Add as bookmark

Living Proof - A Medical Mutiny

by Michael Gearin-Tosh

listed in cancer

[Image: Living Proof - A Medical Mutiny]

In Spring 1994, 54-year old Michael Gearin-Tosh was diagnosed with incurable multiple myeloma (cancer of the blood and immune system). The survival prognosis cited was bleak – anywhere from a few months to 2-3 years. Because the treatment offered – chemotherapy (Melphalan) was not a cure, and perhaps due to Mr Gearin-Tosh's pedantic and rather obstinate nature, he refused cytotoxic treatment, adopted an extremely vigorous nutritional approach, composed of the Gerson therapy, plus additional supplements, acupuncture and visualization, and is still alive today, eight years later.

Now, Michael Gearin-Tosh is no ordinary man on-the-street. He is an eminent and scholarly Oxford don of English Literature. In fact, his book outlining his cancer treatment approach is very much an entourage of the great and the good both from the orthodox and complementary medicine worlds. His immediate team included, amongst a fairly large supporting cast of characters, exceptionally good friends Rachel Trickett (retired principal of St Hugh's College), medical doctor Christian Carritt and Carmen Wheatley DPhil, former pupil.

They set to work researching his type of cancer, treatment approaches and appointments with leading oncologists in the UK and America. In the book we are treated to the author's whimsical renditions of his consultations and communications with a host of consultants including Professor Ernst Wynder (formerly of the Sloan-Kettering Hospital), who made this pivotal comment to one of the author's cast of friends "I tell you one thing, boy," he said. "If your friend touches chemotherapy, he's a goner." A host of experts from the cancer world lined up to recommend chemotherapy treatment to the author.

Meanwhile we are witness to the extraordinary types of information and contacts provided to the author: a telephone 'interview' with Dr Nicholas Gonzalez, historical accounts of William Kelly, a consultation with Jan de Vries, recommendations to read Leslie Kenton's book Raw Energy, Beata Bishop's book A Time to Heal and Integrated Cancer Care (Editor Jennifer Barraclough), delivery of a juicer, referrals to a former friend who had adopted the Gerson therapy and had survived, consultations with the Linus Pauling Institute, to name but a few of the cast in this book. Along the way, the Bristol Cancer Help Centre was contacted re Gerson (the receptionist said that they didn't do Gerson and hung up the phone), and we are with the author when he encounters the enema bucket in a wholefood store in Paddington Street, London.

Michael Gearin-Tosh's regime included, briefly: the Gerson Therapy, orthomolecular oncology (Pauling/Hoffer high-dose supplements, including Vitamins C, B, E, beta carotene, selenium, zinc, calcium/magnesium and multi-vitamins, Bisphosphonates (for his weak bones), Enzymes, Metabolic Typing, Acupuncture, Visualization and Breathing Exercises.

Interwoven in the author's narrative are titbits of his complicated and intriguing social and professional life, his travels and travel companions, some of his nightmares (a French consultant who told him never to mention the word 'cancer' again) and excerpts from Primo Levi's book about Auschwitz.

However, what ought to make the medical establishment cringe with embarrassment and take note are that certain of its practitioners were guilty of abruptness, rudeness, bullying attempts to force treatment and insensitivity in discussing life and death matters with patients.

Gearin-Tosh would probably have opted for the chemotherapy had it made sense to him. But what this man had, most invaluably, was a stubborn requirement to understand the rationale behind the treatment (if there was no cure, then what was the purpose of undergoing toxic treatment?), a good measure of common sense, and a distaste of being rushed into treatment against his wishes.

He had the amazing good sense to tape record his consultation with his Consultant, so that he could listen to it over and over again when the shock of the death sentence wasn't quite so numbing, something with which Professor Robert Kyle (Mayo Clinic) concurs.

This book unusually includes, in addition to Michael Gearin-Tosh's account of his cancer odyssey, statements from eminent clinicians Sir David Weatherall FRS (Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine, University of Oxford), Professor Robert A Kyle (Mayo Clinic, Rochester USA) and a detailed Case History by Carmon Wheatley DPhil, which has been peer-reviewed by leading international experts. This Case History describes the Gerson therapy in detail, theorizing how each component in the author's regime may act to counter cancer.

These cancer experts don't understand how or even if the author's regime contributed to his survival, but state that the Gerson regime ought to be subject to prospective clinical trials to either prove efficacy, or to save patients "inconvenience, effort and expense". Why is it that so many people are so worried about cancer patients wasting their time and money on diet and nutritional supplements – one never hears them moaning about cancer patients going on holiday, buying new clothes or spending money on eating out in restaurants.

Will this book push forward the case regarding nutritional approaches to cancer? I would have thought that Michael Gearin-Tosh speaks the language of the Establishment; however, this battle has been waged for much of this century (read the majority of my Editorials in Positive Health for my views on the issue). Most depressing were the readers' responses following its first serialization in The Sunday Times in which cancer patients, relatives, carers and physicians expressed their outrage at the publication of this patient's unorthodox regime: "I hope you thought long and hard about the effect on other myeloma suffers...particularly those starting, in the middle of or completing 'traditional' treatment... I am, of course, delighted he is still alive...but it seems irresponsible and possibly cruel to print, even as reported conversation, something like: "If your friend touches chemotherapy he's a goner". "...Desperate people will try anything and cancer patients are often desperate, therefore easy prey for woolly-brained mavericks, at best, and at worst, unscrupulous, unethical charlatans who are prepared to take their last few pennies for some false hope of cure."

At the very least, the detailed Case History prepared by Carmen Wheatley and peer-reviewed ought to be required reading, along with this book, for all Cancer treatment practitioners.

This book can be ordered from the Positive Health bookstore. Please click the Bookshop image at the top of the column to your right, then click on Cancer.

Sandra Goodman PhD
ISBN 0-7432-0677-0

top of the page