Let This Be A Lesson

In this post, written in February 2014, I threw out a challenge to the media to dig a bit deeper and report on the actual story of Jessica Ainscough and her story of vegetable juices, coffee enemas and cancer survival. I wrote:

“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.”

It would only have taken a scratch on the surface to reveal that all was not as it seemed, but no one bothered. The media reported her story, as told to them by Jess, without question. Until she died, then there was quite a few articles examining the futility of the treatments she chose to undertake. Too little too late though, that same media had already made into a minor celebrity as “the girl who cured her cancer”.

Over the past few weeks another ‘amazing cancer survivor’ Bell Gibson is taking a fall from grace with revelations that her cancer story appears to have been a lie. At the time of writing Ms Gibson is yet to provide evidence that she ever had brain cancer, and has suggested that the other four types of cancer that she claimed to have developed were ‘misdiagnosed’.
Penguin Books has pulled her “The Whole Pantry” recipe book off the shelves in Australia, and the app with the same name has been quietly removed from the app store. 

I like what Media Watch had to say on the issue:

“Now what’s remarkable about Belle’s remarkable story is that no one who swallowed it apparently bothered to check it was true.

Not the publishers at Penguin. Nor the chaps at Apple. Nor a parade of media admirers at The Sunday Telegraph, News.com.au, Cosmopolitan, Australian Women’s Health, Marie Claire, Elle, and Channel Seven’s Sunrise among others.

So when you see a story like this in future, whether you’re a journalist or a reader, it’s worth remembering this tip from the ABC’s health expert Dr Norman Swan, who told Media Watch: “The general rule in health and medical journalism is the same as any other form of journalism, if it sounds too good to be true, it is.”

Bell shares her story on Sunrise.

Bell shares her story on Sunrise.

I couldn’t have put it any better myself. I hope that media take stock and learn from this embarrasing situation. The consumers of Australian media deserve better. They deserve due dilligence in health reporting.   

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Fan Mail From The Wellness World

It has been one hell of a week around here. When the news broke last Friday that Jess Ainscough had passed away from the cancer she attempted to cure with Gerson ‘Therapy’, I took a few moments to pause and reflect on what the response should be on this blog. I decided to acknowledge her passing with this brief post, but to give her loved ones  respect and space by not making comment on their loss at this time. We all know what it is like to lose someone we love, and I did not want to exacerbate their pain in any way.

But then, fans and followers of Jess started googling her name and found this blog in their thousands. I guess considering the amount of traffic that has been here this week,  the amount of unpleasant and nonsensical comments left is actually quite low. In any case, there has been too many of these comments to keep up with and moderate so I have numbered and collated them in one document for anyone who cares to spend their time reading the whole 25 pages of them, and I’ll share a few highlights here. One comment in particular sums up exactly how nefarious Gerson ‘Therapy’ is. Put simply, by ‘France ‘ (comment #98): if it doesn’t work, its your own fault.

“If it didn’t work for you, it is because you have done something wrong or because it is not working for you. Jess has stopped the ferson (sic) therapy 2 years before she passed away and used other natural treatments. The gerson therapy is powerful. It is helping a lot of people out there. It is dangerous when it is not done properly like you probably have. No need to blame the therapy for your own mistakes.”

The comments generally fitted into the following categories, and I have included some excerpts for your reading pleasure. You can use the numbers to locate the full comments in the document here.

1. Outright insults and abuse, some even included passive aggressive ‘concerns’ or ‘well wishes’ for my troubled self.

Bex: (6) “Cold, heartless person u are.”

Bec: (7) “You should be absolutely disgusted with yourself, people like u make me sick.”

Drmschafer: (8) “What a horrible human being… Your ignorance and hate are what’s wrong in this world.

John: (96) “you are a complete troll utter gutter crap fuck off with your big pharma deluded nonsense”

Sarah: (13) “My sympathy to you for the hurt you must be experiencing in your life causing you to want to take it out on others around you.”

And finally, Kate (15). She wins ‘best on ground’ for the insults section with this sterling effort:

“You are a Dog shit person.”

 

2. People who miss the point (being the spread, and profiting from health misinformation and the concealment of her actual condition), and think the issue is Jess’ freedom to make her own personal medical decisions.

Deborah (31) “Last time i checked Australia was a democracy were people are free to take whatever medical journey they choose. “

Nichola (32) “Jess exercised her right to choice. To judge this is absurd. “

Cat: (38) “Why the outrage – are we a democratic society – do we not have choices available to us? Why vilify someone for their medical choices?…”

Kate (39) “Honestly how dare anyone judge Jess and her choices…. She had every right to make choices for her body and her life.”

 

3. People who thought Jess had never made any claims about being in the process of curing, or having cured herself.

I moderated most of those through and responded with a link to this post detailing all the instances I could be bothered finding of her making such claims.

4. Fans of alternatives to medicine or those with  anecdotes about cancer ‘cures’.

Jim: (30) “…people die from cancer. Even people who choose only conventional treatment – thousands die undergoing medical treatment for cancer just as they do with natural therapies. This is not an excuse to discredit natural therapies. There is a place for both natural and conventional treatments in cancer.”

