When, in 2008, Australian wellness writer Jessica (Jess) Ainscough was diagnosed with a rare disease called epithelioid sarcoma, it became clear that the cancer cells had grown throughout her left arm and shoulder.
Chemotherapy seemed to help, but within a year the cancer made a comeback, and Ainscough decided that, rather than undergo more chemo and possibly amputation, she would beat the odds with Gerson therapy: a “radical detoxification” regimen pioneered by a German doctor in the 1920s. For Ainscough, it entailed
… drinking 10 raw juices and undergoing five coffee enemas daily, as well as mineral supplements and sticking to a strict vegan diet.
Coffee enemas can cause numerous side effects, including infections, sepsis (including campylobacter sepsis), severe electrolyte imbalance, colitis, proctocolitis, salmonella, brain abscess, and heart failure. … Long-term use of coffee enemas can lead to malabsorption of fat, fat-soluble vitamins, and calcium. The use of coffee enemas has led to several deaths as a result of severe electrolyte imbalance, hyponatremia, dehydration, pleural and pericardial effusions.
None of that fazed Ainscough. She blogged with the firm conviction that she could find a shortcut to beating cancer.
The way I saw it I had two choices. I could let them chase the disease around my body until there was nothing left of me to cut, zap or poison; or I could take responsibility for my illness and bring my body to optimum health so that it can heal itself. For me it was an easy decision. I began looking at the different ways I may have contributed to the manifestation of my disease and then stopped doing them. I swapped a lifestyle of late nights, cocktails and Lean Cuisines for carrot juice, coffee enemas and meditation.
Late nights and cocktails (in moderation) aren’t known to cause cancer, nor does meditation force it into submission. But Ainscough wouldn’t hear it.
“I didn’t chop off my arm. I didn’t go into aggressive, full-body chemotherapy. I didn’t accept that my doctor’s ‘solution’ was the only course of action,” Jessica wrote on her blog. “I decided that I would do everything in my power to thrive in life, despite the looming expiration date I’d been given. I learned how to treat myself with absolute kindness & self-respect. “I radicalized my diet. I systematically detoxified my body — and mind. I discovered that wellness isn’t a destination, but a loving (and unconditionally forgiving) relationship with your own body.”
She’s no longer here to tell us why she thinks it didn’t work. Jessica Ainscough lost her battle on Thursday, at age 30.
Her website puts it differently, claiming that she’d been “thriving with cancer” for seven years.
Right up until the moment she died, I guess.
Her passing comes almost 18 months after her mother died of breast cancer. Sharyn Ainscough had followed her daughter’s lead, rejecting a medical team’s advice for the woo and wonder of Gerson therapy.
As you might expect, Max Gerson’s recommendations have never gained an ounce of credibility among oncologists and medical researchers.
[Australia’s] National Cancer Institute says: “Because no prospective, controlled study of the use of the Gerson therapy in cancer patients has been reported in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, no level of evidence analysis is possible for this approach. The data that are available are not sufficient to warrant claims that the Gerson therapy is effective as an adjuvant to other cancer therapies or as a cure.”
According to Quackwatch,
Gerson protocols have included liver extract injections, ozone enemas, “live cell therapy,” thyroid tablets, royal jelly capsules, linseed oil, castor oil enemas, clay packs, laetrile, and vaccines made from influenza virus and killed Staphylococcus aureus bacteria.
Almost two dozen “alternative” cancer therapies are listed and described here. They include ingesting wormwood, common cloves, licorice, ash bark, mistletoe extract, and powdered shark cartilage.
All of these sound perfectly effective for someone with cancer, provided the patient has a death wish.
As for Ainscough, it’s profoundly sad that such a radiant, vivacious, and obviously talented young woman has gone to an early grave. I trust that, in her 30 years on earth, she made lots of friends, inspired others with her strength and determination, and spread love as if it were going out of style.
But we shouldn’t skip over the fact that this, too, is Jess Ainscough’s legacy:
Over the years, she became quite the media figure in Australia, based on her many advantages for a media career. She was young. She was telegenic. She was very likable and soon became very media-savvy. Over seven years, she built up an impressive empire of “natural healing” modalities, enabled, of course, by credulous reporting. She wrote books. She appeared on television. She sold cookbooks, cooking supplies, and various other implements necessary for a “natural” lifestyle. … She also advocated eating clay to “detoxify” herself. …
Jess Ainscough was a seemingly unending fountain of woo, making Food Babe-like appeals to the “natural” over the “synthetic,” and promoting her version of “wellness.” … [I]n her promotion of Gerson quackery, Ainscough, with the noblest of motivations in the beginning, did harm and likely led some cancer patients down the path of quackery and preventable death.
(Thanks to Dave for the link)