Dying to Believe

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It’s not always Jesus who comes to tell us it’s time to turn out the lights:

According to the Minnesota statute “no person over two months old may be allowed to enroll or remain enrolled in any elementary school or secondary school or child care facility” until the person has submitted documentation of compliance with compulsory immunization requirements.

Kayla Dee, a Rochester mother of three, has one child enrolled at Jefferson Elementary.

“My religious beliefs are if you get sick with something it’s part of your plan in life,” said Dee. “So why get the vaccinations to try to prevent it. Those diseases are going to suck if you get them, but if you live through them great. If you don’t that’s your plan in life. Also medically it’s against my beliefs because who really knows what’s in these vaccinations?”

Dee said she will home school her kids if fighting the law doesn’t work.  She said she has lost friends since her kids aren’t vaccinated.

Vaccination exemptions can be given for medical or religious reasons.

Yes, and death is Nature’s way of telling us to slow down.

Keep reading. And may Jesus have mercy on our souls.

Dying to Believe

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You don’t have to be a Bible thumper to die in the name of closely-held belief. Step right up to the New Age of false promises:

WASHINGTON — Case 7682299: Aug. 1, 2010. A mother gives her toddler three homeopathic pills to relieve her teething pain. Within minutes, the baby stops breathing.

“My daughter had a seizure, lost consciousness, and stopped breathing about 30 minutes after I gave her three Hyland’s Teething Tablets,” the mother later told the Food and Drug Administration. “She had to receive mouth-to-mouth CPR to resume breathing and was brought to the hospital.”

There are eight cases of death involving babies who took these products. It is not been determined if there is any connection with the product and the fatal outcomes. In true fashion homeopathic products contain no active ingredients. What then, is the issue with the FDA requiring Hyland’s reformulate its products?

The report from STAT News points out that some doctors blame these products directly for children’s deaths.

 

Dying to Believe

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It’s not always Jesus that kills. This is the Tuesday tragedy. Witness the case of Stephanie Sofronsky:

The Florida Health Department is seeking to revoke the medical license of a Boca Raton doctor who failed to properly treat the cancer of a Florida Atlantic University student, according to a story by Health News Florida.

Dr. Kenneth Woliner – an integrative medicine specialist with Holistic Family Medicine – repeatedly analyzed Stephanie Sofronsky’s blood and ordered iron shots, herbal supplements, and antibiotics while failing to treat her cancer with chemotherapy, the state claims.

Medical experts had already told Sofronsky that she had an 80 percent chance of beating Hodgkin lymphoma with chemotherapy.

Health Department prosecutors proved by “clear and convincing evidence” that Woliner committed medical malpractice and financially exploited his patient, Administrative Law Judge Mary Li Creasy wrote in April.

According to testimony from the patient’s mother, Martha Sofronsky, Woliner said he didn’t think Stephanie had cancer despite it being diagnosed by three different hospitals.

What’s wrong with this picture is that a week from today I will have another story to tell. Keep reading.

Dying to Believe

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Readers, it’s not only Jesus who allows children to die from neglect. The parents of Seth Johnson believed they knew more about medicine than the doctors:

MINNEAPOLIS – A Minnesota couple face child neglect charges following the March death of their 7-year-old son, whom officials say died of pancreatitis without medical attention because his parents had “issues going to doctors,” reports CBS Minnesota.

CBS News additionally reported the Johnsons relied on prayer when young Seth’s behavior began to change for the worse. They were concerned that doctors would treat the child with medications:

In the days before Seth’s death, his parents were out of town for a wedding, leaving their son in the care of an older sibling. The night they returned, the Johnsons found their son hardly moving and said he didn’t react when they “prayed for his health.”

Jesus could not be contacted for comment.

