Another sad story of alternative “medicine” causing harm.

This story was covered on Channel 7s Sunday Night programme, the same one that covered the death of Dana McCaffery and the anti-vaxers back in April. You can read my previous blogs about this here and here.

In this case, a 10 year old girl Tamar, was recently diagnosed with liver cancer which required immediate and aggressive chemotherapy. But her parents have shunned conventional treatment in favour of “mud” therapy. A team of oncologists at Princes Margaret Childrens’ Hospital advised that a seven week course of chemotherapy would give Tamar a 50-60% chance of survival. Despite the treating hospital pleading with the parents to consent to chemotherapy, eventually seeking the involvement of the WA legal system, the parents fled Australia to El Salvador.

Their preferred treatment is tea made from herbs, and red clay gathered from around the hills near their house in El Salvador. Tamar’s mother says that “Clay is basically the right medicine for any kind of illness, (it can cure) anything“. She went on to say, “..it dries up anything that is causing the illness in your system“. Twice a day, every day for a minimum of three hours, the clay is wrapped around the girl’s torso.

Her father says, “I don’t want to do this to my daughter but if it’s God decision then so be it.” He claims his daughter doesn’t want to lose her hair or get sick from the chemotherapy and has seen the research for herself, so she is therefore capable of making a decision to use natural therapies. He also claims she is eating normally and has gained weight. The parents claim the proof for the efficacy of mud therapy therapy is a book “written by a doctor” about the curative effects of herbs.

You can watch the full video here.


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  • http://arn55000ga.bravejournal.com/ wymiana matrycy

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  • http://scepticsbook.com Maggie

    @Danny,
    .

    “I believe in making informed decisions and taking responsibility for oneself.”
    .

    Sure, as long as the information you are getting in accurate and based on scientific evidence. Mud packs for cancer is not such thing. Also, when it comes to kids, they are relying on parents to make a decision for them. They do not deserve to suffer at the hands of some quack therapy.

  • Danny

    How come no one talks about all the children that suffer undergoing chemotherapy and the operations that they endure and then die after the treatment didn’t work? Does anyone ever question why pharmaceutical drugs are scheduled and that you have to get a prescription? Part of that answer is because most can kill and a lot more doctors than alternative therapists have killed patients. That’s partly why doctors need to be registered and alternative therapists are not registered.
    Ultimately we should have freedom of choice. If you can show that you have researched all information and choices available, then a parent should have the freedom to say no to something as harsh as chemotherapy treatment, with all it’s side effects. If they had chosen conventional treatment and extended her life for a few more months, at what extra cost would those months have come to? Unfortunately, a lot of decisions that we all make when we go to the doctor for serious illnesses, is based on fear. I believe in making informed decisions and taking responsibility for oneself. It can be hard when faced with something you don’t understand. If one can, it’s best to research the issue at hand thoroughly and try to source information that is not biased. All in all, we can only try our best.
    Remember to mostly eat fresh fruit and vegetables everyday as part of your diet and drink 2-4+ litres of water a day!

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  • http://www.fppdesign.com.au Catherine L Donaldson

    Such sad news after such tragic circumstances. Sincere condolences and thank you Tony & Maggie for the update.

  • http://realitycheckonline.blogspot.com/ Tony Pitman

    Hi everyone,

    I just wanted to let you know that unfortunately Tamar Stitt passed away on November 12th at a childrens’ hospital in San Salvador. Her death was announced on “Today Tonight” last week and I spoke to the reporter to confirm the story. I’ve also covered this case several times on my radio show/podcast “Reality Check” http://realitycheckonline.blogspot.com/

    A very sad and tragic story indeed.

    Tony Pitman
    Melbourne, Australia

  • http://thinkingisreal.blogspot.com AndyD

    I’ll note for now Kim that you switched from parasites to toxins as the underlying cause of cancer. Either way apparent “miracles” that occur without some fundamental statistics don’t offer much guidance.
    .
    With odds of winning Lotto around 1 in 50 million there’s virtually no chance of winning yet people do win all the time. Their individual processes of choosing their winning numbers, however, still have no value to the rest of us and many of them attribute their wins to vastly different things from prayer to psychic assistance to number systems to kissing frogs or whatever. In reality, coincidence just played in their favour on that day and no amount of frog kissing or prayer will ensure Lotto riches come your way.

