Categories
Cancer Complementary and alternative medicine Medicine Quackery Skepticism/critical thinking

Elizabeth Edwards and Kim Tinkham: A tale of two victims of breast cancer

Two women died of breast cancer yesterday. One was named Kim Tinkham. One was named Elizabeth Edwards.

In some ways, these women were similar. True, one was older than the other, but both of them died far sooner than they should have, one at age 53, the other at age 61. Both engaged in activism about breast cancer. Both were ambitious, driven women. Both died in the presence of their friends and family. Both died within hours of each other. Both demonstrated the implacable killer that breast cancer can be.

There the similarities end. One of these women (Kim Tinkham), for example, died because she chose quackery instead of effective therapy. The other, Elizabeth Edwards, died in spite of choosing science-based therapy. I expect that it will not be long at all before promoters of quackery like Mike Adams come out of the woodwork, as they frequently do when a celebrity dies of cancer, sometimes to truly despicable extremes. They will come out and claim that, because Elizabeth Edwards chose standard-of-care treatment but ended up dying anyway, science-based medicine is useless. At the same time, some will decry criticism of the quack whose nostrums deprived Kim Tinkham of her one best chance at surviving her tumor because women die every day of breast cancer, as though that were a valid reason, as though the situations were equivalent.

Let’s take a look at Elizabeth Edwards first. Edwards, as you recall, was married to former Senator, 2004 Vice Presidential candidate, and 2008 Presidential candidate. This time was the time when Elizabeth Edwards fought her battle with breast cancer:

She was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004, in the final days of her husband’s vice presidential campaign. The Democratic John Kerry-John Edwards ticket lost to incumbent President George W. Bush.

John Edwards launched a second bid for the White House in 2007, and the Edwardses decided to continue even after doctors told Elizabeth that her cancer had spread. He lost the nomination to Barack Obama.

I wrote extensively about the recurrence of Elizabeth Edwards’ breast cancer not long after it happened in 2007. In brief, Edwards was diagnosed with bone metastases, one of the most frequent sites to which breast cancer metastasizes. At the time, I discussed Edwards’ likely prognosis, pointing out how variable breast cancer biology can be and, in particular, how not all stage IV breast cancer is created equal. At the time, I observed that the median five year survival for metastatic breast cancer is on the order of 20%, with a median survival in the range of 16-24 months. However, by report Edwards had low volume disease only in her bones and no other organs (although it was unclear to me from reports whether she also had lung metastases). If she had bone-only disease, it would have implied a better, with some series reporting median survivals higher than 40 months. Moreover, from what I could discover, Edwards apparently had a stage II cancer that was estrogen receptor-positive and HER2-negative. In retrospect, Edwards probably did either better than a woman with stage IV breast cancer would be expected to so, except in the case of a woman with bone-only disease, in which case she probably lived fairly close to what would be the expected median survival. Her total survival was approximately six years from the time of her original diagnosis.

Either way, it saddens me greatly that Edwards’ life was 20 or 30 years shorter than it should have been, thanks to breast cancer.

Now, a cancer quack would argue that Edwards “only” lived six years. He would complain that science-based medicine failed to save her. He would argue this as though the failure of conventional medicine to save Elizabeth Edwards somehow validates whatever quackery he advocates. We’ve already seen it in the comments in my post from Monday about Kim Tinkham (whom we’ll get back to soon enough) and my call for everyone to remind Oprah that Tinkham has died because of choices facilitated and encouraged by Oprah’s promotion of pseudoscience and quackery on her show.

So what did Elizabeth Edwards do with the time she had? Among many other things, including helping her husband run for President, this:

Elizabeth Edwards had focused in recent years on advocating health care reform, often wondering aloud about the plight of those who faced the same of kind of physical struggles she did but without her personal wealth.

She had also shared with the public the most intimate struggles of her bouts with cancer, writing and speaking about the pain of losing her hair, the efforts to assure her children about their mother’s future and the questions that lingered about how many days she had left to live.

And, yes, she did pursue science-based medical therapy, and she did not survive. She did, however, try her hardest and choose the most effective therapy out there that we yet know about. She did it with class and clear-eyed knowledge of the risks and benefits.

