tragic loss of her mother to breast cancer in 2013 (she took the same ‘treatment’ path as Jess), she continues to promote Gerson Therapy as the reason for her own survival, with the caveat that ‘Like conventional treatment, it doesn’t work for everyone because every person, and every cancer is different.’ I can’t imagine what kind of mental and emotional gymnastics she has had to perform to be comfortable with the fact that her mother died following the very same protocol that Jess claims saved her.

None of this has stopped Jess from turning her circumstances into a career. And by her own admission, a very lucrative career, but that is OK because money is energy after all.

image

Jess Ainscough: “I drink green juice, eat an organic diet, and I meditate; however the thing that adds the most weight to my wellness regime is the fact that I do something I love every single day. I wake up every morning and get to live the life of my dreams, doing work that never feels like work. And the sweet kicker is that I earn way more now than I could have ever achieved working for somebody else in the corporate world. Everyone deserves this kind of freedom, support and love in their life!!”

image

Jess Ainscough: “Hey lovely Chloe, I kind of used to have that same belief when I started considering my blog as a career. I started thinking that maybe it wasn’t in keeping with my new identity to want to make money. But I quickly realised that money is just another form of energy, and when we are being of service and living our purpose the money will easily flow to us. Plus, we need money in order to make a significant difference in the world. To me, money means I can look after my health, look after my family, and build my biz and team up so that I can spread my message far and wide. I hope this helps! Xxx”

 Just recently Jess completed a national speaking tour, charging people around $100 per head to come and hear her story of cure through Gerson Therapy, good food and positive thinking. Photos from the event were revealing, especially in what they did not reveal. Her left hand and wrist were hidden by a bandage. When a fellow observer asked about it on her Facebook page this was her response:

Jessjess-arm-lie image

Commenter: “Jess, I think a lot of people are concerned about how your arm looks in these images compared to the past few years. Would you consider seeing a doctor about it? What do you think is going on?”

Jess Ainscough: “Hi, my arm is swollen in these pics because of all the flying I’ve been doing. It’s going back down now. I have lymphedema in my arm, and I am working with two doctors and a naturopath to do everything I can to help it. Lymphedema is something people have to deal with their whole lives when they have had lymph nodes removed and the kind of treatment I’ve had on my arm.”

Lymphedema? Possibly. But that is not all that is going on here. Having never engaged with Jess before, I couldn’t remain silent so I raised my concerns:

Fiona and I to Jess

 “Jess, this concerns me. My mum had lymphedema after treatment for breast cancer that included a mastectomy and  removal of lymph nodes (no chemo). She had to wear a full length  compression stocking, not a little bandage like you have. It is my  understanding that lymphedema doesn’t leave a limb lumpy with red  lesions, but affects the entire limb equally. And it doesn’t cause lesions  like you have. Jess I’m really worried, please see an oncologist, this  looks like disease progression to me.”

Jess’ response? She deleted my comment. So I tried again:

 “Jess Ainscough, why was my comment expressing concern about your arm deleted? It was polite, and expressed genuine concern about the condition of your arm, and you. You have 55,000 + fans here, many who admire what you are doing and some who are following your lead in one way or another. It is disingenuous to delete something honest like what I wrote. I lost my mum in exactly the same way you did – to cancer, except she chose conventional therapy which gave us an extra 20years. Your arm looks diseased, with lesions on it, not like a case of lymphedema. Please don’t lie to us about it, the amount of influence you have demands honesty.”

Her response this time around? Hide the comment and reply. You can see the response for yourself, and my follow up comment as well but the crux of what Jess has to say is:

” I’m not being dishonest. I don’t claim to have cured myself of cancer. I’ve not once said this… I’m working with a team of medical professionals.”

image

Jess Ainscough: “Hi Rosalie, I’m not being dishonest. I don’t claim to have cured myself of cancer. I’ve not once said this. I live with cancer and I manage it to the best of my ability. Many people believe that I refused medical treatment, but this isn’t the case. There was nothing my doctors could offer me in the way of a cure, so I choose to manage my condition. Thank you for your concern, but I’m not complacent when it comes to my health and I’m working with a team of medical professionals. Xx”

My reply, which went unanswered:

“Jess Ainscough, you may never had said the word cure in public but everything you say and do leads people to think you have cured yourself. Only a couple of weeks ago you claimed to be in remission in the Sydney Morning Herald and based on your photos, looking at your arm, that is clearly not true. You can play semantics all you like, but you and I both know that you have been hiding your arm and the progression of the cancer in it for quite some time now, and that is dishonest. Did you talk about the disease progression on your tour? Have you ever? I have only ever seen you say that the lesions on your arm are the ‘cancer coming out’. Something no one else will probably say to you too is that your type of cancer is a slowly progressing cancer. Your disease would be in the exactly same state it is in now without all the torture and expense of Gerson Therapy. Please be honest with your followers. People are choosing Gerson Therapy to treat their cancers because of you. People who might otherwise be saved by conventional therapy. Sure, it is their decision, but you are influencing their decisions. And that requires you to be upfront about your own condition and you are not. I know this thread is hidden and no one else can see it, but I hope you will give some consideration to what I have said.”

