By Melissa Davey – The Guardian.
Ainscough, who attracted thousands of followers on social media, shunned conventional medical treatment for her rare cancer and tried to cure it with Gerson therapy.
The former online editor of the teen publication Dolly, who attracted thousands of followers on social media after she shunned conventional medical treatment for a rare cancer, has died aged 30.
Jessica Ainscough was diagnosed with epithelioid sarcoma seven years ago, a rare soft-tissue cancer which affects young adults and most often first develops in the hand or arm.
Doctors suggested Ainscough’s best chance of survival would be to have her arm amputated at the shoulder, a traumatic procedure that significantly increases a patient’s chance of 10-year survival.
She tried chemotherapy for a time, but when it stopped working, amputation was again recommended.
It was then Ainscough tried to cure her cancer by following an unproven treatment known as “Gerson therapy”, which involves daily coffee enemas, a heavy regime of dietary supplements, and following a strict organic, vegetarian diet.
Cancer institutes around the world have rejected Gerson therapy as unproven, with the website of the National Cancer Institute in the US stating: “The data that are available are not sufficient to warrant claims that the Gerson therapy is effective as an adjuvant to other cancer therapies or as a cure.”
Ainscough became known as a “wellness warrior” after she left her job and began documenting her experiences with Gerson therapy online, attracting a strong following which included other cancer patients.
Her mother, Sharyn, followed her daughter in advocating Gerson therapy after being diagnosed with breast cancer, and died in 2013.
In an update Ainscough posted to her website last year, she said she had become unwell, attributing this to her mother’s death.
“For the first time in my almost seven year journey with cancer, this year I’ve been really unwell,” Ainscough wrote.
“I’ve lived with cancer since 2008 and for most of those years my condition was totally stable. When my mum became really ill, my cancer started to become aggressive again. After she died, things really started flaring up. For the past few months, I’ve been pretty much bedridden.”
A profile piece on Ainscough published by Fairfax last year, which said her alternative treatments had “paid off”, attracted criticism for not including any comment from peak cancer bodies or medical experts…read more.