Jessica Ainscough is a model and fashion writer turned “wellness warrior.” She’s an Australian media personality who, in 2008, was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer that is slow growing but extremely prone to spreading and which doctors recommended be treated by amputating an arm, where the tumor was located. It’s understandable that someone would want to avoid such radical and disfiguring surgery, but for this type of cancer, such extreme measures provide the best long term prognosis. Ainscough elected to have intensive local chemotherapy instead, which eventually did eliminate all detectable cancer. Sadly, it recurred about a year later, as this type of cancer often does. At that point, her doctors advised her that amputation was the best option for treatment.
The story might have ended there and been the sad tale of a young lady who lost an arm to cancer. However, due to her poor choices, the story is much much sadder. Ms. Ainscough decided to decline further treatment. She instead opted for an organic diet, coffee enemas and various detoxification rituals. She believes she is “healing” her cancer and that this is an example of her taking responsibility and doing the right thing.
Ms. Ainscough looks pretty good and, according to her, she feels pretty good. That’s actually not too surprising. The cancer has invaded her soft tissues and is growing and spreading, but, at least from the sound of it, it has not become debilitating just yet. The sad thing is Ms. Ainscough seems to be very confident she is getting better because she lacks the most basic understanding of what the condition is and how it needs to be treated. It’s certainly true that surgery, chemotherapy and radiation are damaging, but that’s because they have to be. Cancer cannot be “healed.” It must be killed. Cancerous cells are damaged cells of ones own body, which grow out of control, due to a breakdown in the function of the mechanisms that control cellular growth. Cancer is a problem inherent to animal cell biology, it can happen in anyone, for any number of reasons, but usually with no single attributable cause, and when it does, the only way it can be cured is by destroying the cancerous cells.
Ms. Ainscough’s complete lack of even the most basic understanding of how cancer is treated is apparent in some of her statements, such as this one:
Drugs do not cure cancer. They just don’t. Every now and then, chemotherapy and radiation treatments may put a patient into “remission”, but this is not truly healing. This is certainly not a cure. Why? Because cancer is so much more than the tumour it shows up as. The tumours are merely the symptoms. And when you just target the symptom without dealing with the root cause, the disease is going to keep showing up. You can chase the disease around your body with surgery and radiation, and you can douse it with toxic chemicals, but this is not an effective long-term solution. This is why you here so often of people whose “cancer came back”. They didn’t do the work to truly reverse their disease. Cancer is nothing more than your body telling you that something has got to give. It is the result of a breakdown in your body’s defenses after it has endured years of abuse in the form of a toxic diet, toxic mind and toxic environment.
No. That’s not it at all. The tumors are the problem. The tumors are composed of the cancerous cells that are the root of the problem and the reason it often comes back is that it’s so damn hard to get every one of those cells, especially when they start spreading to different areas of the body. While cancer can be the result of carcinogenic chemicals, it can also be caused by heredity or by the random degradation of genetic material that happens as a result of cellular respiration.
Let me be blunt about the sad truth here. Jess Ainscough is going to die. I don’t mean in fifty years either. The cancer she has now is going to kill her. It’s too late for her to have a good prognosis, and if she continues without treatment, then the already poor odds are going to get worse. She may feel okay for the time being, but she will die. Her only hope is spontaneous remission, which in this kind of cancer is all but unheard of.
I should note that I am not a doctor and I do not have access to Ms. Ainscough’s complete medical information. However, what I do know is that she claims to have been diagnosed with epithelioid sarcoma. If this is indeed true (and if it’s a lie then she’s downright evil), and if she is not receiving treatment by surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, then the cancer can be expected to be fatal. This has been confirmed by experts I have consulted before writing this. As one put it “Not treating epithelioid sarcoma is suicidal.”
The thing that really bothers me, however, is that she is working very hard to put out the message that her non-treatment is working and is the best course of action. She’s been embraced by the media and this idiocy could easily kill others who buy into it.
“I’m healing myself from cancer naturally”
In 2008, when I was 22 years old, I was diagnosed with a rare type of cancer called epithelioid sarcoma in my left hand and arm.
