|Died||26 February 2015(aged 29)|
|Other names||The Wellness Warrior|
Jessica Ainscough (July 1985 – 26 February 2015) was an Australian teen magazine editor who became a writer and wellness entrepreneur following a rare cancer diagnosis at the age of 22 years. Ainscough went by the self-coined nickname "The Wellness Warrior" and used her popular blog by the same name to share her personal story of using alternative cancer treatments. Ainscough died of her cancer at the age of 29.
Jessica Ainscough was born in Australia in the South East Queensland city of Ipswich  the only child to "adoring parents" Col and Sharyn Ainscough. The family then moved to the small town of Walkerston in North Queensland where Ainscough attributed a preoccupation with Sweet Valley High novels to a lack of siblings. When Ainscough was just ten years old, the family returned to South East Queensland to settle on the Sunshine Coast. Having developed a love of writing, Jessica aspired to be a journalist, and went on to graduate in 2005 from the Sunshine Coast University with a Bachelor of Communications, majoring in Journalism. During her last year at university, Ainscough gained work experience at the Sydney office of 9 to 5 Magazine where she had her first job after graduating. At the time of her diagnosis, Ainscough was working as an online editor for popular teen magazine Dolly. In a 2013 interview for the launch of her book, Make Peace with your Plate, Ainscough reflected on her life at the time of her cancer diagnosis, declaring "It was an amazing life".
Ainscough was diagnosed with epithelioid sarcoma on April 24, 2008 following a biopsy of lumps removed from her left arm and hand. From the initial diagnosis, Ainscough recalls being informed that epithelioid sarcoma was an extremely rare cancer and difficult to treat. The incidence of epithelioid sarcoma was reported as 0.4 cases per million in 2005. It is twice as likely to occur in men, and three quarters of those diagnosed are between the age of 10 and 39 years. Although epithelioid sarcoma is less common in women, the prognosis has been reported to be more favourable. Surgical oncologist David Gorski has written that without treatment most succumb to the disease within 10 years, however with surgical resection the 10-year survival rate is estimated to be 49-72%, with higher survival rates reported in younger patients such as Ainscough.
Initially, the only treatment offered to Ainscough was an amputation of the affected arm at the shoulder, known as a forequarter amputation. Ainscough reluctantly agreed, however, shortly before the scheduled surgery her medical team offered an alternative treatment which was to have an isolated limb perfusion. Ainscough consented to chemotherapy and had the procedure in June 2008. The initial scans following chemotherapy showed that the cancer was in remission, however, by November the following year the cancer had returned, and the only treatment option was a forequarter amputation. Ainscough refused to have the amputation, and instead turned to alternative cancer treatments. In December 2014, Ainscough wrote in her blog that she had returned to conventional medical care to treat a large fungating tumor under her left shoulder that had been bleeding non-stop for ten months, leaving her weak and uncomfortable. Under the care of an oncologist, Ainscough received six weeks of radiation therapy in the final weeks of her life.
Alternative cancer treatment
Following her second cancer diagnosis, Ainscough began two years of Gerson Therapy, which she described as 'intense detoxification and nutritional treatment'. In April 2010, Ainscough and her mother Sharyn Ainscough traveled to the Gerson clinic in Tijuana, Mexico where they both spent three weeks learning the Gerson program at a reported cost of $16500 AUD, plus travel expenses. Over two years, Ainscough reported that her treatment included 8760 glasses of juice, 2920 coffee enemas, 1460 baked potatoes, 1460 bowls of Hippocrates soup, 33580 supplements, and 174 shots of castor oil. Ainscough wrote about feeling socially isolated by the Gerson Therapy, and saddened to be missing out on making memories with her friends: "Before Gerson, I loved to drink, go dancing and be stupid with my friends. Making peace with the fact that I will not really ever be able to do that again was incredibly difficult".
