How to save your own life.

December 11, 2013 was a golden day.  I remember it well, how sunny it was, the light that shone through the window and lit up my children’s hair as I looked at them in the rearview mirror.  I told them we would take them to the beach that night, and we talked about how much we were looking forward to santa, and our annual Christmas holidays.  It was a day so filled with promise.  It was, in fact, a LIFE filled with promise.

We never went to the beach that night.  Instead, the children marked their afternoon being minded by the staff in an endoscopy clinic, while a doctor showed my husband and I a photo of a large, obstructive, and he assured us, definitely malignant tumour in my bowel.  Further scans showed that it had jumped ship to my liver and the fight was almost certainly going to be unwinnable.

And just like that, I would never know another golden day.

A week later, I left the oncologists office with a plan – and a booking at the local chemotherapy unit.  While calm in manner, and kind, he pulled no punches.  We were talking about very advanced cancer, and if I didn’t respond to chemotherapy, my life expectancy would be measured in mere months…perhaps no more than 3.  Even with a good response, we were likely to be only talking about a year or two.

As someone with a genuine phobia of vomiting, I was scared all my life that one day I would get cancer and have to have chemotherapy.  Pure poison, that might give me a little longer in the lives of my children and those who love me, but would surely make me hairless, and haunted looking, and way too familiar with what the bottom of the toilet bowl looked like. I’ll be honest and say I wasn’t sure I could do it, but I looked at my four beautiful daughters, and the devastated face of the man who thought he would grow old with me by his side, and knew that do it, I must.

It’s not hard for me to imagine how it could have gone another way.  I could have come home that day, and a quick Google search on “how to cure your own cancer” would have taken me to the blogs and websites of “wellness warriors” like Belle Gibson, and Jess Ainscough.  I could have poured over the stories of these “inspirational women” for hours.  Both with diagnoses of terminal cancer, but none of the grey eyes and sallow skin, and carefully drawn on eyebrows.  These women GLOWED with vitality and health, their hair, all natural, shone, and their eyes twinkled.   In the desperate hours and weeks after I was diagnosed, while I came to terms with the imminent end of my life, it would have been so easy for me to believe that if these women cured themselves on a diet of whole food, kilos of vegetable juices a day, and a few litres of coffee up the clacker, so could I.  Maybe I didn’t have to have a plastic disc parked in my chest to deliver the poison.  Maybe I didn’t have to wake up to a pillow covered in hair.  Best of all, maybe I didn’t have to DIE.

It may be hard to believe that anyone could be that naive.  But let me tell you, there is nothing more compelling than a glimmer of hope offered by women with unlined hands and healthy nails, and seemingly the potential for long and healthy lives.  Woman who were once JUST LIKE YOU, pregnant with deadly malignancies.  Cured without one single bag of cytotoxic chemicals delivered into their bloodstream.

I didn’t seek an “alternative” path to cure my cancer, opting for what has been a brutal, but proven protocol to extend my life.  Because chemotherapy has “worked” for me, I have had 15 months of precious time, time that has allowed me to experience and enjoy and watch my children grow, and the potential is still there for much more time.

2015 has been a spectacularly bad year for the “wellness warrior”.  Jess Ainscough, who did have cancer, and opted to treat herself with the controversial “Gerson therapy”, is dead.  Jess’ mother, who eschewed conventional medicine that could have possibly saved her life, in order to follow her daughter into alternative therapies to cure her breast cancer, also two years dead.

Every bit as dead as i would be if I had not reported to that chemotherapy ward at 3 weekly intervals.

And what of Belle Gibson?  Well, Belle is not dead, because she was never dying.  Her terminal brain cancer that she had cured herself of, simply a figment of her imagination.  The lucrative wellness industry, born out of this lie, now lies in tatters.  Also in tatters, the lives, hopes and dreams of christ knows how many desperate souls who hung onto every word she said.

And that alone is the reason I can’t forgive Belle Gibson.  She would like us to see her as a victim…that a difficult childhood robbed her of her relationship with the truth, and indeed reality.  I like to think of myself as a compassionate person, and I can feel a little bit for her there.  Yep, she fucked up all right, but not for a few days, a few weeks, even a few months.  Nope, for years, she raked in the cash, through her wellness “business”, she raked in the cash by defrauding people and charities that didn’t know that she was collecting on their behalf and didn’t see a cent.  But the very worst thing that Belle did, by telling them how to save their own lives, was rob people of months and years of life that they might have had if they took the conventional path and time offered by cancer treatments that, while toxic, are proven to work.  And that is an absolute tragedy.