Contrast this to Kim Tinkham. For whatever reason, when confronted with her diagnosis, instead of considering what needs to be done and making a cold-eyed assessment of the risks and benefits based on science, Tinkham embraced the New Age mystical woo known as The Secret. That very same New Age mystical woo led her to Robert O. Young, a man who claims that cancer is not a disease but rather a reaction to cells “spoiled” by too much acid and promised her that she could survive her cancer if she followed his “pH Miracle” lifestyle. This includes an “alkaline diet” and sodium bicarbonate, among other things, even though there is zero reliable scientific evidence to support Young’s claims that cancer is caused by “excess acid” or that “alkalinization” will cure it. However, as I pointed out, Tinkham did not want surgery and was clearly afraid of chemotherapy. That fear led her to reject her only good chance at survival, even though science-based medicine offered her a good chance of survival. Unfortunately, Tinkham made this decision even though she was clearly intelligent. However, somehow, something about The Secret and Robert O. Young’s acid-base woo resonated with her to the extent that it struck her as more appealing and reasonable than science-based medicine. The reason, I suspect, is that she was the type of person who needed answers. Remember, she wasn’t satisfied that conventional doctors couldn’t tell her why she got this cancer. Even though conventional doctors could treat it with a fairly high likelihood of success, they could not tell her with 100% certainty the answer to the question: Why me? Robert O. Young did not have the answer to that question, but he was able to convince Ms. Tinkham that he did, and she believed him.

You might remember that I estimated Tinkham’s chances of suriving ten years at around 50-50, In retrospect, it occurs to me that I probably made a fairly pessimistic estimate of the likelihood of Tinkham’s survival if she accepted therapy. Not all stage III is the same. Depending on other characteristics of her tumor, Tinkham might have had as high as a 70% chance of surviving 10 years or as low as a 30-40% chance. So I split the difference in my original (and admittedly) very rough estimate. Looking over her story again, I think that, in retrospect, Tinkham probably had one of the more favorable stage III tumors, which, if true, would mean that her chances were probably on the order of 60%, possibly even higher. Compare this estimate to an estimate of her odds of survival in the absence of treatment, which was probably no more than 3.6%. In essence, Tinkham chose to throw her life away. She was simply fortunate enough to have taken nearly four years to do it, lasting longer than the estimated 2.7 year median survival of untreated breast cancer. Yes, it is possible, albeit unlikely, that Tinkham did not have recurrent breast cancer. (After all, I do not have access to her medical records.) It is, however, very likely that she did, particularly given that she was described as having “cancer” in the liver, lung, and bone, the three most common sites to which breast cancer metastasizes.

Yes, unfortunately, despite choosing two very different courses from each other, both Kim Tinkham and Elizabeth Edwards died of their disease yesterday. This happened even though Elizabeth Edwards did the right thing to treat her disease and Kim Tinkham did the wrong thing. What does this mean?

Nothing at all, at least in terms of proving that “alternative” medicine should be taken as seriously as science-based medicine.

What we have are two anecdotes that both end badly. In the case of Kim Tinkham, we know from the biology of breast cancer that her choice virtually guaranteed that the course of her disease would eventually end in death. In contrast, assuming that Elizabeth Edwards did indeed have a stage II tumor, she should have had a roughly 80% chance of surviving ten years after her cancer diagnosis. The tragedy is that Edwards was, through no fault of her own, on the “wrong” side of that survival curve. Based on random chance alone, she was one of the unlucky 20%. Unfortunately, in the case of early stage breast cancer, because the vast majority of women survive, we all too frequently forget that a few still do die of their disease. In any case, The tragedy of Elizabeth Edwards’ death from breast cancer does not “prove” that science-based medicine is ineffective any more than the facts that seat belts and airbags do not save everyone who gets into a major automobile crash and occasionally there are people who even suffer injury and death due to seatbelt or airbag injuries mean that seatbelts and airbags do not work to save lives. Rather, it simply reminds us that even some women with favorable breast cancers still die of their disease, even after we throw everything we have at it. It also shows that we still have considerable room for improvement in our treatment of breast cancer. It shows that cancer is a formidable foe that we have not yet entirely beaten.

It does not invalidate science-based medicine or in any way validate quackery. It does not demonstrate that Tinkham was wise to choose her woo or that Edwards was a brainwashed dupe to choose conventional science-based therapy.