I was living in Sydney at the time and working as the online editor for DOLLY magazine. I was living an ideal life for someone in their early twenties â€“ burning the candle at both ends, paying no attention to how my actions could affect my health, but having a whole lot of fun while I was at it.
Everything was going exactly according to my life plan. Or so I thought.
On the 24th of April, 2008 I went to see my hand surgeon to have a cast removed, following an operation I had to biopsy some lumps that had been popping up all over my left hand and arm.
After taking the cast off, my doctor told me the news that would change my life in too many ways to predict. He said that I had cancer, and that the type of cancer I have is so rare that not many doctors know how to treat it.
Epithelioid sarcoma doesnâ€™t respond to chemotherapy or radiation, and my only chance of prolonging my survival would be to have my arm amputated at the shoulder. But essentially, my condition was incurable.
None of this made any sense to me. I felt so healthy, and I looked healthy. I could not understand how my life had come down to a decision about whether to have my whole, fully functioning arm chopped off.
After so much anguish and being given no other options, I signed the papers and arranged to have the amputation. However, Baby Jesus, Buddha, Elvis â€“ or whoever is up there â€“ must have been looking out for me, because two days before I was due to have the operation, my medical team came to me with an alternative option.
They wanted to tie a tourniquet around my armpit so that an extremely high dose of chemotherapy drugs could be pumped through my arm. I spent eight days in hospital having the treatment, then a week at home recovering.
Following scans showed I was clear of cancer, but in 2009 – not even a year after going into remission – the cancer was back.
This time I was told that my only real chance of prolonging my survival would be to have my arm amputated at the shoulder, but that this would just be biding me time. My case was regarded as terminal.
Deciding this was not good enough, I took matters into my own hands. I refused their offers and began searching for natural, alternative cancer treatments.
The way I saw it I had two choices. I could let them chase the disease around my body until there was nothing left of me to cut, zap or poison; or I could take responsibility for my illness and bring my body to optimum health so that it can heal itself. For me it was an easy decision.
I began looking at the different ways I may have contributed to the manifestation of my disease and then stopped doing them.
I swapped a lifestyle of late nights, cocktails and Lean Cuisines for carrot juice, coffee enemas and meditation and became an active participant in my treatment.
This research led me to Gerson Therapy which ensures you have a perfectly balanced diet for optimum health, assisting your body to flush out nasties whilst feeding it with all the goodness it needs to flourish.
Epithelioid sarcoma is a relatively rare type of cancer of the soft tissues. It usually occurs in the extremities and is most common in young adults. The tumors are slow growing, but have an extremely high rate of recurrence. Whenever possible they are best treated by surgical removal. As with most cancers, the earlier the tumor is removed, the better and the lesser the chances of recurrence, but even when the entire tumor can be removed, it frequently recurs. Up to 77% of patients will have the cancer reoccur after it has been removed.
Amputation would seem to be an extreme step to take, but in the case of Epitheloid Sarcoma, it is often the recommended treatment that offers the greatest probability of long term survival. The cancer is prone to metastasis early in its development, which is what makes it so difficult to treat and necessitates radical surgery as the best means of avoiding recurrence. The cancer is most prone to “local metastasis” which is why operations to remove only the tumor are frequently unsuccessful. Operations to remove larger areas of tissue or amputate the entire limb have a much higher success rate. It’s hard to gauge the exact success rate because it depends very heavily on how early the cancer is caught and to what degree it has spread. If the entire region of the cancer is removed, metastasis is only 30%. Therefore, while amputation of a cancerous limb does not guarantee that the cancer is cured, but it offers the best chance for doing so. Even despite the disfigurement and lack of function, it is generally advised that such radical surgery be the primary means of treatment.
