For those of you who haven’t heard of Jessica Ainscough, she was a young girl of 23 who contracted a rare type of cancer called Epithelioid Sarcoma in her left arm. After trialing an intense type of chemotherapy in the arm, which didn’t work, she rejected her doctor’s other form of treatment of amputating the arm and shoulder as they advised that it wouldn’t cure it completely but may extend her life somewhat.
She decided that wasn’t good enough and spent the next 7 years researching, trying and living alternative therapies namely the fairly extreme Gerson Therapy which involved hourly fresh juices and multiple coffee enemas a day. She was a writer and so a blog followed, books, media appearances and with her sunshine, bubbly nature and wholesome message, amassed quite a following. And now at age 30 she has passed away.
It’s incredibly heartbreaking for her friends and family as well as her followers who agreed with her healthy lifestyle philosophies and as a natural health follower myself, I can’t help but be a bit shaken by it all.
However apart from offering sympathies and respect to her loved ones which is important at this time, there is a message I would like to offer to those who do have cancer now and who are still working through it – as they are likely to be more bewildered than I about her passing, while contemplating their own mortality.
One of the dangers of being extremely passionate about something is to be blindly passionate at the exclusion of all else. I was like this myself in my younger days, when I found something that worked for me, I declared it to be ‘the answer’ to everyone’s problems and ran around telling people off for their food choices or lifestyle choices, under the belief I was helping them.
Through life experience though, I found my beliefs clearly not to be right for everyone else and in fact my own beliefs shifted over time and so this is why I despair over the current conventional vs alternative medicine head butting, especially in regards to Jess.
Cancer is an insidious disease, so many different forms, affecting people in different ways. So if we care about the suffering person at all, I believe it requires a joining of forces – pulling out the best of the best – as a united front, to fight it together.
Some positive strides are being made in conventional medicine where those with certain types of cancer are having better a survival rate but many are still dying too – so it can’t be held up as a poster boy for success by any means.
And those using alternative therapies seem to work in some instances too and not in others. So neither is fool proof.
But both sides revert to name calling such as ‘quakery’ and expressing anger at the other but what a waste of time and energy and whom does it help?
On the alternative side we hear heart-warming stories where diet and changes to lifestyle have improved many people’s health, reversing all kinds of illnesses that people have been suffering with for years. I am thinking of the recent autism story shared by Pete Evans on his facebook page and Sarah Wilson improving her autoimmune symptoms with her no sugar crusade. Both are ridiculed for their lack of formal qualifications but again what a waste of energy. People are feeling better, they are glowing with health, it’s changing their lives for the better.
Back to cancer specifically, I personally know people who took the conventional route with their cancer and had it removed and had chemo etc and they have survived and are still here today without any real changes to their lifestyle. Let’s hear more of these stories!
My mother in fact had hormone driven breast cancer and placed her feet in both camps – conventional and alternative – having the lump removed, taking their hormone drugs but also supplementing with mega doses of vitamins, green smoothies, moving to a more plant based diet, no sugar, no alcohol. Which therapy cured her? Who cares, what matters is she is still here today 8 years later feeling better than she did 20 years ago. Totally a joint effort.
So if we have any chance at all against the Big C, my honest belief is the answer is in the joining of forces. For those suffering now, get a number of opinions from conventional doctors and naturopaths who specialise in this area. Have the tests and know exactly what you are dealing with, do regular check ups to see which way the tide is turning. The whole person – mind, body and spirit – is involved in this thing and it needs everybody’s help from all sources. And then we may have a fighting chance. Our lives depend on it.
Rest in Peace Jess – thanks for all the sunshine you brought us in your short life.