Posted by: malechallengemedia | November 27, 2011

Mum’s not having Chemo – Increase in Alternative Medicine Cancer Deaths #1

I’m a director of a cancer solutions charity in Queensland, Australia. In the last few years we’ve been seeing an astronomic rise in deaths from patients using alt/med treatments alone.

Our founder, Grace Gawler has spent nearly 4 decades helping cancer patients build survival strategies. In all of the 13,000 + patients she has worked with, she HAS NOT SEEN A SINGLE RECOVERY DUE TO ALT/MED ALONE. Rather she has seen many alt/med casualties – too many casualties, as have I in my short 4.5 years helping Grace in her work.

Well intentioned blogs like ‘Mum’s not having Chemo’ can fan the wildfire of alt/med cures spreading the world – the plethora of internet claims like ‘cure cancer now,’ ‘read my book and be cured like thousands before you,’ ‘curing cancer’ is easy and so on.

These promotions are very dangerous as those working with cancer patients know. The miracle claims on the net don’t stack up with our experience nor that of our colleagues in Australia and Europe.

Yet the blog in question, Laura Bond’s ‘Mum’s not having Chemo,’ a blog clearly written with love by the daughter who has spent hundreds of hours researching treatments, is wildly inaccurate.

As one medical colleague said, “it’s misleading, dangerous and a mess.”  Worse than that, the Adelaide Advertiser wrote a weekend feature about the alt/med choices of the mum, Gemma Bond and the daughter’s efforts to help her.

It is titled ‘Why a Brave Mum said no to Chemotherapy   – full article

We have written and phoned the paper to rectify the article. Perhaps they may not know of the increase in alt/med deaths that we and our colleagues witness. I hope they respond!

I have also posted caring but informative comments on the daughter’s blog but these have been removed. I have emailed her but she has not replied. Blinded by her ideology, she obviously can’t allow any debate despite my compassionate emails and comments.

She does not seem to understand that she is not medically trained; that there is a moral obligation not to promote the types of alt/med treatments that are killing thousands of cancer patients each year in Australia. Although the intention behind her blogs may be well meaning, materials that influence desperate cancer patients to chose alt/med treatments that kill them are deadly whatever way you look at it.

Dr Ian Musgrave, PhD, a molecular pharmacologist who works at the University of Adelaide in South Australia said of the blog, “I don’t want to denigrate the experience of the author and her mother, but in trying to explain why her mother chose alternative medicine, a lot of factually incorrect or misleading information is presented by the author.” His full article is very revealing – click here. (you may have to scroll down to find it)

Amanda Hordern, director of the Cancer Council Victoria’s information and support helpline, says the line is fielding an increasing number of calls from people who believe they can heal their bodies by undergoing restrictive dietary regimes, such as consuming 10 kilograms of juiced fruit and vegetables a day, eliminating dairy and meat, taking high doses of vitamin supplements or eating shark cartilage and having coffee enemas.

She says of the 600 calls about nutrition last year, many were from cancer patients convinced an extreme diet could cure them. ”I’ve spoken to people who have mortgaged their houses looking for this wonder cure. I’ve heard of $20,000 retreats where people go away and are taught how to have alternative diets that are unproven. ”People have asked us for financial assistance to pay for funerals because they’ve lost absolutely everything in pursuing the elusive hope and it hasn’t worked,” Dr Hordern told The Sunday Age.

Dr Hordern has received many calls from relatives of cancer sufferers who have followed unorthodox diets with tragic results. ”I remember a man whose wife had recently died from very advanced breast cancer. He said to me with absolute agony and desperation in his voice, ‘My wife was so sure that this wonder treatment was going to work.’ It was a really extreme, alternative therapy with coffee enemas and a cleansing detoxifying diet recommended by a naturopath. In the end she was so wasted, had lost so much weight and he was really angry. He felt that he had been robbed of the last month of her life.”

Dr Ian Haines, medical oncologist at Cabrini Health, is open to his patients making changes to their diet if they are not too extreme, and says it can provide a placebo effect. He says confusion about what to eat is a big problem: ”Once someone gets diagnosed with cancer they get six or 10 different books on curing cancer from all variety of sources, so they’re absolutely flooded with mixed messages. There is no magic solution out there, moderation is probably the best answer we have in 2010.” Read more:

I’ll write more about this topic until we see a change in this terrible trend, a trend fanned by well meaning but untrained and unexperienced people.

Working closely with patients as we do, who have come too late to us because they fiddled around with alt/med (like Steve Jobs) – it is simply heart breaking to witness the preventable deaths of good but misguided patients. That is why we get up early to write.

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