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28 Comments on “How to save your own life.

  1. Right on. Couldn’t agree with you more. Best of luck with your continued fight. I hope you live to see many more months and the further development of your kid/s!

  2. Women’s Weekly should put you blog next to the article, might give some pespective to whole I had a difficult childhood rubbish from that woman. Keep fighting, hope you get many more days and moths with your family.

  3. When I was diagnosed with a very aggressive tumour I remember being terrified of chemo, like you, the thought of vomiting, hair loss and numerous side effects frightened me, but in the end the terrible thought of leaving my children was always going to trump all my fears about chemo and I decided to put my trust in the people who study cancer and deal with it daily. I owed it to my children to throw all I could at my cancer! I feel so angry and upset at the thought of people taking advantage of others at their most terrified and vulnerable :(. So glad you’ve been able to live longer than first thought due to chemo! So so hoping it will continue on this way xx

  4. A blogger, mother and dealing with a real brain tumour myself ( although thankfully not malignant and counting my lucky stars) – you have really said this better then anybody ever could.

    <3

  5. Wow. What a strong and beautiful woman and mother you are. YOU are more inspiring than a field full of Belle Gibsons.

    Sharing this piece with everyone I know!

  6. I initially read this piece on the Sydney Morning Herald and wanted to wish you luck for your continued fight. I completely agree with your piece, do you know why she hasn’t been charged? I feel she is responsible for the deterioration of many lives and should be held accountable.

  7. Bravo! I’ll be sharing this far and wide. My mum is in your exact shoes right now…5 months in, 9 rounds of chemo, currently in hospital as sick as a dog, but fighting with all her might. More people like you & she need to write from the front lines of cancer treatment, where real, evidence based hope lies & pull the rug out from under these ridiculous, charlatan “wellness warriors” (Ugghh the arrogance!).

    15 months is amazing! I wish you many more & hope beyond hope we get as much with our mum too. Much love.

  8. Thank you for sharing your story .I’m struggling to understand it too , having 2 different malignant cancers in 18 months myself (Breast cancer and sarcoma in my leg).I opted for chemotherapy (BC) and radiation (Sarcoma) I know the feeling of looking into little faces and saying “whatever it takes”
    Also, I have friends with terminal cancer who’d do anything for more time with their young children .
    The speculation of a mental health excuse doesn’t sit easily with me – there far too much money involved . Why should those with mental health be blackened. Just do the math$$$$$$. It was a calculated lie to scam vulnerable cancer sufferers. I’m grappling that she is justifying the behaviour at all.
    I wish you more golden days with your family.

  9. My mother went bravely through 2 chemotherapy courses, chatting to other patients and cheering them for doing the right thing. It only prolonged her life but those 2 years were important for our whole family.
    I have read up to 70% of cancer patients are now, sometimes without telling their doctors, trying “alternative medicine” (quax) before or while they are getting actual treatments. It compromises their health. It also puts very desperate people in a situation where they will have unrealistic perspectives of their health and will not psychologically deal with death like they, and their family, so urgently need.
    You are an incredibly important voice in this debate. I agree with you on all points.
    All my best wishes for you and your family. Xx

  10. Reblogged this on Wine, Women & Wordplay and commented:
    This. This is why I cannot forgive Belle Gibson or any of her ilk, who make money off desperation with no care for the results. Real life and real science can only tell you the truth. Hard to compete with shiny, sexy lies…

  11. It’s just awful. After I was diagnosed with Stage 4 melanoma I researched every diet, herb, spice, powder, and treatment. I tried it all for a while. To not try it feels like you are giving up, it feels like you owe to to your family to try everything possible.
    Then I thought bugger it. I missed chocolate. I was miserable. I’d much rather die with a Freddo Frog in my mouth than coffee enema up my bum. But the guilt will always be there, and people will always ask what diet i do. It’s very very mentally, physically, and emotionally draining. And she made money off it. I feel really sad for her.

  12. I’m so sorry about your diagnosis, and I think you have every right to feel angry and appalled at Belle Gibson’s actions. There is no excuse for what she did.

    Best of luck with your treatment, and I wish you many more wonderful moments with your family.