It is also instructive to compare the practitioners who treated Elizabeth Edwards with the one who “treated” (if you can call it that) Kim Tinkham. I’ll leave aside the obvious difference that the practitioners who treated Elizabeth Edwards were renowned cancer specialists using the latest in Science-Based Medicine and the other practiced rank pseudoscientific quackery, although that difference can’t be ignored. No, I want to contrast how these practitioners counseled their patients. Although I can’t know for sure, it’s very likely that Edwards’ doctors laid out the treatment options, the odds of success for each one, and their recommendations. When her cancer recurred in 2007, judging by the statements Edwards has made to the press and what she reportedly wrote in her book, they were quite honest that her disease was no longer curable and that all they could do at that point was to delay its progression and palliate her symptoms as they showed up. In the end, they told candidly when there was no longer any hope and even apparently told her that it was “pointless” to continue therapy. I have no way of knowing whether they waited too long to come to that point and suggest hospice. Possibly they did, given that Edwards only lived a day or so after announcing that she was discontinuing treatment. In any case, science-based practitioners know that cancer is a formidable foe and that we don’t always win, even against early stage breast cancer. We’ve all seen patients recur with stage IV disease. Usually, we know our limitations. We say to patients like Elizabeth Edwards, “I’m sorry. There’s nothing more we can do for you. I wish there were.”

Contrast this to the “practitioner,” Dr. Robert O. Young, who “treated” Kim Tinkham. By Tinkham’s own reports, Young promised her that he knew the cause of cancer and that it was treatable with an “alkaline” diet and sodium bicarbonate to “alkalinize” her blood. He told her she didn’t need surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation; indeed, if his website and blog are any indication, he probably told her that they would hurt her by making her more “acid.” Apparently, based on Tinkham’s own reports, at some point Young told her her tumor couldn’t hurt her, even though it was still there, because she herself said that in an interview. He also used her testimonial on his website and YouTube channel to sell his woo and, if a comment on one of his YouTube video pages was an accurate representation of what he said, apparently continued to do so, leaving the Tinkham interview videos on YouTube channel long after he knew that Tinkham was dying. In his response, instead of taking responsibility, young implicitly shifted the blame to Tinkham, claiming that she told him when she called him to let him know that her breast cancer had recurred and that she was dying that she had not “lived an alkaline lifestyle” lately. He tried his best to absolve himself of responsibility, claiming that he hadn’t seen her much in several years, even though he taped a lengthy interview with her in early 2010. When confronted with the public revelation that Tinkham was dying, Young abruptly removed all the videos, save the “abridged” edition, which appears to be a short compilation of highlights of the hour long interview.

In other words, his words and deeds after learning of Tinkham’s relapse indicate that Young was desperately trying to duck responsibility, in essence saying that it’s Tinkham’s fault that she died because she didn’t follow his regimen closely enough or didn’t believe enough and that, even if she did, he hadn’t seen her much in years anyway.

One other question comes to mind. It’s almost certain that, when informed of their diagnoses, both Kim Tinkham and Elizabeth Edwards felt the same emotions, the same fear of their disease, the same worries about whether or not they would live, the same anxiety about the treatments that were to come. Yet one managed to keep her rationality about her and choose science-based therapy, while the other retreated into a world of fantasy, in which she believed in The Secret and relied on a quack peddling quackery so bad that it doesn’t even qualify as pseudoscience. One maximized her chances of survival, while one rejected her one best chance at survival. The only other difference between the two was that one was simply unlucky and one was lucky enough to last longer than expected with in essence no treatment. With that in mind, my question still remains: Why do people run into the arms of quacks, particularly in the case of being diagnosed with a treatable disease, even if life-threatening? More importantly, how can we as doctors try to facilitate the understanding of cancer biology and science-baed medicine so that it’s more likely that patients will be like Elizabeth Edwards and less likely that they will be like Kim Tinkham?

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

250 replies on “Elizabeth Edwards and Kim Tinkham: A tale of two victims of breast cancer”

My Condolences to both families.
and the sad comment that Ms Tinkham might still be with her family today had she taken the choice of science-based treatment instead of “Dr” Young’s horrible quackery.
Speaking of which, don’t you find yourself wishing that Young could be forced out of business ?

“Speaking of which, don’t you find yourself wishing that Young could be forced out of business ?”

Yeah, as if that’d happen. He’s already managed to evade a few fraud charges, I wouldn’t be surprised if the slimy bastard doesn’t even lose face over this. After all, alt-meddies seem to be too busy crying about ‘evil scientist conspiracies’ instead of focusing on the fact that his treatments do not work whereas actual medical science does.