  • Kim Hogan

    And I say why not to the lollipop! If she was on chemo, she probably wouldn’t be able to suck it from the blisters she may get in her mouth…

    If you were a million dollars in debt and had a 50/50 chance of winning a million dollars, but had to stake your life on it – would you? I’d say the odds would suddenly look less favourable.

    As for Hulda Clark, if I remember right, she was pretty old. And if my mum followed her routine and her cancer went from being aggressive lymphoma to non existent in 28 days, why wouldn’t I talk about it? I’d be surprised if you didn’t yourself. Such an easy painless procedure is well worth the 28 days to see if it works for you.

    At the end of the day, your body has a great ability to heal itself and if all it needed was to get rid of some of the toxins already in it to let that process begin, it seems ludicrous you don’t try that first before anything highly invasive that could kill you, nevermind the cancer itself.

  • http://thinkingisreal.blogspot.com AndyD

    I’m not sure about the mud therapy, but I think it’s less cruel than subjecting a 10 year old to the pain and trauma of chemotherapy, which by the way, is also unproven as a cure for cancer as patients have as much chance of recovery as those who chose not to go through with the treatment.
    .
    Well, mud therapy is obviously a weird and uncomfortable procedure so I offer lollipop therapy as a less cruel alternative. This involves giving the kid a lollipop any time she wants one. It’s not a proven cure, of course, but much more fun for her while she lives.
    .
    Hulda Clark, who invented the whole “parasites cause all cancer” schtick – and who wrote at least three books claiming she could cure all cancers and all diseases – died recently….. from cancer.
    .
    As I responded to you on my own blog, those who survive alternative cures are the only ones who get to talk about them at dinner parties and we have no real stats on what percentage they represent. Would you even be commenting here if your mother hadn’t survived?
    .
    If I had a million dollars in debt and had a 50/50 chance of winning a million dollars, I’m not sure I’d waste much time shopping around for better odds.
    .
    There are rumours, by the way, that Tamar Stitt’s condition has deteriorated and is now in hospital undergoing some amount of chemo. If anyone has a good contact at Channel 7, maybe they could check this out. The mainstream media have all but ignored this story so it would be good to know what’s going on.

  • Kim Hogan

    I’m not sure about the mud therapy, but I think it’s less cruel than subjecting a 10 year old to the pain and trauma of chemotherapy, which by the way, is also unproven as a cure for cancer as patients have as much chance of recovery as those who chose not to go through with the treatment. After nearly 30 years of chemotherapy treatment for cancer, it has very little positive results to show for itself.

    My mother was diagnosed with aggressive lymphoma and told to undergo full on chemotherapy sessions shortly after an operation. The doctors applied a great amount of pressure to try and get her to agree, practically threatening not to treat her if she chose not to go ahead with it and got worse. She saw that the patients who were coming out of chemotherapy were looking more ghaunt and dead than they were before and thankfully had the presence of mind to say no to the doctors. Instead, she found a simple herbal detox and parasite cleansing routine which she followed for a month and when she went back to the hospital, they couldn’t find any cancer at all, not even in remission. Yet they had the initial biopsy they took which shows the aggressive cancer cells.

    Moral of the story, not everything a doctor tells you is right or true. And in the end, if you only have a 50-50 chance at survival, it’s well worth looking into other options.

  • alana

    also, the hospital could agree that young Tamar could have the mud therapy in conjunction with the chemo… can do both… none of this ‘ours is right and yours is wrong’ – that aint gonna work!… that’s all i wanted to say

  • alana

    they need to get a female dr from the hospital to appeal to the family. next they have to take the threat of the court action out of it – it clearly didn’t help. the family should then be encouraged to go to the hospital of THEIR CHOICE. i’m usually all for mud therapy, and usually against chemo. it’s just that the cancer is already at a secondary stage – even chemo’s chances are iffy. mostly i want to support the whole family with their decisions. the handling of the case and the ‘bedside manner’ have been not real skilled

  • http://seantheblogonaut.com Sean the Blogonaut

    Sad sad story.