Dying to Believe

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I set aside Tuesday to commemorate those who (mostly) die due to false belief. Here is another case from Quack Watch:

My Wife’s Death from CancerSubmitted by Richard Craven of Pelham, New HampshireIn the summer of 1997, my wife Lucille detected a small lump. She obtained a biopsy in the early winter. She met with an oncologist who diagnosed a small, pea-sized carcinomatous breast tumor. He recommended mastectomy and lymphectomy with a course of chemotherapy. She concealed her meetings with her physicians and her diagnosis from me and our children, and from members of her own family. I recall an argument I had with her in that period when she stated she did not want to ‘be cut, burned, or poisoned’ in the event she was ever diagnosed with cancer.

Lucille consulted a physician in another city, a physiatrist, with whom she had an acquaintance. This physician urged her to obtain a second opinion, which she did. The second opinion was the same, but Lucille was determined to obtain nontraditional treatment. She prevailed upon her physician acquaintance to find an individual to provide such a treatment. Together they visited a naturopath who claimed to cure cancer. However, at their meeting he requested an advance payment in full of many thousands of dollars as well as agreements signed by all family members excusing him from any liability.

Lucille determined to find another person to treat her illness. She began to read books with titles like “The Cure for All Cancers” and “The Cancer Encyclopedia.” One such book was by a chiropractor in a nearby state. Lucille sought treatment at his clinic. After their first meeting, she believed he could cure her cancer. She began to visit his clinic on a regular basis, although it was almost 150 miles away. She wrote him frequently to keep him updated with the progress of her disease. During her visits, he extracted blood and examined it in a dark-field microscope, showing her the field of view. At some point, he recommended that she use 714X, an injectable medicine promoted by a Canadian doctor. So she sent for it and began giving it to herself.

Meanwhile she continued to consult her physician acquaintance who examined her periodically, sold her homeopathic remedies, and provided blood irradiation services (a technique of extracting blood into a quartz vessel illuminated by ultraviolet light).

She continued to conceal both her disease and the true purpose of her homeopathic treatment from all in her family. She described her behavior as a search for a healthy lifestyle. I witnessed a gradual buildup of dozens of homeopathic remedies and the conversion of our family to organic-only food; and finally I discovered her self-injection treatments. She knew I disapproved strongly of these and of her visits to the chiropractor. I began to print and leave around articles which I found at the CDC website on the dangers of nonlicensed medicine. In hindsight, this was far too little, too late. However, being married for 33 years to this woman who was wonderful in other ways made me too tolerant.

Eventually her untreated cancer broke through to the surface of her breast. Her physician acquaintance explained that the cauliflower-like nodules were “carbuncles” caused by an excess of lymph. Her self-treatment became even more extreme and she purchased a device with two headlights on wands at a cost of many thousands of dollars. The instructions with these show a diagram of the human lymphatic system and they were intended to “promote lymphatic flow.”

By this time, two years had passed since the initial diagnosis. The chiropractor stated that he couldn’t help her any more and suggested she go to Germany to be treated there. Lucille discovered through a casual remark by his staff that his other patients were receiving chemotherapy. Lucille felt misled by him because he had caused her to believe that chemotherapy was harmful and not desirable.

The growing tumor had metastasized and Lucille’s left arm developed extreme lymphedema (swelling caused by blockage of drainage of the lymphatic system). This was not concealable, and I began to question her. Eventually she disclosed her condition and within a few days I convinced her to see another physician both of us had worked with and whom she also trusted. He arranged for immediate admission to his hospital and for the case to be taken over by an excellent oncologist. We obtained her cooperation to this ‘conventional’ treatment. Her oncologist did not criticize her homeopathic, naturopathic health providers even as he gave us a prognosis of months. She was released from the hospital on a fearsome regimen of chemotherapy. A surgeon consultant and radiation therapist consultant found her untreatable; and she died approximately 4 months later — a few days short of her 55th birthday.

At this point no more needs to be said. A collection of similar stories is on-line at What’s The Harm?

Dying to Believe

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Another Tuesday and another death due to reliance on unwarranted belief. From Quack Watch comes a story of death by cancer:

My good friend Debbie Benson died July 15, 1997, at age fifty-five. I had known her for thirty years. Her official diagnosis was breast cancer, but she was really a victim of quackery. Conventional treatment might have saved her, but she rejected the advice of her oncologist and went to “natural healers.”