Following the two years of intensive treatment, Ainscough followed a basic Gerson program of six juices a day and just one enema, with the inclusion of some extra foods such as nuts, seeds, spices and avocado. From the time Ainscough began Gerson Therapy, her condition was monitored by her "Gerson doctor" in Mexico who would receive Ainscough's blood tests, along with results from live blood analysis and iridology, and conduct analysis using a machine called an "Indigo", which was claimed to be a quantum biofeedback device.
In 2010, before leaving for the Gerson clinic, Ainscough wrote an opinion piece for the ABC news website about her decision to refuse medical treatment saying: "Modern western society is conditioned to rely on doctors to cure us of all our ailments without taking any responsibility for what caused the problem in the first place. Maybe it's laziness, maybe it's ignorance, or fear". Then in 2014, having returned to medical treatment, Ainscough wrote about the change in her beliefs posting to her blog The Wellness Warrior: "I’ve been speaking to doctors, healers, and specialists and I’ve been completely opening myself up to attracting the right people who will help me heal—whether they are from the natural medicine world or conventional. My beliefs have been completely shaken up and I’ve had to drop any remnants of fear and ego that were preventing me from exploring these options sooner".
Influencers and supporters
At "Wellness Warrior Events", Ainscough was joined by other celebrity wellness entrepreneurs who would also share their alternative health journeys, including former actor Melissa Ambrosini, musician Wes Carr and celebrity chef Pete Evans. Ainscough invited Cyndi O'Meara, nutritionist and fellow Sunshine Coast wellness entrepreneur, to write the foreword of her book, and later acknowledged O'Meara as the person she admired most professionally. When Ainscough passed away O'Meara, who was among her closest friends at her bedside, wrote 'She could have beat this, but she lost her mum and that's such a tough thing to lose your mum' . Ainscough also spoke and wrote extensively about the influence of her mother Sharyn Ainscough and alternative cancer treatment advocate Ian Gawler. Her funeral was attended by Belle Gibson, who falsely claimed to have cured cancer through alternative therapies.
In April 2011, Jessica's mother, Sharyn Ainscough, was diagnosed with breast cancer. Sharyn also refused all conventional treatment instead opting to join her daughter in Gerson Therapy. Sharyn Ainscough died in October 2013, two and half years after diagnosis, in line with expectations for untreated breast cancer. At the time of her death, it was widely reported that "Sharyn, followed her daughter in advocating Gerson therapy after being diagnosed with breast cancer". However, in an interview with Jillian Exton, Jessica explained that it was her mother who had suggested Gerson Therapy to her after her initial chemotherapy was unsuccessful. Jessica explained that her mother had previously used Gerson Therapy with her grandmother who died within weeks of being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2000.
Ainscough claimed that Gawler's book, You can Conquer Cancer, was a major influence on her when she was initially diagnosed with cancer. Immediately before going to the Gerson clinic in Mexico in 2010, Ainscough and her partner Tallon Pamenter stayed at The Gawler Foundation. Afterwards, Ainscough wrote: "Last month I spent 10 days at the Gawler Foundation in Melbourne learning all about how to heal myself. It was the most beneficial 10 days of my life". Gawler Foundation founder Ian Gawler is a former Veterinarian who survived cancer after surgical treatment, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy. Gawler claims to have overcome a secondary diagnosis of terminal metastatic cancer with a combination of Gerson Therapy and meditation. However there was no biopsy taken to confirm the secondary cancer diagnosis, and experts have since attributed Gawler's symptoms to advanced tuberculosis—which he also received medical treatment for at the time—rather than secondary bone cancer.
- Make Peace With Your Plate, published 25 September 2013, by Hay House Inc.
Responding to Ainscough's death Professor John Dwyer of Friends of Science in Medicine warned of the risk of bowel perforation associated with coffee enemas and said: "There is no credible scientific evidence for any of these alternative treatments that claim to cure cancer," adding that "it can be difficult for people to tell what claims are unscientific and what are not". Whether Ainscough ever directly claimed to have cured her cancer is difficult to ascertain, as her blog "The Wellness Warrior", with 1.5 million followers, has been deleted. However, examples of Ainscough alluding to Gerson Therapy successfully treating her cancer can be found. In an article titled "I'm healing myself from cancer naturally" written by Ainscough for the teen magazine she once edited, Ainscough wrote: "I am ecstatic to report that it has worked for me. I have had no cancer spread, no more lumps pop up (they were popping up rapidly before) and I can actually see some of my tumors coming out through my skin and disappearing'" It was reported that Ainscough earned a "six figures" income from the "Wellness Warrior" brand.
