Author, Musician, Engineer, Lover

Gaslighting in Medicine – Cancer Scams

Recently I lost a family member to cancer. Cancer is a horrible, horrible disease. I lost my father to cancer, an aunt (more of a sister), and now a well-loved cousin aged just 41. On top of that I have watched many friends and family members tough-it-out through chemotherapy, thankfully surviving, but enduring painful recoveries from surgeries, amputations, other procedures. Whereas many survive cancer, the experience is often traumatic and life-altering.

It is an unfortunate problem that scams exist in medicine. These scams prey upon terminally ill patients and their families, taking advantage of the desperation humans feel when they or a loved one are suddenly face-to-face with their own mortality. They use their desire to continue living to extract ridiculous sums of money from patients and their entire families. Their treatments are often not covered under insurance. They’ll try to tell you that the treatments are “too new and advanced” to be covered by insurance… but what they’re really saying is that their treatments are unproven and unsupported by evidence. They often find their victims, “customers”, via aggressive social media campaigns where they push promises, false hopes, touting new “holistic”, “alternative” therapies developed by “experts”. The US government does not regulate holistic medicine, and the peddlers of it can pretty much say whatever the fuck they want and not see any penalties. Some of these cancer treatment centers are run, essentially, like cults.

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I’m afraid to say that my cousin got caught all up in this kind of scam. Admitting this out loud may rock the foundations of my extended family, so let me preface this by saying that I don’t blame them. Anyone who has read my book knows that I know what it is like to be emotionally compromised, as my book is all about doing dumb things in reaction to emotional manipulation… and if I’m being brutally honest, that’s what happened to this family. They have been gaslit into a cult that made them feel hopeful… but participating in this quest for hope has cost them dearly.. it may have cost my cousin’s life. It is my understanding that the scammers made false promises and even false diagnoses. At one point my cousin was even declared “cancer free”… speculatively as a way for the scammers to say “Yay! Look! It worked!”… yet, somehow, just a few months later, that “cancer free” status was reversed and had suddenly evolved into its final stages, throughout every part of her body… too much to handle. Did a reputable hospital declare her “cancer free”? My sources say, “no…” it was the scammers themselves who declared it. Did they even do a scan? Would a reputable hospital have declared her cancer free? I think it is unlikely.

I’m afraid that my cousin’s surviving husband is still wrapped up in the cult that scammed him and his family out of their money and potentially the life of his wife. In his eulogy, which seemed to be more of an advertisement for the scammers rather than a eulogy for his deceased wife, he thanked them for giving her 3 more years to live… but correlation is not causation… nobody can actually tell you if she, specifically, lived a longer or shorter life due to the “treatments” she endured…. you would need a time machine to answer this question. You would have to go back in time, do something different and see if it made a difference.

If you take even ONE day of a community college level statistics class, the very first thing they will teach you is that “correlation is not causation”. You could eat nothing but bananas every time you got a cold and once your cold finally subsides, declare that “bananas cure the common cold”, but you don’t know if your cold would have cleared up sooner if you had eaten potato chips instead. The scientific community has yet to discover a cure for the common cold.

The scientific community is careful to do controlled experiments, comparing results to placebo studies. These studies are repeated and verified by independent experimentalists until eventually the scientific community publishes consistent findings that are used to train professionals with regards to what works that the evidence supports. But when science doesn’t have “good news” for you, you might, in desperation, feel compelled to try just about anything and everything to keep living.

My cousin’s widow is so indoctrinated by this little medical cult, that he’s starting a foundation to help others pay for treatments at the clinic. It is an alternative holistic cancer treatment center. It has been attacked by multiple watchdogs for being a scam operation, and was cited by the FDA for practicing quack medicine, creating unapproved drugs involving some kind of “cancer killer” cell cultures. In addition to cancer, the place also seeks out Lyme’s disease patients. Lyme is notoriously difficult to diagnose because the symptoms of it are incredibly vague, causing people who suffer from migraines, fatigue, and other chronic issues to blame Lyme for just about anything and everything. There’s a whole Netflix documentary dedicated to it that I recommend called “Afflicted”. It is worth a watch, if you’re curious. The non-specific nature of Lyme diagnosis means that it is both over-diagnosed and under-diagnosed… in effect arbitrarily diagnosed… and the treatments for it never really seem to get to the root of the issues the patients are having… making it a great cash cow for snake-oil-salesmen promising holistic miracle cures from placebo pills. I would be suspect of any clinic that targets both cancer and lyme’s patients! It is a big red flag that they’re basically just looking to rip off desperate people that cannot be cured.