  13. While it is easy to understand your point of view, and I certainly wish you all the best dealing with your difficult circumstances, but maybe we can differentiate between the person and what she did. As I commented on my own Facebook page, for me forgiveness is easy. Speaking personally, I feel deeply for Belle Gibson who in falsely claiming to have recovered from terminal cancer has lived out the most extra-ordinary lie. In doing so she misled many, tainted cancer charities widely, confirmed in at least one instance what lazy sceptics often fall back on generally – that remarkable cancer recoveries are “too good to be true” – and let many people down badly.
    So condoning what she did? Never. Saying it was OK? Never. Saying she will have major consequences to deal with? Certainly. But forgiveness? Easy!
    How sad to get to a point in life where doing such a thing seems OK and actually happens. While it is easy to recognise that what Belle did was abhorrent, I can only feel compassion for her as a person, and hope she is getting the help she needs.

    • HI Ian, I really appreciate your coming here to comment. I am not a particularly hard hearted person, and I am indeed led to wonder what bought Belle to this point. I just had a little chat with WHO magazine about this, and clearly stated that I wish no harm, bad karma, retribution, cancer, or any of those things on Belle, she is a mother, and her child needs her. However, I have not been personally impacted by her claims of curing herself of cancer, and I do very much worry that she has cost people their lives. You yourself did have a very serious form of cancer, so your teachings are to be respected….you walk the walk, rather than just talk the talk. Belle didn’t have to put herself on the line in any way, as she was not sick, and people who genuinely are have a right to be very angry about that. Thanks again for your comment, my heart skipped a beat when I saw your name!

  14. Pingback: To Your Good Health. | path: ethic.

  15. How can you have compassion for a person like that, those people trusted her, when they were in the most fragile period of their lives. Very, very sad! I understand your anger Jules.

  16. I just want you to know how far and wide your story has reached. I found you referenced on Essential Baby a few months ago and have followed you since. I love your frank, honest writing and check in frequently.

  17. I cried when I read this. I really hope you get lots more golden days. Please let me know if I can help in any way.

  18. Pingback: The Belle Gibson effect | Post-Viral Fatigue: Or What's wrong with me?

  19. Reblogged this on collette beck and commented:
    I’ve been following the Belle Gibson saga intently and have wanted to write about it since it unfolded. I just couldn’t quite bring myself to – as a mostly well person, I didn’t feel that I was qualified to comment. I was just a consumer who’d been hoodwinked – and not for the first time. But I found her actions deeply disturbing.

    I also followed Jess Ainscough, The Wellness Warrior, and when the email landed in my inbox announcing her passing, it took my breath away. The timing of it was eerie. I was in the car with my sister, on our way to the cemetery to intern our Mum’s ashes. She had died of cancer-related complications, eight weeks after getting the ‘all clear’.

    I’d spoken to Mum about combining possible alternatives with her chemo. Thankfully her pragmatism trumped my gullibility! But imagine if she had invested some hope in the opportunistic machinations of Belle Gibson!

    Jules from Four Fairies and a Fella captures all that I would have liked to say about this, eloquently and precisely.

    Read on for her response to the charlatan that is Belle Gibson.

  20. I have been following your story for some time now as it’s very similar to my own family. My wife was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer in August 2013. In addition to my wife having cancer we also have a child with severe cerebral palsy who has high care needs – we also have two daughters who and perfectly fine. All three are the light of our lives and with that comes a will to live and see them grow.

    We researched all treatments that were available and in the end opted to follow the traditional methods. My wife had 26 rounds chemo in total which included, FOLFOX: leucovorin, 5-FU, and oxaliplatin, FOLFIRI: leucovorin, 5-FU, and irinotecan and asastin. She also underwent a liver resection but the surgery was abandoned due to more cancer in the liver than initially diagnosed.

    In order to stop the cancer from progressing we tried Selective Internal Radiation Therapy (SIRT) which gave us more precious time together. The last treatment was a phase 1 drug trial which was unsuccessful and unfortunately my wife (Julie) past away in July 2015.

    When I read your article, I couldn’t agree with you more about Belle Gibson, she needs to meet the people who are battling cancer and undertake these treatments to try and extend their life’s to be with their families. To provide false hope is just not on and inexcusable – to have watched her on TV crying the victim – well I think that’s enough said.