Debbie was a registered nurse at the Kaiser hospital in Portland, Oregon, but she had a deep distrust of standard medical practice. She didn’t have a mammogram for nine years, and when she did — in March 1996 — it showed a cancerous lump in her breast. She had the lump removed, but she refused the additional treatment her doctor recommended. Instead she went to a naturopath who gave her — among other things — some “Pesticide Removal Tinctures.”

Readers, when you’re dying Jesus will not come to save you, and it’s for certain medical quackery won’t either.

Dying to Believe

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Dying to believe? How about something slightly less than dying? It’s not always the believer who suffers the consequences:

Two Kenyan boys, horribly mutilated in the mistaken belief that their genitals could be used in the treatment of HIV/Aids, have told the BBC of their ordeal.

Late last year, Philip Barasa and Oscar Kituyi, both from the remote northern region of Bungoma, had all or part of their genitals cut off to be sold for the making of an HIV/Aids potion. Another boy, six-year-old Omandi, was also attacked in a similar way.

Philip and Oscar have been treated at the Levante Rehabilitation Centre in the Spanish city of Valencia, where they have undergone reconstructive surgery; Omandi is expected there later this year.

Life’s tribulations are horrendous enough when people act through malice coupled with reason. Eliminating reason from the balance aggravates the tragedy.

Keep reading. Jesus is waiting for you.

Dying to Believe

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This is old stuff. Nearly 25 years ago medical charlatan Charlotte Gerson came to town, peddling what was then called “the Gerson cancer cure.” The North Texas Skeptics newsletter reported on it at the time:

Max Gerson seems to have been a very self-reliant man. At an early age he found he could cure his own migraine headaches by controlling his diet, and as a medical doctor he found diet to be a cure for a multitude of other complaints. The list is impressive. According to the flier distributed by the Gerson Institute, the Gerson Therapy can cure or prevent: cancer, heart disease, strokes, diabetes, arthritis and “other diseases of civilization that kill and cripple us.” Just wait until the AMA hears about this.

Max’s daughter, Charlotte Gerson, is living proof of the effectiveness of the Therapy. At age seventy, she looks the picture of perfect health. Slim and vigorous and very neat looking with white hair and wearing white sandals and slacks with a blue blouse and a string of pearls. She looks the way you would like your grandmother to look (or the way you would hope your wife looks at that age). You would never believe that 58 years ago her father cured her of “incurable” bone tuberculosis. Indeed, the only sign of malady she exhibited (that could not be attributed to seventy years) was a “Band-Aid” patch on the middle finger of her right hand.

Charlotte’s free lecture was presented at the Unity Church of Dallas on Forest Lane.

And there was more.

Anyhow, run the tape forward 12 years, and the Gerson therapy was still alive and well, this time with the moral support of high royalty:

Now Charles backs coffee cure for cancer

Angry doctors warn of dangers as Prince of Wales lends support to controversial alternative treatment. Health Editor Jo Revill reports

Prince Charles has never made a secret of his love affair with alternative medicine. Now he has infuriated the medical profession by backing a controversial cancer treatment which involves taking daily coffee enemas and drinking litres of fruit juice instead of using drugs. Charles gave an enthusiastic endorsement last week to the Gerson Therapy, which eschews chemotherapy in favour of 13 fruit juices a day, coffee enemas and weekly injections of vitamins.

Cancer specialists have told The Observer that there is no scientific basis for the theory and that it can be dangerous because patients who are seriously ill often come off their normal treatment to try something unproven which may leave them badly dehydrated.

The problem with scams like the Gerson cure is threefold: They don’t work. They entice patients to avoid therapies that do work. They are expensive beyond all reason and worth. For any and all of these reasons, avoidable death can be a consequence.