Grahame (34) “Alternative therapies do work but it’s not a magic bullet for every case.”

Katie (44) “Nutrition CAN reverse many cancers and truly has. I have no experience with the Gerson therapy, but my aunt cleared cervical cancer that threatened to take her cervix and uterus in 1990 by eating a raw vegan diet, taking supplements, quitting smoking, quitting caffeine etc.”

 

5. People wanting to tell me how unsuccessful or bad conventional treatment is, how evil doctors and pharmaceutical companies are.

Mike (37) ” Ive stopped my melanoma with quakery… open your eyes to GP system and Big Pharma..you are blind to death by chemicals….”

Gisele (50) “Right, because every cancer patient treated with chemotherapy did survive… It is sickening that people prefer to throw a chemical bomb into their body in the hope to stay alive… CHEMICALS!”

Anon (61) ‘I don’t want to knock doctors here – I believe they truly want the best for their patients but at the end of the day they are obsequious to the drug companies who peddle chemicals to treat cancer. Can’t make money from a carrot juice can you? So there’s no incentive for them to promote it or test it? You can’t blame them either, they have shareholders who need a return – that’s just way the world works.”

Elk (78) “Why not pick on the non successful Chemo, Surgery and Radiation treatments which only serve greedy multi-national pharmaceutical corporations and radiotherapy corporates who make huge profits while patients who choose these treatments suffer terrible side effects. Sadly the medical establishments dont want to know about alternative treatments and instead pander to greed when it comes to cancer.”

B.D (93) “for those of you who think the Oncologists and Surgeons have all the answers and have your best interest at heart, I hope you never have to find out how foolish you are.”

 

Then there was Michael (46) who simply asked “Rosalie, who pays you?”

Because I couldn’t possibly have an opinion without someone telling me what it is and paying me to express it. Right?

And when I failed to moderate all this nonsense through, then came the cries of “CENSORSHIP!”

Pomona (55-59) “I bet you don’t publish my comments ! You appear to only publish those comments that are in line with your ‘ideal’ world & agenda.”

“Just curious ???? Where’s the comment I posted half an hour ago ????? Didn’t you like it ??????

I guess It’s too controversial ,its SAD as too many people are afraid to talk about what I just commented on (shame I wasted my Sunday afternoon writing to you). Please post it ! I’m sharing some very important TRUTHS !”

Cayley (73) “wow you are just as selective with with comments you publish – and you cpmpain to Jess about deleting yours. Seriously this is not cool. Dont you have the guts to publish my comment because you know its the truth.”

Toni (75) “Interesting how comments against Rosalies beliefs are not showing…”

I had to chose an overall winner, I think the prize would go to Sarah (42) for her armchair psychiatry. Enjoy:

“…the explanation for these people’s apparent complete lack of compassion toward another human being that has made the most sense to me is the research brought forward by leading psychologists and the National Institute of mental health. Having studied psychopathy in depth, they claim to have come to the conclusion 1 in 100 people have psychopathic, sociopathic tendencies. This can be as simple as an inability to feel empathy for others.

If you research these tendencies, it begins to make sense how the majority of us feel a deep sadness for the loss of Jess and an immense compassion her family, and others, seemingly a small minority, display a complete lack of empathy instead choosing to cause further harm. We cannot understand how they see no problem with their behavior however we don’t know that they have the capacity to feel this compassion. It makes it easier not to take it so personally. People with these tendencies have brains that are wired differently. they don’t know what they don’t have the capacity to feel. This post is not intended to cause offence, it is presented for consideration of a very real problem. The concern is the damage inflicted by these people in our communities as demonstrated by pages such as this. …”

 

So these folks are the kind of folks who watched Jess waste what time she had left on this earth following restrictive diets and pointless rituals. They cheered her on in their smug, superior, ‘knowledge’ that they all knew better than science and medicine, thinking she was infallible due to this superior ‘knowledge’. What they actually did was enabled and encouraged a young woman to squander the only chance she had. Jess may have made different choices if she didn’t have legions of google ‘researchers’ wellness warriors cheering on her every foolish utterance. She may have made the same choices. We don’t know.

What we do know is that the wellness industry isn’t quite as full of positive, vibrant, healthy souls full of love and light as they would have us think. The mail received here in the past week is evidence of that.

Even more predictable is they way The Gerson Institute washed their hands of her with this tweet.

Screen Shot 2015-03-08 at 7.15.26 pm

They took $5,500 per week, for three weeks to host Jess at their institute and convince her that she could  cure her cancer with their ridiculous regime. They used her in publicity and she raved about them endlessly, no doubt raising their profile in Australia. Just like all health charlatans though, once it became apparent their quackery doesn’t work they pulled out the tried and tested method of blaming the victim. These people have blood on their hands, but most certainly no conscience weighing them down.

 

Edited to add: The Gerson Institute have issued a defence of their therapy tribute to Jess. Apparentley their ‘therapy’ isn’t a cure now, and it “can’t save everyone”. But they think it is important that people are free to chose pointless, expensive ‘treatments’ that won’t help them. Yup. No conscience at all. (Thanks to Alice for the tip).