Regular readers of this blog might remember the tragic story of Tamar Stitt, the 10 year old girl whose parents smuggled her out of Australia following a court order that she receive chemotherapy, to seek treatment for her rare liver cancer with alternative medicine.

Her story was featured on Channel 7s Sunday Night and I previously blogged about it here.

Well, today I was informed that tragically Tamar succumbed to her cancer on November 12th, 2009 in San Salvador where she was undergoing treatment with natural therapies, including hours of mud-wraps. There is little information on this at the time of going to press, except to say that my source tells me they contacted a journalist involved in the story, who confirmed this was the case and that Tamar passed in hospital. Google searches are also turning up very little, however I did find a comment from someone on a news site, dated December 31 st 2009, stating

“Tamar died a month or so ago in el Salvador. Towards the end the mother was taking her for chemo treatment but it was too late. Her death was reported on the news here two days ago – the hospital in el salvador has confirmed it.”

According to the story from October 12th 3009, doctors in Perth

“say a seven week course of chemotherapy will give Tamar a 50 to 60 percent chance of survival. Without it she will suffer a long and painful death.”

But her parents are devout Christians, and say God will decide her fate.

“I don’t want to lose my daughter, but it is God’s decision,” says Tamar’s father Trevor Stitt.

“Who am I to fight against it?”

Trevor also left a comment on the same website stating;

14 Oct 2009 8:17p.m.

Hello to all of you, yes I am Tamar’s Father.Channel 7 came into our lives to supposedly portray 2 sides of the story, sadly they’ve lied and left out half the truth that they filmed. They were supposed to interview people (Doctors)and natural healers who’ve cured people of cancer successfully, but “pulled the pin” on the interviews because it would topple their one-sided story.They also ommited to say that I trained at Guy’s Hospital, London and worked as an Operating Dept Practitioner in Anaesthesia in the UK for 10 years before coming to Oz in 1998,worked at Royal Marsden cancer hospital in London and so have quite good research engines at my disposal. I have seen “clay wraps” cure my Tamar of asthma at 2 yrs when PMH only offered steroidal inhalers, she’s never had an attack since.If 7 had’ve told the truth about what they saw without overdramatising the San Salvador situation and others for sensationalism, then maybe folks would know more of what we are doing for Tamar, who IS getting a little better each day.I have to say I don’t really know who you are Josie, you say you know us,do you have another name?
I guess the struggle is just beginning (and I don’t speak about Tamar’s condition here)those “orthodox”people will not be happy, google Roy Rife, see what happened to him.Remember Patch Adams? (a true story)didn’t fit in to orthodox practice, too happy,he had a proper bedside manner (taboo in today’s conventional medicine). “There are none so blind as those who will not see”- with the eye of faith you don’t only see, you begin to LIVE!Thanks to All who support us and also to those who don’t.

This is a terribly tragic case, especially if it is true that Tamar’s mother did eventually take her for chemotherapy, as suggested by the comment above. Even more so, because her father apparently has a medical background including working “…as an Operating Dept Practitioner in Anaesthesia in the UK for 10 years before coming to Oz in 1998,worked at Royal Marsden cancer hospital in London……so have quite good research engines at my disposal.” (see above). Despite this, Tamar’s parents still chose to seek out alternative remedies as oppose to those supported by evidence.

Cases such as these where religious beliefs and faith in alternative medicine result in (often) avoidable deaths are tragically, not uncommon. It is also important to consider the desperation and vulnerability of a person faced with the imminent death of their daughter, therefore one can sympathise that you might be inclined to try anything. Similar to my Mum’s friend who passed 6 months ago from cancer also, but in her final months fell victim to all kinds of useless therapies including hair analysis which I have previously blogged about here and here and vega testing.

It reminds me of a quote from an essay written by Michael Baum and Edzard Ernst in the book “Healing, Hype or Harm” about ethics in alternative medicine;

“Even treatments which by themselves are not harmful, will become life threatening if they are used as an alternative to effective treatments of serious diseases.”

Cancer Victoria produces a booklet warning cancer patients about “quack” therapies. You can read about it here.

Several sources have advised me that there will be a follow up story on Today Tonight this coming week.

Thanks to Tony for letting me know about this. Please see Tim Farley’s comprehensive website What’s the Harm? for more such cases.

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  • Paul

    Do the research rather than listening to the mocking bird media rubbish. Cancer is tragic ….. stomach liver cancer has a 85% kill rate @ the 5 year point, with chemo!

    From diagnosis to to her Death inside one year the tragic truth is this poor little girl was always going to die.