The condition becomes extremely difficult to successfully treat once it has begun to spread to more distant areas of the body. It does not respond well to chemotherapy some chemotherapy drugs do appear to have effect on large tumors, but the data is inconclusive due to lack of peer reviewed studies evaluating long term survival. Radiation, though helpful for local occurrences, is of limited value once the cancer begins to spread to multiple areas of the body. In some cases, aggressive radiation therapy does stack up favorably to amputation and therefore may allow for retention of a limb while still providing a similar success rates. Surgical removal of the tumor combined with radiation therapy in the area of the tumor is another option which offers relatively good success with the ability to retain the limb.
The fact that this type of cancer is not common makes it difficult to get good statistical data on the success rates of different treatment regimes. With aggressive treatment by surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, the overall success rate is, sadly, only lackluster. About 42-55% of patients treated will survive ten years or more, which is generally considered the benchmark for being “cured.” Ms. Ainscough, however, would have had better than average odds of survival, given her demographic. Women tend to have better survival rates than men, and younger patients tend to have better survival rates than older ones. In more favorable cases, the rate of successful treatment can be as high 80%.
It’s hard to tell what Ms. Ainscough’s prognosis would be, but it appears it would have been pretty good, based on her age, gender and general health. With aggressive treatment, she had a very good shot at beating the cancer, even if it may have cost her an arm. Regardless of her ultimate outcome, treatment could certainly offer Ms. Ainscough a longer life, even if it were not ultimately successful. In all likelihood, the aggressive chemotherapy she had early on has given her at least a year or more extra to live.
Unfortunately, it’s now probably too late. I asked a doctor about what would be recommended now, and he said it might be amputation, if the cancer is completely or at least mostly in one arm, but if it’s spread further, amputating the arm would not provide much benefit. If the cancer has moved beyond her arm, which it probably has, then there’s very little hope of a successful outcome. Once the cancer has reached widespread distribution, the likelihood of long term survival is small, although it is not impossible. Even if treatment could still result in a favorable outcome, it appears that Ms. Ainscough is not open to the possibility of reconsidering mainstream medicine.
The progress of this type of cancer is usually slow. Since it primarily affects soft tissues, it may be grow and spread for quite some time before presenting serious symptoms or life threatening complications. Soft tumors develop around the body, mainly in the deep subcutaneous tissues. They are slow growing and may or may not result in noticeable tenderness or discomfort. It can, in some cases, result in surface ulcers. The slow but aggressive cancer will eventually begin to impair normal functions as it invades lymph nodes and structures like the abdominal wall.
It can take some time for this form of cancer to become debilitating and even longer for it to kill. The most common way that this cancer kills is by infesting the lungs. It may take some time, but eventually the cancer will begin to impair lung function. Palative care may include supplimental oxygen, which can allow patients to live a bit longer, even as their lung function declines. Ultimately, this is the manner in which epithelioid sarcoma kills.
I really do not take any delight in saying this, but based on all the research I have done and the opinion of doctors in the field, if Jess Ainscough really does have epithelioid sarcoma and is not having it treated then she will almost certainly die in the near future. She may continue in relative comfort and appear healthy for the time being, but the cancer is only going to get worse. She will begin to suffer progressively worse symptoms and will die, although it may take anywhere from a few months to a few years for it to happen. She has missed the opportunity to have a reasonably good prognosis. If she were to start treatment now, her likelihood of living a full life would be low, but if she continues to forgo treatment, it will be even worse.
I really find it extremely sad. Ms. Ainscough is a twenty six year old lady who may be naive and has been very quick to embrace alternative medicine as a cure for a disease she seems to have no understanding of, but being naive hardly is grounds for a death sentence. Sadly it does not look like she is going to make it to thirty.
Now this is really going to sound terribly cold, but considering she is going to die and there’s not much to be done about that, part of me hopes it happens soon, because has long as she is alive (which isn’t going to be a whole lot longer, no matter how you look at it), she’s spreading this deadly misinformation. Maybe once she dies, her tragic case will make others wake up and realize they need to get their condition treated.
The ones who really should have to answer for this disgrace is not so much Ms. Ainscough, who is as much a victim as anything else. This poor woman is dying and does not even know it, because charlatans exploited her ignorance and lack of blind trust. Media outlets have given her a platform to spread it even further. In the end, she’ll be the dead one and they’ll be laughing all the way to the bank.