    I wish you all the best and I sincerely hope that you have more precious time with your family, as the last two years my wife battled cancer were the best time we spend together, full of love and happiness which overshadowed the horrible side effects of cancer treatment.

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  24. My name is Kelly, I’m 66 years old, and I would like to share my amazing story with you.

    On January 18, 2000, after a severe headache prompted a CAT scan, a 3cm tumor was discovered in the left frontal lobe of my brain. I was 38 years old. My two daughters were ages 15 and 12. Immediate brain surgery was recommended by my surgeon.
    However, after further discussion, due to slow growth and no adjacent edema, he felt it would not be negligent to postpone surgery and monitor the tumor every 3 months with an MRI. The tumor remained stable for a little over three years then suddenly grew 25%.

    On September 4, 2003, on my husband’s birthday, I had surgery at Cedars Sinai in Los Angeles. I spent the next day, our 19th wedding anniversary in ICU. The pathology report came back an Oligodendroglioma grade 2. The surgery was an apparent success and neither radiation nor chemotherapy were recommended. However, since it’s unlikely every cancer cell can be detected and removed, and the nature of gliomas are to grow back over time, it was necessary to continue MRI monitoring every 3 months. Living from MRI to MRI had become our “normal”.

    All MRI reports remained stable until November 2013 when my quarterly MRI came back showing regrowth of the tumor. My brain surgeon in Los Angeles recommended 4-6 months of chemotherapy, and if that didn’t work, another brain surgery to go in and
    clean up the regrowth would be considered. He also gave me anti-seizure medication for auras that had started to manifest as
    strong unexplainable odors. My doctor described this experience as an olfactory seizure. While researching Charlotte’s Web
    cannabis oil as an alternative to the prescribed seizure medicine I also found out that cannabis oil was also showing promise as a cancer treatment and could be an alternative to chemotherapy.

    When Jillian came home for Christmas she and my husband, decided it was time for me to make a decision to do something. I wasn’t ready to decide anything just yet. I wanted to have Christmas with my family. The day after Christmas I made up my mind to drive out to California to investigate cannabis oil as a treatment. We read articles about successful brain tumor results in Spain and Amsterdam and gathered information wherever we could. We decided to give the cannabis oil a try, especially after we read a paper on a study about the chemotherapy my doctor had recommended. That study suggested patients
    with tumors like mine appeared to get better at first with the chemo but then the left over tumor cells would mutate and turn aggressive over time.

    After many conversations with my husband we decided to order 90-day cannabis treatment and MM Card was issue. the card was for cancer treatment amazingly, the cannabis oil has helped me with my fibromyalgia pain, joint pain, and chronic headaches. I had this pain for many years and it was getting worse. I literally have no pain now. My blood pressure had been creeping up over the years and was consistently pre-hypertensive, now it’s consistently on the low side of normal. I have not taken any other medication except the cannabis oil, supplements, and good clean healthy food over the last 8 months.

    In August, eight months after beginning the cannabis treatment, my MRI was reviewed by a leading Radiologist, my Neuro Oncologist, and my world renowned Brain Surgeon, and it was concluded that all that was remaining of the tumor regrowth was scar tissue. I will have another MRI in December. Because these tumors are chronic and tend to grow back, I will always be living MRI to MRI, but the key word here is that I am living …and in great health with a great immune system.

    By eating healthy food and walking every day we both lost a needed 35 lbs. I never experienced the dreaded “munchies” that some get on this medicine.Smoking marijuana is reported to have an appetite stimulating effect. When I built up a tolerance to the THC, even though I was ingesting large amounts, I did not get an intense “high” like what would happen if a person were smoking it. For me, it produced a deep sense of well being.

    Since concentrated cannabis oil with a high THC content is necessary to kill tumor cells it concerns me that the main talk in several states is to legalize CBD oil only. That is great news for seizures patients but denies treatment options for cancer
    patients, plus THC has so many other health benefits that shouldn’t be ignored.

    The evidence is rapidly stacking up on the healing properties of the Marijuana plant. I’m excited for the future of Medical Marijuana and I feel a strong responsibility to spread this information. I hear so many misconceptions about this amazing
    medicinal plant that I feel i need to tell my story to anyone who is interested and my prayer is that it will be received with an open mind and a compassionate heart. you can contact Phoenix Tears via email: phoenixtearsoil8@gmail.com or reach the team on Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/ricksimpsonoilcure/

    Many Blessings to All
    Kelly

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