- Cattanach, Andrew (4 December 2013). "Jess Ainscough, author of Make Peace With Your Plate, answers Ten Terrifying Questions". www.booktopia.com.au. Retrieved 20 January 2019.
- Gagliano, Josie (27 February 2015). "Jess Ainscough Dies, Age 29 - A Tribute". www.josiesjuice.net. Retrieved 20 January 2019.
- Bartle, Erica (1 June 2010). "Girl In Media – Jessica Ainscough, thewellnesswarrior blogger; journo; former online editor Dolly". girlwithasatchel.blogspot.com. Retrieved 20 January 2019.
- Williams, Patrick (2 March 2015). "Jessica Ainscough: Family, friends gather to remember 'The Wellness Warrior' who lost battle with rare cancer". abc.net.au. Retrieved 2 February 2019.
- Ainscough, Jessica (5 January 2012). "I'm healing myself from cancer naturally". dolly.com.au. Retrieved 17 November 2018.
- Hosseinzadeh, Pooya; Cheung, Felix (December 2009). "Epithelioid Sarcoma". sarcomahelp.org. Retrieved 20 January 2019.
- Gorski, David (6 April 2015). "Jess Ainscough, Belle Gibson, and "wellness warriors" vs. cancer". respectfulinsolence.com. Retrieved 20 January 2019.
- Team, Mamamia (28 February 2015). "The Wellness Warrior, Jess Ainscough has died, aged 30". mamamia.com.au. Retrieved 3 February 2019.
- Gorski, David (27 February 2015). "The Wellness Warrior, Jess Ainscough, has passed away". respectfulinsolence.com. Retrieved 17 November 2018.
- Staff, Writer. "'Last chance option': Fiance reveals Wellness Warrior Jessica Ainscough turned to radiation". new.com.au. Retrieved 4 February 2019.
- O'Meara, Cyndi (2 May 2012). "Wellness Warrior Blog- A True inspirational Story". changinghabits.com.au. Retrieved 2 February 2019.
- Exton, Jillian (15 September 2011). "11NT Jess - Cancer - explains what it is like on gerson therapy cancer treatment". youtube.com. Retrieved 18 November 2018.
- Ainscough, Jessica (7 April 2010). "No ill will". abc.net.au. Retrieved 3 February 2019.
- Wachob, Jason. "Wellness Leader Jess Ainscough Passes Away At 30". mindbodygreen.com. Retrieved 4 February 2019.
- Hockins, Naomi (1 March 2015). "Cancer claims a brave and remarkable fighter". sunshinecoastdaily.com.au. Retrieved 2 February 2019.
- Marcus, Caroline (10 November 2017). "Cancer fraud Belle Gibson: How the wellness industry became the other casualty". shm.com.au. Retrieved 3 February 2019.
- Gorski, David (17 October 2015). "Sharyn Ainscough dies tragically because she followed the example of her daughter, The Wellness Warrior". respectfulinsolence.com. Retrieved 17 November 2018.
- Davey, Melissa (1 March 2015). "Jessica Ainscough, Australia's 'wellness warrior', dies of cancer aged 30". theguardian.com. Retrieved 18 November 2018.
- Johnston, Chris; Medew, Julia (31 December 2011). "Cancer experts challenge Gawler's 'cure'". shm.com.au. Retrieved 3 February 2019.
- Corderoy, Amy (6 March 2015). "Cancer death of 'Wellness Warrior' Jess Ainscough brings focus onto alternative treatments". smh.com.au. Retrieved 3 February 2019.
- Marcus, Caroline (7 March 2015). "Opinion: Advocates of alternative therapies are gambling with patients' lives". couriermail.com.au. Retrieved 3 February 2019.