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.   

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).

Jessica Ainscough passed away 26th February 2015

This evening, Jessica Ainscough’s partner informed her followers that she passed away on the 26th of February by sending out this notification:

FullSizeRender

I know many people will have a lot to say about her passing, but please, lets just pause and spare a thought for her family, friends and those who loved her. There will be a time for discussion about Gerson “therapy” and other details, I don’t think it is now.

My thoughts are with those who loved Jess and are hurting right now. 

Rosalie.

 

EDITED TO ADD:

To all the fans of Jess who have stopped by to share their thoughtful input, love and light,  vitriol and insults, you have now been published in this post. 

How not to do transparency. (Includes update on 26/09/2014)

This gallery contains 4 photos.

On February 24th this year Jess Ainscough wrote a blog post trying to defend her actions of deliberately misleading her followers about her condition. She admitted that ‘Gerson Therapy’  had not cured her cancer, however, she stopped short of explaining her … Continue reading

Why We Need to Search for the Truth in Cancer Cure Stories

I’d like to share this podcast about truth in cancer stories with you. It features Grace Gawler of The Grace Gawler Institute and ethicist Dr Julie Crews who happens to be a reader and commenter on this blog. 

Description:

 “Ethicist Dr Julie Crews takes an investigative look through the magnifying glass to examine new trends in cancer entrepreneurship where patients who are either still in recovery themselves or who claim they have beaten the odds without medical evidence, are influencing the treatment choices of millions of other cancer patients around the globe. Another group of patients influencing choices are those who have had adequate medical treatment for their cancer, but then champion their ‘cure’ to the use of dietary regimens, alternative medicine, meditation and other healing forms. Authentic hope is a powerful ally, but false hope as a recent article published in the West Australian suggests, provides More Hype than Hope. Dr Crews contributed to that media piece. If asked about buying a product in a store – do we accept being lied to about its efficacy? In cancer the stakes are high-do we want lies or truth? The search for truth in healing stories is imperative for patients whose lives really depend upon it.”

I hope you enjoy it. Dr Crews raises many important issues. Click here to listen.

Transparency, Misquotes and False Conclusions.

Last week The ‘Wellness Warrior’ wrote a blog post which contained the following statements:

” it concerns me that many people who are my target audience are being presented with a false account of the state of my health, who I am and what I’m about.”

and;

“I’ve never claimed to have cured myself (if you’ve seen this written online or in the media it’s because I have often been misquoted – these kinds of statements are false conclusions made by the author, not misleading information from me).”

I’m not sure what happened here then:

Jess cure 1

Thanks so much guys! Dani, the book is about natural health and healing, living a Wellness Warrior lifestyle and how I cured my own cancer. I can’t wait until its done. x

jess cancer 22

If you happen to pick up the paper today, flip to the Body + Soul lift out and check out a story about a young girl beating cancer with food – aka ME!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

she also said; “I need to increase the transparency I have with my tribe. If you ever looked at my website for anything other than ways to condemn me, you would see that authenticity is my highest value.”

In a token effort to address the issue of being misquoted, sometime between then and now Jess or someone on her team managed to sneak a small but still kind of misleading correction into this article in the Sydney Morning Herald. The description of her condition in the article has been changed from “in remission” to “in recovery mode” without any clarification. A correction brought about by pressure from outside no doubt, but its a start. 

I’ve been waiting for her to be more transparent with her ‘tribe’ since that blog post. I’m sure she is going to stop claiming that the issue with her arm is lymphedema, or a ‘flare up’ (whatever that means) and tell her ‘tribe’ about the worsening condition of her arm and the progression of the cancer in it any day now. While I’ve been waiting I’ve been looking at articles where she has been ‘misquoted’ or where ‘false conclusions have been made by the author’, and I’ve made a list of them. By the way, do you like how she threw most of the people who have ever written about her right in the path of a bus there? ‘False conclusions made by authors.’ THWACK! That was the bus hitting you guys for writing about her without seeing through her inferences and lies by omission. Although, writing about the reality of the situation earns one the label of ‘bully’, so it’s a no win situation. 

Before we move on to the list, it is worth reiterating here that Jess’ cancer, Epithelioid Sarcoma is a slow growing cancer and the fact that she is alive today is unremarkable. In fact, if she is still alive ten years post diagnosis that will be unremarkable too. It is even conceivable with such an indolent cancer that Jess will still be alive 15 years post diagnosis. (I actually hope she is, I don’t wish her to die young.) However, the length of her life will be a result of the type of cancer she has and not that of juices and coffee enemas. I’d also like to say that should Jess ever be able to produce evidence from a medical oncologist that she is free of cancer, be it next month or in 15 years, I will write RETRACTED all over the blog posts about her and issue a formal apology.