    There are very few cancers which respond well to chemo radiation treatment.

    Her parents were faced with the unthinkable so don’t assume chemo would heal her these types of cancer are death sentences.

    Check out expected life expectancy for stomach liver cancer and your opinions will change….. there is not one clinical study which can be sighted to affirm that chemo is effective.

    Seek out verifiable clinical evidence before judging and this media approach does not give you accurate information just fear so you follow on with out thought or consideration.

  • you can say that alternative medicine is cheaper too and usually comes from natural sources *;.

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  • Ian Monroe

    Gah what a horrible situation. I mean its easy to see why any parent wouldn’t want to poison their child. This natural understandable urge combined with religion and wacky alt-med lead to this tragic result.

  • “Sad….that’s what I feel for the people that refuse to believe that a power larger than themselves controls them.”
    Irony. That’s what I see in a post where you castigate us for expecting evidence and dismissing nonsense when all along you think we’re not even in control of ourselves.
    Paradox, conundrum,

  • Tamara

    Sad….to read the information on this particular case and everything else on the site saddens me. Healthcare (sick-care) should be called a religion. People follow blindly without questioning. A cardiologist that has suffered a bypass, a GP that’s on 10 meds at the age of 45. Never would I subject my health to a practitioner that couldn’t prevent the disease that they are specializing in. I worked in a hospital for 11 yrs and was disgusted every day that I had to walk through a wall of cigarette smoke from medical practitioners that smoked and were 50 lbs overweight. I applaud everyone that questions the status quo. Medical facts are paid for by the pharma companies that stand to benefit financially from them. Sad….that’s what I feel for the people that refuse to believe that a power larger than themselves controls them. You refuse to believe. Alternative, Allopathic…..people die with both therapies.
    What caused Tamars cancer…….I’m sure no one knows. For those of you that live your life based on statistics, chances are she would have passed regardless of what her parents chose to do and she is probably in a better place….a place where humans don’t fight over what is right or wrong, where there is understanding, consideration, love.

  • I sympathise with their plight. With a 50/50 chance, they might well have the right to weigh the value of the side-effects of chemo against the chance of success and possibly decide to allow her to die without additional suffering.
    But they went further than just avoiding chemo, they subjected the poor girl to being wrapped up in clay every day – something that had 0/100 chance of success.
    Despite this, I find it difficult to blame the parents since our governments and society in general support, or at least tolerate, lots of nonsense approaches to health and other issues.

  • But still MUCH higher than doing nothing more than throwing money at quacks and nothing more.

  • Trevor de Koekkoek

    How many people die when under chemotherapy? Thousands. It happens all the time, every day. Where’s the shock and outrage at that? It just amazes me how people can be so blind and damn those that disagree with their precious medical religion. So they fought with “ineffective alternative therapies”. They should have fought with “ineffective standard therapies”. That would have been more responsible.

  • Daniel

    Don’t make it sound like she would have survived if she had chemotherapy. The chances of being alive in 5 years after chemotherapy are slim.

  • @AndyD sadly, no.

  • Any mainstream update on this? Today Tonight? Anyone?

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  • nudel

    “I don’t want to lose my daughter, but it is God’s decision … Who am I to fight against it?”

    But he *did* fight against it, albeit with ineffective alternative therapies. It beggars belief!… 🙁

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  • AnotherMaggie

    I’m not surprised 7 didn’t show any “people (Doctors)and natural healers who’ve cured people of cancer successfully”. Because if such people existed who could prove their claims, they would have been all over TV well before this tragedy. It seems to be so much hearsay and anecdote, but any proof of real cure is nowhere to be found. Just people claiming they can do miracles… while people die around them.

  • Skreeran

    Saw this coming a mile away. Can’t say I feel too bad. Maybe her death will save other lives, in that people might think twice before going to said “alternative” treatments?

  • Hi Jason,

    Not yet. According to my source,

    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”

    A very sad and tragic story indeed.

    Tony Pitman
    Melbourne, Australia

    it will be covered on Today Tonight. It does however seem strange that she passed away on November 12th and there has been no mainstream media coverage yet, at least that I can find. As shown in the post, all I could find were a few comments on news sites.

    I agree with you that it should be covered my Sunday Night. We will see.

  • Godlessblogger

    I am shocked and simply at an utter loss for words. How horrible.

  • Jason Ball

    Did Channel 7 ever do a follow up to the original story? Surely Tamar’s death is worth bringing to the attention of Sunday Night viewers?

  • CryoTank

    This is so sad 🙁