I dated a medical practitioner for a few years. And whenever we talked about her job she often began sentences with phrases like “The evidence suggests…” You may think you’re clever for finding some bullshit medical advice on social media, but I assure you, your doctor doesn’t think you’re clever for parroting whatever bullshit was pushed upon you in some Facebook group. My ex went to Georgetown University and has a zillion credentials that she has to constantly work to maintain… and you think you’re going to walk into her office and tell her how to practice medicine? She’ll have none of that. If you actually want to learn something about medicine, read some actual medical journals in lieu of social media propaganda. All social media has 2022 has devolved into a propaganda machine for populists. You won’t find any good science there.

In addition to the medical practitioner, I dated a girl whose profession was and still is… “barback”. I had met nobody so sure of herself when it came to denying science, vaccines, COVID, and masking. A mutual friend of ours lost his own mother to COVID-19 and her reply was “it wasn’t COVID, it was something else, maybe the flu… COVID doesn’t exist.” To her I replied “Since when did you study viral pathology in college? I thought you graduated high school at the age of 20!” Needless to say, we didn’t date much longer after that.

Medical Science is a science. Science is shaped by the “scientific method”. Yes science is “wrong” sometimes, but being “wrong” is built-into the scientific method. Being wrong is okay just as long as it gets us closer to the “truth”. Compare that to religion for a moment. If it offends you to hear your own religion criticized, think of someone else’s religion…. and ask yourself… “Does this religion allow for self-correction when it is wrong?” Probably not… right?

Scientologists believe that Lord Xenu flew DC-10s through outer space and dumped them into a volcano, subsequently forcing them to watch propaganda films in a movie theater to brainwash them… and the only way to wake up your mind from all the evil spirits haunting it is to pay the church large sums of money for “auditing” those evil spirits… removing them from your body. Does that sound right? If you’re a scientologist, you might feel right at home with that story… but does it sound right to think that Jesus was resurrected, Noah put all the animals of the earth onto a boat to incestuously repopulate the earth, or that God made Adam and Eve in a garden… Science be damned! Evolution is fake! When unscientific ideas pervade logic, and especially when that upside-down logic influences government, laws, and community… that’s where I, personally, draw the line.

I believe that people have a need for religion to exist, especially when faced with their own mortality. Death is a paradox to a human who only thinks of life through their own conscious observations…. but then again… life itself is also a paradox as well as time and space. We are already living in a paradox. We can potentially theorize the concept of life after death without resulting to 2000-year-old books. Rather than “The Bible”, I believe that it is far easier to explain the possibility of life after death through observations of space/time, such as the concept of “Eternal Return“… which considers life-after-death (what you might call “heaven”) to be not a “where” but a “when”. If time is infinite, especially if the universe if finite… then certainly eventually all the particles of the universe will be reassembled exactly as they were… eventually. It’s not even religion… it’s just… math!

Science deniers love to point out when science is wrong, but scientists are actually the ones looking at the evidence. It is all about evidence… “indicators”. People these days seem to have a feral need to cut-down experts and label PhDs, Professors, and other well educated people as “elitists”. When you refer to professors and masters and PhD’s as “elitists”, you’re basically just acting like a middle-school bully and calling them “nerds” or “geeks” or “dweebs” or whatever people in your generation called the hyper-focused, intelligent, specialists who didn’t have time to take away from their studying to comb their hair or go play beer pong after the homecoming game.

Tragically, it may have always been deemed acceptable in our society to cut down people who actually have knowledge and experience in things like medicine, pathology, history (Holocaust Deniers)… physics (Flat-Earthers)… thermodynamics (Thorium-Powered Car, anyone?)… politics (MAGA Idiots who think the 2020 election was stolen and Alex Jones, Snake-Oil salesman of the century). The ridiculousness of any one of these little cults should reinforce the idiocy of them all.