So Jess says she does not claim to have cured herself. She sure likes to give that impression though. Here in an online interview Jess allows the claim that she cured herself of cancer, naturally to stand.

image                  image

“You cured yourself of cancer, naturally. It’s a “stop the press” kind of moment, yet, because we find it so amazing, what does it say about our relationship with our bodies?
[Jess] We definitely don’t trust ourselves enough, or give our bodies the credit they deserve when it comes to healing. We are designed to self heal – as long as we provide the right environment to do so.”

And here we have a perfect example of the impression jess gives. Without actually saying ‘cured’ of course. Cancer free / cured. Tomato / tomato.

image

I was also sent a private message by one of her handlers to say that she is consulting Doctors about her arm and it is a private matter. I’m sorry Jess, but everything you do and say publicly implies that you have cured yourself. Your wide eyed, adoring followers think you have cured yourself. I despair about how many people have chosen Gerson Therapy to ‘treat’ their (possibly otherwise treatable) cancer due to your wonderful, positive story.

The elephant in the room here? Your left arm. If you are being so honest about your condition, why all the effort to hide the arm? Why haven’t your followers and fans been told about the problems with your arm? Why did you lie and say its just lymphedema from flying? When are you going to talk publicly about the state of your arm?

You are being dishonest, by hiding the whole story.

You are lying by omission.

You are misleading people, for profit and adulation.

 Does her focus on making money from her new life eliminate any sense of decency she might have once had? I know what I think, but one thing is for sure – she has zero tolerance for any honest public dialogue about her condition, and doesn’t want her wide eyed believers to be exposed to it either.

Over to you Jess, your move. Will you continue to mislead the very people who have contributed to your success? Or will honesty and human decency win out and see you speaking the real truth about your condition?

And media. When is someone going to call her out and report on this situation for what it is instead of fawning over the beautiful young girl who drinks green smoothies? It is time someone in the media took a close look at this situation and exposed the cold hard facts.

Edited to add: Jess has responded by writing a blog, which I will write a reply to over the next few days as time allows. Here is her response.

 

If you liked this post, you might like to see how Jess’ tribe responded when she passed away.

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159 thoughts on “The Wellness Warrior: Denial, Delusion, or Dishonesty?

  1. Sad to hear she passed away,but not unexpected. Her last blog entry from December provides some insight as to how things had changed the last few months. Albeit too late. It’s a valiant effort to think we can cue cancer with diet and positive thinking but it’s simply not true. Lost my father to lung cancer December 2013 so I’ve been there.

    • A fraud? Pfft. Not even close. Jess took a long hard journey and she was open and honest along the way, so we could all discover and experience through her. She also learnt lessons along the way and shared those with her followers – and she called herself a cancer thriver because she NEVER said she had cured herself because her cancer was incurable. You’re an absolute low life to make such ridiculous claims. And clearly, you haven’t followed her properly and you dont know the facts. Go drown in your own negativity you utter piece of shit.

      • It is beyond me why every single “positivists” ends their judgemental commen in a rude way. That is not even passive agressivness but full fledged agression.

      • Danielle, just in case you don’t have time to read through the whole list of 37 things that Rosalie has linked to, I will summarise it for you. The following are some direct quotes from Jessica:
        ‘The book is about natural health and healing, living a Wellness Warrior lifestyle, and how I cured my own cancer’
        ‘This therapy worked for me, and now it is working for my mother’
        ‘I will be getting up on my soap box to share my story about how I am curing myself of an “incurable” sarcoma.’
        ‘For the past eighteen months, I have been curing myself of cancer using a natural healing modality called Gerson Therapy’

      • Piece of shit? Seriously I suggest you go drown in your negativity I live a beautiful honest holistic life not a deluded one that’s for sure. I’ve followed Jess’s blog for years and there is nothing honest about it she mentioned many times she cured herself from cancer. Your either related to her or a deluded fan.

  2. Very sad. Condolences to her true family and friends. Please look after yourselves people, don’t believe the hype about natural cures. Every oncologist and surgeon world wide would jump for joy if any of it were true.