Unless she’s lying about having this condition, in which case she’s just plain evil.
Finally, in a highly unusual step, I wrote to Ms. Ainscough:
Dear Miss Aincough,
I am writing you because I have read your posts and articles about your battle with cancer and the actions you have taken to try to treat your condition. I am sure that you firmly believe that you are getting better and that you are doing the right thing to improve your health. You may even feel better and perfectly healthy at the moment. However, you have been had. You are taking advice from people who have no idea what they are talking about. If you continue to do so, it will likely kill you.
I am not a doctor, but I know when a doctor should be consulted and being diagnosed with cancer is most certainly a time when you need a doctor. Having read your accounts, I can understand why you feel they are not giving you the answers or advice you are looking for. The modern healthcare system often bounces patients between white coat-clad professionals who do extremely cold and clinical assessments and seem to take little interest in personal wellness. This is a symptom of doctors needing to treat many people and being forced to work within constraints. It’s a heavily regulated and impersonal system. That does not, however, mean they don’t know what they are talking about.
The doctors who treat cancer understand it very well. They have spent years studying it on a biochemical level, a microscopic level and on a whole-body level. They know how it works, how it progresses and how different chemicals interact with the cancer cells. Becoming a doctor is not easy and you’ll generally find doctors to be very smart people.
Despite what you might have heard, doctors are not in it just for money. Sure, a career in medicine pays pretty well, but it’s not as simple as that. Medical school is long, hard and expensive. Doctors have to spend years in low paying residency before they ever get the chance to make good money, and even then the salaries doctors get are good, but they’re not usually enough to become extremely rich – usually just upper middle class. They have to worry about things like malpractice and may be forced to be on call at odd hours. If a person only wants money, they’ll go into finance or become a lawyer. Doctors, on the other hand, may make good pay, but they are also motivated by the desire to help and the challenge of things.
I don’t think anyone is going to deny that cancer is a tough thing to treat. It’s not as simple as nutrition, and if it was, we would not be spending billions a year working on improving treatment. Cancer is a problem inherent to animal cells. Sometimes they break down and start to divide out of control. When this happens, there’s usually no attributable cause. It’s not your body reacting to something, but just a random error that causes the body to attack itself. This is why it’s so hard to treat and why the treatment can be so difficult.
I realize that losing an arm is something that anyone would want to avoid. Being young and healthy and suddenly hearing you’ve got to have your arm amputated to avoid dying from cancer must be a huge shock. However, I assure you that no competition medical professional would ever recommend such a thing unless they thought it was absolutely necessary and even then, they don’t take it lightly.
The reason you have heard things that you do not want to hear from doctors is that they are required by the ethics of their profession to be truthful. When they said you had to have an arm removed and that it would not guarantee that it would successfully stop the cancer, they were telling you the cold hard truth. When they say the disease could kill you and they can’t be sure they’ll be able to stop you, they are telling you the truth. It’s not the reality you want or they want, but it’s just the way things are. Those who tell you to drink juice and have coffee enemas can tell you much more positive and desirable things. They can tell you that you are being cured and will live a long healthy life with both arms and no cancer. They can tell you this because they lie.
One thing that is universal with cancer treatment is that it always is always more effective when started early. You have already waited some time and therefore, your odds of success are now lower than they had been. They are not zero and if you start treatment now, you have a fighting chance of beating the disease. If you want until tomorrow, they will be worse. The longer you wait, the worse the odds get.
I really do not expect you to listen to this, because I’m sure you have heard this all before, but I still felt ethically obligated to at least try.
Please consider seeking real medical treatment or you will almost certainly die. If you get treatment now, you might have a chance.
UPDATE: SHE DIED ON FEBRUARY 26, 2015.
It took about 3 years from the time this was published and seven years since the first diagnosis. That is roughly the time that one would have expected. She was 30 years old. Her loss is very sad.
This entry was posted on Saturday, January 28th, 2012 at 11:18 pm and is filed under Bad Science, Quackery. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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