I really hope Kim Tinkham’s family and her supporters on her Facebook page see this series of posts and realize that this isn’t just a case of cancer taking away a loved one – it’s a medical fraudster (who likely knows what he’s selling is bullshit) helping to end her life prematurely by letting her throw it away.

More than that, DLC – I think Young should be arrested for manslaughter. Kim Tinkham undoubtledly died much sooner than she should have if she had been treated properly by an actual doctor, and Young should be held accountable.

I was planning to blog about this comparison too, and still might, but I may just point people to yours instead. Well done.

There was a weird, perhaps cosmic symmetry in both of them passing on the same day, and perhaps some good will come of it. May they both rest in peace. And as I said in my blog in June, there’s a special place in Hades for Mr. Young (and others like him).

I was planning to do this kind of comparison blog too, and I still might, but I may just point people to yours instead. Well done.

There is a weird, perhaps cosmic, symmetry in both of them passing on the same day. Perhaps some good will come of it. May they both rest in peace. And as I said in my blog in June, there’s a special place in Hades for Mr. Young (and others like him).

I think one of the most salient points is this:

Edwards was unlucky enough to be on the wrong side of the survival curve, despite doing everything she could using established oncology. Given what actually happened, if she had gone the Tinkham route she would most likely have died much earlier.

Tinkham was lucky enough to be on the right side of the survival curve given she did not get her cancer treated at all. Given what actually happened, if she had gone the Edwards route she would not only be still alive today, but could be looking forward to several – perhaps even many – more cancer-free years.

My sister died within 8 years of being diagnosed with breast cancer. She tried both science based medicine and alternative, with the emphsis on science. However, she did not have the monetary resources to be able to get the full benefit of medical treatment, didn’t have the thousands of dollars it would have cost — which is why I’m such a strong advocate of health care coverage for all Americans and fear a retraction of such coverage ability with the current Congress.

Yeah, what’s probably going to happen is advocates of alternative medicine will claim that this demonstrates Young’s rank quackery is superior to the best conventional care available. Because, you know, cancer is cancer, and if one survived longer than the other then that means the treatment was more effective.

Alternative medicine is all about making complicated things simple; never mind that there are hundreds of thousands of researchers still working on cancer because it’s a complicated disease intimately tied up with our ability to survive. Nope, cancer is caused by X, and if you can just have enough willpower to do Y, you’ll be saved. Praise Xemu! Or Xenu.

End rant.

Has anyone been able to distill to what degree history based fear of finances, surgery, chemo or radiation might have played in her(KT) initial choice?

Before anyone jumps me again, my grandmother lived 14 years after breast cancer surgery as sole therapy in the 60’s, and lived NED to a ripe old age. However I do have my suspicions about prior use of estrogen and pharmaceutical grade horse pee extract quackery.

Christy – it must really, really suck sometimes to be an American. I couldn’t imagine living in a country where you were basically told you were fucked for getting a disease you had no control of. “Oops, got cancer? Too bad for you, you should have had more money before you thought of getting ill!”

“Has anyone been able to distill to what degree history based fear of finances, surgery, chemo or radiation might have played in her(KT) initial choice?”

I could be wrong, but from interviews with her and articles on her I gather the initial thing that seems to have gotten the ball rolling on this tragedy is that Kim read this book at some point:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Secret_%28book%29

She may have simply been watching Oprah or something and decided to buy it, not knowing it was idiotic “all your problems are cause by not thinking happy thoughts” garbage. From there, she apparently got the idea in her head that her ‘soul’ knew what was best for her instead of trained medical professionals, and then at some point discovered Robert O. Young’s bullshit.

The owner of the CaringForKim Facebook page is deleting any posts that attempt to inform them about Oprah and Robert O. Young’s involvement in Kim’s death. Her close friends may have already been suckered into believing the same woo that just killed Kim…

Kim Tinkham is a personal friend of mine and she did NOT die of breast cancer! She was very suddenly struck ill the day after Thanksgiving and, upon being admitted to the emergency room & subjected to tests, was told she had stage 4 liver cancer–a cancer that is in no way linked to breast cancer.

The fact that people on this site are willing to sit in judgment of a woman who, more than 5 years ago, acted in faith–and, won–is a sad indictment of society today!!

You did not know Kim! She was strong, determined, vivacious, talented and smart! Everyone who loved her, understood that while she made a different decision than what most people would do today–she made the right one for her. We admired her faith in God! I didn’t meet her until 2 years ago but, I was in awe of her strength & character.