  • http://bastardsheep.com/ BastardSheep

    When you combine high emotions with a discussion/argument, it’s often very difficult to stay with rational arguments. Exhasperation, desperation, tempers flare, blinkers close in and the comments get sharper, less concise, worse layed out with both side being less willing to even listen to the other, let alone take it in.
    .
    This was already a very emotional issue for her parents, as discovering cancer in such a young child would be for any parents. The constant harrassment from the media and public would be doing nothing except making things worse.
    .
    Unless you can build a case for them not loving their daughter then try to keep the sympathy for the parents too, do not let your anger at the frauds and quacks who knowingly promote such treatments translate to the parents who to me appear to be victims as well of such misinformation and lies.

  • http://thinkingisreal.blogspot.com AndyD

    Tamar is only 10 years old according to most news reports. Did Sunday Night say differently?
    .
    You can read comment from her father, Trevor, at 3news (scroll down to comments).
    .
    I’d initially felt sorry for the parents but with each report (and the comment linked above) sympathy is becoming more difficult. The rationalisations for the alternative therapy seem less and less rational as time goes by.

  • http://antiantivax.flurf.net Todd W.

    I sincerely hope that she was misdiagnosed or that the cancer goes into remission on its own. She should not have to die because her parents are less than savvy. And at 14, is she really old enough to understand the literature on her own and make rational decisions about her care? How much did her parents influence her decision?

  • Heather

    I agree that if the parents do believe in God so deeply why are they bothering with the mud. But parents should have the right to make these choices. I doubt if Tamar needed an appendectomy they would refuse it. This is chemotherapy for a very severe cancer. Forget about losing the hair, Tamar would lose a lot more. Chemotherapy attacks every cell in the body. She would develop skin infections and sloughing(loosing layers of skin). She would be vomiting continuously. She’d have fevers. Constant diarrhea.

    For the most part the treatment will be futile and they would rather their daughter be treated with dignity, not as a shell of a human being.

  • http://bastardsheep.com/ BastardSheep

    This was a very sad story, watching how the misinformation and lies of homeopathic and naturopathic quacks have confused and damaged all these poor people. You could see the love and care in his eye, but both parents minds had been filled with so many lies that evidence no longer had any meaning. Their trauma of what was happening to their doctor opened them up to such emotional persuasion, and the fact the diagnosis came from a conventional medicine doctor hurt them as well making them colder to the profession.
    .
    I feel sorry for all three of them, the daughter and the parents. I can’t see them coming around though. Another case that will have no affect other than being another chalk mark at WhatsTheHarm.net.

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  • http://thinkingisreal.blogspot.com AndyD

    This incident has been seriously, bizarrely, under-reported. A News search for “tamar stitt cancer” doesn’t turn up nearly enough hits (I see one currently and blogs aren’t much better). So thanks for commenting on it.
    .
    I’ve taken a softer-than-usual stance on this case after seeing a broken Trevor Stitt on one of the early reports. I haven’t seen this latest report yet (thanks for the link, I have trouble with Yahoo7) but reports from it have an eerie biblical familiarity.
    .
    I really don’t understand why anyone would bother wrapping their child in mud or accepting chemo or doing anything if they believe God will make the decision regardless of their actions. The cognitive dissonance is staggering. The American parents who prayed their daughter to death almost made more sense. But, as I’ve said elsewhere, I wouldn’t want to be them having to make any of these decisions. It’s difficult to be angry with them.
    .
    I hope the Stitts prove us all wrong and show “mud” to be the miracle cure science never bothered to investigate. If we’re shown to be right, I’ll continue to lay partial blame on our state and federal governments who tolerate promotion of useless therapies – in Australia!