  3. I Stumbled on this blog post after reading that Jess had passed away. I was shocked she had died. I had followed her story on and off for a few years and must be really gullible as I thought she was a pillar of health, or at least that is how I interpreted it. I am thankfully healthy but had I been faced with choosing a cancer treatment I would have seriously considered Gerson, that is until yesterday when the veil was lifted.

    I feel incredibly sad for her and her family.RIP.

  4. So very sad. I was just reading a post from 2011 where she says the sores on her hands are the tumors “leaving her body” and that this is part of the Gerson healing. Ugh… NOT TRUE. That was her cancer spreading. If she had received proper treatment, she would have lived a full life. Truly tragic.

    • Good god, that sounds like something out of the Scientology end of town’s garbled self delusion – it’s a tragic self delusion actually.
      If we just stop for a second and think, then, the idea that a twenty something woman with no science or medical training, can simply spend some time on the internet, and find an alternative means to manage/cure cancer is so patently absurd that it shouldn’t get any credit full stop.
      Yet this is world we are living in and people including magazine and book publishers are promoting this sort of irrational and grand delusion. The internet is a powerful tool for information in instant timeframe, but we must always be aware that its openness allows the ill informed as just much space as the credible, valid source information.
      Sad story.

  5. I thought she had cured herself naturally, her death came as a shock. I wasn’t impressed after she used her fame to take down a gorgeous cafe in Byron. So very sad, RIP Jess.

  6. Pingback: Jessica Ainscough dies from cancer | Losing In The Lucky Country

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  8. So frustrating!! Why are these so called doctors allowed to get away with this quackery! They are taking advantage and making money off of people in their most vulnerable and desperate state! If there is a hell, it’s meant for them!

  9. Thank you for your blog. It is much needed to keep the balans in this proliferation of New Age- y oversimplified approach to health and healing. However I would to see your take of mainstream medicine who often do the same. For example – Angelina Jolie embraced mainstream medicine approach (extreme aspect of it ) to prevention and has cut off her healthy brests “just in case”. What is your take on that? For how many healthy brets cut offs is she responsible? Who misguided her? Did you think of writing an open letter to her and follow her health condition?

    • Hi S.I,
      Medicine isn’t perfect, nor does it claim to be. It doesn’t sell pretty lies packaged up as “alternatives”, it simply is what it is – an approach based on an evidence base rather than wishful thinking.

      As far as Angelina Jolle goes, the surgery she had lowered her risk of breast cancer from 87% to less than 5%. That is a pretty good result in my opinion. She put her health and future ahead of vanity and made a decision that gave her an 82% better chance of surviving to raise her children and be a grandparent. If I were faced with the same situation I would do exactly the same.

      As for how many women are having the same surgery? For women with the BRCA1 gene mutation, it is their best chance for a long life. Why would I, or anyone, have a problem with that? Angelina has not made a business out of her situation, nor is she persuading people to undertake a treatment that has not one shred of evidence to support it when other evidence based treatments will offer them a better chance. I fail to see the true comparison here to be honest.

  10. As much as I feel sorry for her – cancer isn’t an easy battle or a pleasant one – I can’t bring myself to excuse what she did. Not only did she deny herself a chance to extend her life without dragging it out miserably, but she did it with her mom too, and probably hundreds of other gullible people out there.
    And all because she refused to keep an open mind.
    I suppose it’s their fault as much as hers not to go with a logical treatment based on evidence, and inject coffee into their rectums instead, but I suppose I’m just frustrated with how easily people blind themselves and choose to believe whatever’s convenient to them. Because their foolhardy decisions don’t affect only them, they affect their families as well.

  11. At the beginning of last year I was very naive, I watched her videos and became very inspired by this ‘natural healing’ – at the time i was very unwell myself with thyroid issues, severe back pain, depression and chronic fatigue and looking for a natural cure – I started coffee enemas as she described up to 3x a day, I did this for months in the hope that I was ‘healing’ my body. I started feeling worse, much worse, but was advised that me feeling worse was just the nasty detox symptoms as I got rid of all the toxins from my body via enema, drinking organic juices ect. Every day was scary heart palpitations and feeling like passing out. The ‘detox’ symptoms never went away and I ended up servery anemic and in hospital from an electrolyte imbalance – i had a seizure. I was told to stop the enemas and eat a balanced diet, once I did this I started feeling better. I would never put myself through that again and feel stupid that I jumped so quickly into something like that because I thought it was so amazing that this girl cured her cancer this way….. My iron levels have still not returned to normal a whole year later. The danger with these detox enemas is that they are not only flushing ‘toxins’ from your body – but important things that we need too. It’s sad that she has died this week, but now when I am thinking with a logical mind, It’s not surprising. With social media being so huge, It’s scary to think how much dangerous influence these ‘wellness warriors’ are giving vulnerable people.