"Oh no! What have they found?"

“Oh no! What have they found?”

So here is my list. These are the ‘misquotes’ and ‘false conclusions made by authors’ I found in a rather short time on google.

1. The first one is the introduction on Jess’ Google+ profile. I’m not sure if she has been misquoted here, or if the author has made a false conclusion. I think it might be the latter.

“Hey there! I’m Jess Ainscough and I’m a writer, blogger, holistic health coach, cancer survivor, and the creator of the online wellness sanctuary, The Wellness Warrior”

2. News.com.au. June 24, 2013 “The holistic health coach, who was in Byron Bay last week, follows a strict organic diet after overcoming cancer without using modern medicine.

3. The Urban List. January 17, 2013  “I’m the creator of a website called TheWellnessWarrior.com.au, where I share my cancer recovery story.

4. The Raw Food Institute of Australia. January 29, 2014 “…using the world recognized Gerson therapy with outstanding results.

5. Wellness Mamma.  She is a writer, holistic health coach, and cancer survivor (she did it naturally!).

6. Rock Stock Living. Febuary 5, 2014.  “well not only by age 28 is she a cancer survivor, she predominantly treated it naturally.”

7. The Warwick Cancer Foundation. “As a young adult cancer survivor…”

8. Woman’s Day. September 7, 2011 “This therapy worked for me, and now it is working for my mother who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer.”

9. SMH Life & Style.  Feb 2 2014 “…has been in remission for four years.” and ”In conventional language I’m in remission,” Ainscough says. “But I will be healing forever. It’s a permanent process.”

10. Natural News:  Nov 6, 2012. “Cancer Survivor” and “Discover how Jessica has kept her cancer away and what she does now to ensure it doesn’t come back.”

11. Good Being. Sept 15, 2013  “Overcame Cancer

12. whosyour.com. “I’m the creator of a website called The Wellness Warrior, where I share my cancer recovery story.

13. Fertilise Yourself. September 24, 2012. “Jess is an ah-mazing woman who has healed herself of cancer.”

14. Pauline Hanuise Holistic Health and Recovery Coaching. January 9, 2013. “she shares her cancer recovery story.

15. Alison Smith PhD. July 3, 2013. “Jessica, better known as The Wellness Warrior herself, is a beautiful Aussie, who fought cancer and won using the Gerson Diet: a protocol that cures cancer naturally

16. Move, Nourish, Believe. Jan 24, 2013. “she is a cancer survivor who (by embracing health, wellness and love) saved her own life and inspired hundreds and thousands of others in the process.”

17. IUV. June 27, 2013 “I realized I was more than a ‘cancer success story’ — I was a leader, a role model, an educator, and a champion.”

18. Cancer Fact or Fiction. October 21, 2013 “Jessica Ainscough has a hugely successful Blog The Wellness Warrior, why not check it out to learn more about How to survive Cancer with the Gerson therapy.”

19. Earth Events. “… five years of lessons that have not only saved my life…”

20. Mind Body Green. July 12, 2010 “Conquering Cancer with Carrot Juice” and “The therapy gets some seriously amazing results and I cannot wait until I can count myself as one of it’s success stories.”

21. Salt. Winter 2013 “Now cancer free

22. Motion Magazine. May 16, 2013 “faced and overcome one of the greatest evils in life, cancer.

23. Organicness. June 2, 2013 “cancer survivor

24. Farm Online. January 29, 2014 “Now 28, Jess has been in remission from cancer for almost six years

25. Life & Style. January 30, 2014. “Jess’ cancer survival story is a controversial one, but it certainly worked for her.” and “Jess, now 28, has been in remission from cancer for six years…”

26. Love Driven Prints. Feb 8, 2012 “A blogger in Australia named Jessica Ainscough details how she saved her own arm from amputation using the Gerson therapy as well. You can read all about it on her site, The Wellness Warrior.”

I found this one is particularly upsetting. A woman with metastatic breast cancer in her lung, liver, spine, ribs, pelvis and brain is asking for donations to fund a $11,000+ expenses trip to a Gerson retreat and cites Jess as a compelling reason for going. She didn’t go to Gerson because they wouldn’t take her, so she tried another restrictive, nonsense diet and supplement regime to no avail. Sadly, Lillian passed away in June 2013.

