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When Alt Med Fails

Jes Ainscough, aka the Wellness Warrior, has died. Orac over at Respectful Insolence published a post about her death and her life choices on Friday. The comments are most ridiculous. Orac explains better but long story short, Jess Ainscough was diagnosed with cancer and chose various "natural" and alternative therapies over continued conventional treatment (which would have involved amputation) and sold them really really well. In fact her insistence that the Gerson Therapy cured her cancer and other woo became a brand that supported her with a 6-figure salary. Now that she has died her entire life/blog has been scrubbed from the internet. I find that suspicious, as it suggests that she and her team knew they were peddling bullshit.

Meanwhile her supporters are suggesting/promoting 2 theories 1) that the original conventional treatment 5 ish years ago is what killed her or 2) that the natural treatments DID work, but the stress from her mother's death fed her cancer and that's what killed her. Now since her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and forewent conventional treatments in favor of the same natural treatments as her daughter I can see the Jess might have great guilt for introducing her mother to such crap. Breast cancer is certainly more treatable than the cancer Jess was diagnosed with and it seems possible that her mother could have survived with conventional treatment.


I support the idea that everyone is free to make their own choices about what to do with their bodies/lives (except antivaxxers). But I think holding Jess up as a hero when she was profiting off selling her choice as a viable lifestyle/cure for everyone is problematic.

The insistence that natural works and death only happens if a person can't keep the correct attitude is pervasive in woo circles and is so incredibly vile. People who do die are frequently blamed because they couldn't control their disease. Umm, cancer is not curable with positive thinking, coffe enemas and carrot juice. And the shunning of conventional medicine as a toxic poison is just...misguided, misinformed and sad.

I feel like so much of the discussion about treatment focuses on woo because people don't want to accept that death happens. This blindness shuts down any avenue of conversation about palliative care and dying with dignity.*

*This happens in conventional medicine as well, but generally on the opposite end of the spectrum where every possible treatment must be tried no matter how painful/pointless.

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