Report finds miracle cancer ‘cure’ was result of mistaken diagnosis
Chris Johnston, Julia Medew, December 31, 2011
A NEW report has cast doubt on whether the alternative therapies guru Ian Gawler ever suffered the secondary cancer from which he has claimed for 30 years to have cured himself.
The online report in the Royal Australian College of Physicians’ monthly Internal Medicine Journal says Dr Gawler, 61, Australia’s most famous cancer survivor and founder of the Gawler Foundation, had advanced tuberculosis rather than the secondary bone cancer he was told he had in the late 1970s.
Dr Gawler’s books on curing cancer without conventional medicine are bestsellers. His foundation’s residential programs have treated more than 15,000 sufferers, many of whom swear by his methods involving strict diets, ”mind-training” and meditation. Another 75,000 have attended Gawler Foundation lectures and workshops.
Dr Gawler, OAM, said it was ”ridiculous” to claim his secondary cancer never happened. ”I would question the authors’ motivations given my prominence in this field,” he said.
Professor Lowenthal has been a long-time critic of Dr Gawler’s methods but Associate Professor Haines said he was a ”courageous fellow who I know, respect and admire … But I don’t want patients thinking this man cured himself of advanced cancer”.
Associate Professor Haines said alternative or ”complementary” therapies were fine in conjunction with conventional medicine but should not be the only treatment. ”This is a mystery that has lingered since the 1970s. Many of us always thought it didn’t add up.”
The case, he said, was cancer medicine’s equivalent of the death of Phar Lap or the disappearance of Azaria Chamberlain.
Dr Gawler had his right leg amputated at St Vincent’s Hospital in Melbourne in 1975, aged 24, because tests proved he had osteogenic sarcoma, an aggressive bone cancer. He was a vet and promising athlete. A year later doctors found lumps near the amputation in his groin.
Crucially, no biopsy was taken. He was told the original cancer had spread and had reached his lungs. He was given between three and six months to live, according to the Internal Medicine Journal report.
Dr Gawler then embarked on an intense program of alternative therapies, including coffee enemas, massage and vegetarianism.
He lost weight and suffered night sweats, leg pain and back pain, according to the report, and in early 1976 was given only weeks to live. He had radiation therapy and travelled to India and the Philippines on spiritual retreats.
Dr Gawler maintains he had TB at the same time as the secondary ”osteogenic sarcoma” cancer, and that it went away because of the alternative healing. ”The nub of the argument is whether inadequate testing was done on me.”
The Internal Medicine Journal report says all Dr Gawler’s symptoms between 1975 and 1978 can be scientifically explained by ”advanced … disseminated … mycobacterial infection” such as TB. The report states Dr Gawler’s disease was ”wrongly labelled”.
Dr Gawler says he went back to all his original doctors recently, knowing the report might be published, but all stood by their original diagnoses.
- Report finds miracle cancer ‘cure’ was result of mistaken diagnosis (smh.com.au)
- Cancer experts challenge Gawler’s ‘cure’ (smh.com.au)
- Cancer experts challenge Gawler’s ‘cure’ (theage.com.au)