Moving on from google, I looked at the online book listings for Make Peace With Your Plate, the book recently authored by Jess and published through Hay House. Within a few minutes I had found no less than six listings for he book that contained the following;

“Six years on, following a complete change in lifestyle, diet and mindset, she is cancer-free and thriving.”

Booktopia blog   Penguin Books   Boffin Bookshop  Angus and Robertson  Fishpond and Bookworld.

In total, I found 32 instances where the takeaway message is that Jess has cured herself, and it took minimal effort on my part to find those. Something is very wrong here if so many individuals are getting the same incorrect message from what Jess says and the information she provides. If you know of any other examples that aren’t on the list, do post them in the comments and I will update the list.

So, Wellness Warrior team, there are 32 more corrections you need to make. I hope having them all detailed here with the relevant links will assist you in being able to do this.

You’re welcome.

The following examples have been provided by readers since this post was published. Thanks everyone for your input.

33. In this video, Jess herself says at 0.30 “For the past eighteen months, I have been curing myself of cancer using a natural healing modality called Gerson Therapy.” 

34. delvespot.com. July 25, 2012  [Interviewer] “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.

35. Dolly. January 6, 2012 “I am ecstatic to report that it has worked for me.”

36. The Gerson Institute. January 27, 2012  “Why I owe my life to Gerson” and “I can visibly see the Therapy healing the tumors I had in my arm.”

37. thewellnesswarrior.com.au. June 12, 2011. “I will be getting up on my soap box to share my story about how I am curing myself of an “incurable” sarcoma.”  

The ‘Wellness Warrior’ on Immunisation.

I really don’t want this blog to be all about the ‘Wellness Warrior’, and I never intended it to be but as far as health nonsense and health misinformation go (and that is to be the focus of the blog), she is the gift that keeps giving.

This morning, someone sent me thisThe ‘Wellness Warrior’s’ thoughts on immunisation. The whole post is dangerous ignorance in the extreme.

For more than 200 years, the use of vaccines has been instrumental in reducing the burden of many infectious diseases. Immunisation has been demonstrated to be a safe and effective public health intervention, and worldwide it has been estimated that immunisation programs prevent approximately 2.5 million deaths each year. The global eradication of smallpox in 1979, near elimination of poliomyelitis and global reduction in other vaccine-preventable diseases, are model examples of disease control through immunisation. Here in Australia we have one of the most comprehensive publicly funded immunisation programs in the world, and as a result of successful vaccination programs, many diseases no longer occur, or are extremely rare in Australia.

Immunisation not only protects individuals, but also protects others in the community by increasing the overall level of immunity in the population and thus minimising the spread of infection. This concept is known as ‘community immunity’ or ‘herd immunity’. The ironic thing about this ‘Wellness Warrior’ post is that immunisation by way of community immunity, protects people like Jess and her fellow cancer patients. People undergoing chemotherapy for example need the protection of the community to keep them safe from vaccine preventable diseases, yet here is Jess discouraging people from participating in the most important and effective public health initiative of our time.

By her own admission, Jess is “not really that educated on the issue” however that doesn’t stop her from sharing the report, the things that ‘shocked’ her, and urging her readers to “come to their own conclusions” about immunisation after reading it. That is first class “research” right there; read from one dubious information source and make a decision. The purpose of her information source, the International Medical Council on Vaccination  is to oppose vaccination, deny the safety and efficacy of vaccines and to spread fear and misinformation about vaccines. The board of directors includes known anti-vaccination liars Suzanne Humphries and Sherri Tenpenny. Jess’ use of this dubious group and Natural News as a source illustrates her inability to discern what is or isn’t a credible source of information, and her tendency to search the Internet for ‘information’ that agrees with her preconceived ideas and accept it as true.

Thank goodness the vast majority of folks are sensible and immunise themselves and their children. Vaccine refusal is a dangerous first world privilege, and those who promote it would do well to keep in mind that as they convince people to opt out of immunisation programs, they lower community immunity levels, and their own protection as a result.

It is her prerogative to ‘treat’ her own illness with unproven methods that don’t work. But to try to influence people not to use a proven method to prevent disease with a “report” that even a person with a basic knowledge of vaccines could see for the nonsense that it is, is unforgivable.

People who understand what life is like without vaccines, happily make every effort to get them.

People who understand what life is like without vaccines, happily make every effort to get them.