Knowledge averse human nature has always been with us, in waves. In history it has led to mass torture and murder of millions of innocent, smart people. A certain organization, despite being the singularly most murderous and torturous organization in the history of mankind, still exists and thrives today. No, I’m not talking about the Nazi’s… I’m talking about the Catholic Church. We participate in the new modern day Spanish Inquisition… a new modern day holocaust every time we blindly follow and parrot social media bullshit promoted by the worst gaslighters in our society… and when you parrot cancer or other medical scams… all you’re really doing is letting the bad actors in our society get their way, ruin you, ruin your neighbors, your family and finances.

Think before you promote snake-oil bullshit.

0 Replies to “Gaslighting in Medicine – Cancer Scams”

  1. George says:

    – Ada, your insights into the exploitative nature of these “alternative” treatment clinics are both chilling and thought-provoking. The idea of these organizations capitalizing on people’s desperation and fear is sickening. The loss you’ve experienced is immense, and I can only assume that it feels like a betrayal to have lost your cousin partly due to this scam. It’s a stark reminder that we must remain vigilant and critical of information, especially health-related information, that we come across.

    I can’t help but think of your amazing book “How to Sacrifice Your Lover” and the psychological implications it holds. It’s a poignant examination of emotional manipulation, much like the gaslighting these clinics pull off. Just as in your book, it appears that these fraudulent organizations can manipulate and ensnare even the most well-meaning and loving people. It’s a deeply tragic reality and one that needs more awareness.

    Your comparison between science and religion, especially in the context of mortality, is also very thought-provoking. It stirs up a notion of how humans, in times of desperation, may be more akin to ascribe to comforting narratives, those that religion often provides, than to adhere to the harsher, more unpredictable nature of scientific truth.

    On a personal note, your reference to the concept of “Eternal Return” resonated with me. I find myself drawn to abstract theories like these, as they offer a unique perspective on the inherent paradoxes of our existence. It’s definitely something I’ll ponder over.

    As always, your writing prompts deep introspection and critical thinking. It’s unfortunate that it’s under such tragic circumstances, and I’m truly sorry for your loss. You have my deepest condolences.

    • Phoebe G. says:

      Absolutely right, George. Ada’s ability to weave the psychological subtleties of manipulation into his narratives is striking. Isn’t that part of the reason why “How to Sacrifice Your Lover” resonates with us so deeply? Transposing that to this real-world issue stamps an even graver reality onto it. No one should be toyed with, especially at times when they’re most vulnerable.

      His mention of “Eternal Return” definitely stirs up some existential questions, doesn’t it? Sometimes, these abstract theories offer a different comfort, like a mathematical balm to the raw edgings of our mortality.

      And absolutely spot-on about the science versus religion discourse. It’s almost like a survival instinct kicks in and we turn to narratives that offer us hope and solace rather than cold, unpredictable facts. But it’s paramount, as you said, to stay vigilant and critical.

      • Quinn Johnson says:

        Survival instinct’s the thing – folks seek solace more than truth. Spot on, Phoebe! “How to Sacrifice Your Lover” unravels that idea masterfully, making Ada’s insights here feel even more personal and piercing. And you’re totally right about the science vs. religion bit, surviving over understanding seems to be a human default setting. But Ada nails it: we need to ground ourselves in evidence and skepticism, or else we’re just fueling those snake-oil salesmen.

        • Rhea Hughes says:

          In shadows of despair, truth’s embrace often cold.

        • Katie N. says:

          Eloquently put. Ada’s personal connection indeed amplifies the message. Evidence over blind faith is a strong takeaway from his distressing narrative—also reflected in his novel’s themes. The challenge lies in disseminating this awareness without losing sight of empathy for those gripped by desperation.

        • Sienna West says:

          Ada’s perspective blends emotion with clarity. Grounding is crucial.

    • Michael S. says:

      Heartfelt sorrow & anger mix well in your words, George, poignant.

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