18 April 2012

TB or not TB – The Age gives me a voice

After another article printed in The Age Monday 16th debating whether I did or did not have secondary cancer, or whether it actually was TB all along, happily they accepted and printed my reply as an Opinion piece. Here is the link. They called it "Article an insult to doctors who diagnosed my cancer'.

But there is more! I am being interviewed again today for another feature on the story scheduled for the Saturday Age. It is amazing how much interest this is generating.

This is a good time to be sending letters to the editor as they are taken seriously and can help to inform opinion. Also, maybe this is a good link to share with your friends on Facebook and Twitter - if you are on it!

This is an extra blog for this week; scroll down if you have not already seen the main blog that explains why you may be paid to meditate.

Also, I have added with permission a comment that seems to warrant wider readership than maybe just in the Comment section:

I recently saw the report on ACA featuring cancer survivor and integrative medicine advocate, Ian Gawler and a Dr Lowenthal, an oncologist.

I have to say that I am dismayed and appalled at, as I understand it, the apparent lack of acceptance by too many allopathic practitioners of all that cancer patients can do for themselves beyond allopathic medicine.

When I was diagnosed over 3 years ago with systemic metastatic renal cell carcinoma, I felt very much in an information vacuum. Treatment options open to me included neither surgery nor radiotherapy, and whilst chemotherapy had in the past shown mediocre success with mRCC, a relatively new drug, Sutent, albeit with unrelentingly unpleasant side effects, was showing promise. The options are few, and 'unfriendly'.

Oncology offered me at that difficult time no advice of integrative therapies, of the importance of taking control, emotional health optimization (especially combating fear and demystifying cancer), the importance of relaxation techniques, meditation, healing visualization/imagery, exercise and breathing, spiritual connection, vegetarian & optimization of diet (beyond a 'balanced' one - whatever that is??), nutritional juicing, eradication of toxins (dietary and emotional), consultations with empathetic 'holistic' GPs, positive hope (in recognition of the real evidence of many thousands of 'spontaneous' remissions of diverse cancer types and stages within Australia and around the world), and the valuable literature and audio bank out there describing how greatly cancer patients can assist themselves! I had to find that out myself over the past 3+ years.

I began my quest with Ian Gawler's program and follow it to this day, plus some refinement appropriate to my personal circumstances. Suggesting that Ian Gawler's recovery was due to fringe procedures such as coffee enemas and psychic surgery is like saying Easter is actually about chocolate eggs and Christmas is about Santa - it completely misrepresents the true story.

I cannot fathom the purpose of detractors of integrative treatment models. Bolstering public faith in traditional allopathic medical treatments? Pointless, unless cancer patients are voluntarily opting out, which, since options are limited and their hopes are sky high, would not be so. Dismantling 'false hope'? No such thing. So why deny cancer sufferers tentatively hopeful confidence invested in an integrative treatment model, and benefits that may derive from it. Why discredit Gawler's vital work and its proven benefits, and, thereby, that of others like him (witness the books, 'Surviving Cancer - Inspiring Stories of Hope and Healing'; 'You Can Conquer Cancer'; 'You Can Beat The Odds'; 'Living Simply with Cancer'; 'Life, Happiness and Cancer' and many other survivors' accounts - in which the common theme is patient willpower, control, determination, open-mindedness, and, ultimately, success!). Allow us the hope, if not of complete remission, if not of tumour regression, if not even of stability, at least allow us the hope of the human spirit in trying!

Neither oncology, not its allopathic god, indeed nobody, yet has a cogent answer for the occurrence of so-called 'spontaneous' remissions. That traditional allopathic medicine could be still so rigidly shackled to its marvellous yet limited science, and allow absolutely nothing beyond it (actually, I suspect many allopathic practitioners are swaying toward integrative mind-body wisdom) including by cancer patients themselves, is more than, as Gawler said in the ACA report, 'disappointing', it, in my opinion, is disturbingly myopic. Certainly, it is terribly disheartening to vulnerable cancer sufferers needing to, with great hope, courage and determination, put all options, allopathic and otherwise, 'on the table' for intelligent scrutiny. Easily accessible patient information is vital.

Cancer treatment, it seems to me, needs to go beyond the current traditional linear model of assessment–diagnosis–treatment–outcome. A more collaboratively linear/lateral approach, embracing integrative treatment strategies would actually support conventional treatment models and, more importantly, would markedly benefit patients.


  1. Hi Ian,

    It’s great news that you are to have another article about your work to come out on aturday. You are certainly getting frequent press recently.

    Elizabeth and I will read this next article with interest. Your blog is certainly filled with support for you and your work. And rightly so!

    What I don’t get fully is the level of inertia in the community about your results. I guess that negative medical opinion and the efforts of the drug companies continue to have a big influence. Persistent effort over a long period seems to be working on the lay community and on some medical people and I certainly celebrate that.

    What can be done to get the results researched? Do you think a letter from you to the Minister of Health, pointing out the health dollar savings, not to mention the lives saved or improved, would have an impact. Many thousands of us know the value of your work and the potential and actual benefits. Maybe getting a petition into Parliament would raise awareness too.

    All the best Ken

  2. It may be worth reading this article about the work from Ralph Moss author of “The Cancer Industry” and “ Questioning Chemotherapy”.


    , "... And besides, looking through those spectacles gives me a headache."
    Professor Cesare Cremonini
    in 1610, explaining why he would not look through Galileo's telescope at the moons of Jupiter.

  3. I am appalled by the attacks that Ian's being subjected to.

    His comment that chemotherapy, in suppressing the immune system, would have enabled the TB to make an end of him is pretty compelling. But the argument ought never to be made at all. Who cares? In his early 20s Ian stared at death and is still alive at 60. His survival is remarkable in any terms. And ahead of his time, while he sought medical help for his illness, he saw health as his own responsibility.

    Every public health care system in the developed world is worried at the billions spent on a purely medical response to illness, when healthy living could prevent some illnesses, reduce the risk of many, and better manage most of the rest.

    As the founding secretary of the Gawler Foundation, I never once heard Ian recommend anyone to quit their doctor or abandon medical treatment. I have certainly heard him encourage people to maximize their own psycho-biological resources to help themselves at the same time. Who could possibly be offended by that?

    My time with Ian prompted me to pursue undergraduate psychology studies, followed by a Postgraduate Diploma in Health Psychology at La Trobe. That is an academic discipline where health is defined as a "biopsychosocial" issue – which Ian teaches from experience. That is the model which inspires people.

    Prejudice announces itself in many ways, but it is always ugly. “Men feared witches and burned women” said the US Justice Brandeis, quoted in Al Gore's book 'The Assault on Reason'. It seems to me that a real person, in this case Ian, is made to suffer when prejudice attacks reason.

    Swami Shantananda
    Spiritual Director
    Australian College of Classical Yoga