    • I would love for a story like this to be published in the mainstream media. I really can not understand the logic behind coffee enemas.. particularly 5 of them a day like she was doing. sounds like self abuse to me.

    • Oh how awful and scary for you 😦 Its so sad that people looked up to her and yet she was not being completely honest.

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  13. Jess never once said she had ‘cured cancer’, her blog and work was to share with others the lifestyle she had chosen to live. I think leaving the world happy and positively is a lot nicer way to go than to be stuck in a hospital room while chemo kills your cells one by one, she has dignity. If you don’t agree with her choice that is okay, that’s why there are options out there. Your words and insults are defamatory and insensitive, she is not a liar, she shared her life.

      • It’s impressive to me that a otherwise intelligent woman was so afraid of disfigurement that she took a radical, and seemingly painful approach to her treatment. I’m shocked that anyone can come here and wave their arms as though you illegitimately attacked her character. Frankly, the evidence of her knowledge, her knowing she was promising too much to a public eye, purposely misleading, was the moment she deleted your comment, and probably many others. I had to reply here, at least once… because I honestly couldn’t believe the influx of emotional, defensive and.. well childish reactions you are receiving. It appears that many of these commentators barely read this positing in it’s entirety. A pity, and such a shame what fear can do to otherwise rationally minded beings. Thank you for taking the time to write in your blog, it is something I enjoy reading/referencing daily. 🙂

    • Hi Bonnie, if you don’t have time to read the whole list, my personal favourite is Jessica’s tweet from 2011, where she explained that her book was about “how I cured my own cancer”. Yep, she said she cured her cancer.

      I don’t see how you can think that coffee enemas are more dignified than chemotherapy, but you are entitled to your opinion.

    • She has said that she cured it. Those words. This website has many examples of where and when she did. And anyway, even if she had NEVER said the word ‘cured’ it is still no damn excuse – many people including me were fooled by her talk and health claims and suffered because of it physically and financially. It’s no excuse whether or not she used certain words. This is a cop out of a defence from her and her ‘tribe’.

    • Another deluded fan Jess needs to be charged for not only misleading the public but for manslaughter for the many people blinded by her lies as she led them down the quackery road to their deaths.

  14. Being from Norway I had never heard of this woman or this story before. It was a very strong read indeed. Thank you for putting it out there. I am actually most upset over her mother dying and amazed people believe in this as a cure for cancer.

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  16. 18 months ago at the age of 42 I was diagnosed with Stage 1 Invasive Ductal Carcinoma (breast cancer) with no lymph node involvement. I had to have a mastectomy as well as radiation due to lack of clean margins. I was and still am a very healthy person…. normal healthy eater, athlete, non-smoker and very minimal (1 glass a month maybe) red wine drinker. After my diagnosis I was targeted by well meaning friends to look into and consider the Gerson Therapy as well as The China Study…. I read and watched all the movies and books available. I began to juice 5x a day and ate vegan out of FEAR that I had somehow caused this or could help cure myself. I will say that my super clean eating did help my energy levels during my 30 rounds of radiation. But never once did I consider not using science based medicine. These well meaning friends and family are now trying to convince me to stop taking tamofaxin with scare tactics about my future health. I am all for using food to stay healthy, but when it comes to cancer please listen to your oncologists. I wouldn’t be able to say that, “I have a 99% survival rate and should live a long full life” if I hadn’t trusted science based medicine!

  17. Thank You Rebecca, well said.
    Tamoxifen is a horror but I don’t care for the alternative.
    All the best for a long full life.

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  19. Reading the experiences shared by Liz and Rebecca where Jess Ainscough’s influence had a negative one makes me think #messedbyjess is just as true for many people.

  20. Poor young Jess… I was rooting for her. Maybe Gerson is fine, but having an uber-demanding career and tragically losing her mother were stresses she could not tolerate at this time in her life. Who really knows….. I love juicing and am using some of her suggestions to help manage my migraines. I enjoyed her blogs. My heart goes out to her father and brother.

    • “Gerson is fine but…”
      As with all natural health gurus: blame the patient, not the bogus treatment. Is that the mental gymnastics you all have to do in order to live with yourselves?

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    • We work with patients everyday (for 41yrs) as a charity sourcing best treatments for patients. Cancer untreated causes horrendous death – yes treatments have side effects though they are getting better. Cancer survival is improving every decade. EG: 15yrs ago Leukemia had 10% survival – in just 15 yrs that figure turned around = 90% survival. Yes mistakes are made in hospitals but at least they have systems in place. Alt/med is certain death as Jess and her mum (RIP) found out. Hi-tech modern med i the way to go – immunotherapies etc

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