Posted on April 22, 2015
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.