The Guardian article by Jo Revill notes, “An estimated 1,000 people are following it worldwide, but the cost of the injections – more than £20,000 a year – means many cannot afford the treatment.” Tragedy reaches to the highest levels of society:

Another of Charles’s associates, the hereditary peer and crossbencher Lord Baldwin of Bewdley, went to the Tijuana clinic in 1996 when his wife Sally was seriously ill with breast cancer. She spent eight weeks at the clinic, followed by another two years of using the regime at home. Her disease recurred and she died three years ago.

Keep reading, and always keep Jesus close to your heart.

Dying to Believe

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Every con job requires two to complete the deal. A con artist may be devious of mind and sharp of tongue, but if the mark does not perform his part, the thing falls through. Fortunately for this page that does not happen often enough to starve me of weekly material. It’s Tuesday again:

Six years ago, [James Arthur] Ray wouldn’t run out of a kitchen unless it was to speak to thousands of people—or the audience had paid four figures each for the privilege. After being featured in the book and movie of self-help sensation The Secret in 2006, Ray was propelled onto the national stage. At the time, he was touted as the latest in a long line of prominent self-help gurus who claimed to hold the keys to living a happy and successful life. Two appearances on Oprah followed, as well as his 2008 New York Times best seller Harmonic Wealth: The Secret of Attracting the Life You Want. The price of joining Ray’s World Wealth Society—a program of one-to-one mentoring—peaked at $90,000, and he bought a luxurious home in Beverly Hills. A glowing profile in Fortune magazine dubbed him heir to Tony Robbins’s motivational-speaker throne.

Then, in October of 2009, three of Ray’s followers died.

The good news, depending on how you define “good,” is that in 2013 the resilient Mr. Ray was released from prison, having served his two-year sentence for negligent homicide. On that fatal day in 2009 two people died immediately from heat stroke and another died nine days later of “organ failure.” The victims were among approximately 75 people who offered themselves to Ray’s cure, submitting to temperatures of 200 F inside a tent heated by rocks.

Back in business (as of March last year), Ray continues peddling “harmonic wealth.” It’s “the idea of energy fields attracting similar energy fields.” He will be successful so long as his dupes perform as scripted. He should not require much help.

Dying to Believe

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No way did I ever think I would outlive this guy. I followed his career with the rise of the Apple computer into one of the financial giants of our time. Steve Jobs had everything going for him, wealth, youth, and an intellect that towered over most others. Apparently that magnificent intellect was thrown away, as has happened with so many lesser ones:

In October 2003, Jobs was diagnosed with cancer. In mid-2004, he announced to his employees that he had a cancerous tumor in his pancreas. The prognosis for pancreatic cancer is usually very poor; Jobs stated that he had a rare, much less aggressive type, known as islet cell neuroendocrine tumor.

Despite his diagnosis, Jobs resisted his doctors’ recommendations for medical intervention for nine months, instead relying on a pseudo-medicine diet to try natural healing to thwart the disease. According to Harvard researcher Ramzi Amri, his choice of alternative treatment “led to an unnecessarily early death.” Cancer researcher and alternative medicine critic David Gorski disagreed with Amri’s assessment, saying, “My best guess was that Jobs probably only modestly decreased his chances of survival, if that.” Barrie R. Cassileth, the chief of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center‘s integrative medicine department, said, “Jobs’s faith in alternative medicine likely cost him his life…. He had the only kind of pancreatic cancer that is treatable and curable…. He essentially committed suicide.” According to Jobs’s biographer, Walter Isaacson, “for nine months he refused to undergo surgery for his pancreatic cancer – a decision he later regretted as his health declined.” “Instead, he tried a vegan diet, acupuncture, herbal remedies, and other treatments he found online, and even consulted a psychic. He was also influenced by a doctor who ran a clinic that advised juice fasts, bowel cleansings and other unproven approaches, before finally having surgery in July 2004.” He eventually underwent a pancreaticoduodenectomy (or “Whipple procedure”) in July 2004, that appeared to remove the tumor successfully. Jobs did not receive chemotherapy or radiation therapy.

Steve Jobs died in 2011.