Your comments also do not address the fact that, as a self-employed person, Mrs. Tinkham did not have a substantial health insurance policy. She was an entrepreneur who was well respected in her field of expertise. Alternative medicine was a more fiscally responsible choice in her case.

Thanks for explaining the differences in the cancers of these two women. I posted something last night on the previous article, asking about that. I was thinking that the woo miesters would quickly seize on this situation without any clarification of the differences in the two women’s sub-type of cancers.

I will now have relevant and fact-based answers if I run into anyone claiming that Young may have helped KT to live longer. Shockingly, whenever I have known someone to die in spite of woo treatments, the friends of that person always claim that “at least she probably lived longer because of _____(fill in the woo)”. Even the idea that CAM may extend life needs to be taken down if it cannot be established. It only encourages desperate people to “try anything”–usually at considerable expense.

Just as important, is to consider that many people get into all this because they do not have adequate (if any) insurance. When you’ve been abandoned by the system, it’s easy enough to start listening to the nice New Agey people who seem to care so much about you. It even almost happened to me when I did not have insurance–and I am a staunch skeptic, believe me. So what doctors can do (as you asked), is to fight hard for continued health care reform that truly makes basic care available to everyone (preferably without ties to employment and insurance companies). Secondly, it is necessary to get into the media–get on Oprah (and all the rest) and make the case against this nonsense. A tall order, to be sure, but as long as this stuff goes unanswered, vulnerable people will continue to be sucked in. And what has happened to the office of Surgeon General lately?

Ms. Harrison, do not try to fool Orac, an oncologist. The liver is where the cancer metastasised. That is the problem with cancer, it spreads.

I am sorry for the loss of your friend. But her life was shortened by the Robert Young’s quackery.

WOW..talking about uninformed reporting!!! I am one of Kim’s good friends. As a matter of fact, Kim, I and Elizabeth Edwards all attended school in Iwakuni, Japan for whatever that is worth.

Kim was an EXTREMELY intelligent woman. She didn’t give in to the “WOO” as you so inappropriately call it. She made choices that she felt were appropriate for herself. God gave her…gave all of us that ability to make choices. Your choices can be your choices, and I thank God that you don’t make choices for me!

Your posts were deleted from Kim’s site because they were totally disrespectful to a family who is grieving.

The bottom line is that both of these well-loved and respected women have lost their …THEIR….battle with cancer yesterday. We grieve for the loss of them in our lives, but rejoice in the life that they lived. How dare you demean the person they are by making speculations when you know NOTHING about who they are, where they came from, and what brought them to make the choices they made.

I am using my real name…for I am not ashamed of standing up to defend Kim’s honor.

Speculate all you will on proper medical proticols….NEVER speculate on a person you know nothing about!!!

Angel Tessier

Martha,

I am sorry for your loss. I am also sorry that our health care system is so messed up that your friend, and other people, had to make decisions on a basis other than the medical one. A person’s choice of whether to use unpleasant but often useful medicines should be based on how well they expect the medicine to work, and on what they think of the side effects. It should not be “I can do this, or I can pay the bills for my family.” (I believe some of the financial issues were discussed in other threads, by the way.)

Angel Tessier:

She didn’t give in to the “WOO” as you so inappropriately call it.

Then explain the videos with the unqualified woo known as “Robert O. Young.” Do yourself a favor and read up about him.

She may have been very smart, but was lacking in common sense. She chose to believe in an unproven & unsupported method of “treatment” that ultimately killed her. By not addressing the original breast cancer in any productive way, she allowed the disease to spread to other areas of her body.

If she had undergone real treatment, there is a good chance that she would still be alive today, with her family and loved ones.

Alternative medicine was a more fiscally responsible choice in her case.

In what way was wasting money on a ludicrous (even by alt med standards) treatment fiscally responsible. We have quotes of Robert Young making ridiculous claims that blood cells turn into bacteria and bacteria turn into blood cells and that magnesium turns into iron in the body. In case you’re science education ended in elementary school, magnesium and iron are elements. You need a nuclear reactor or a particle accelerator to change one element into another.

Skydiving lessons would have been more fiscally responsible than giving one cent to a quack like Robert Young.

“Kim Tinkham is a personal friend of mine and she did NOT die of breast cancer!”

Do you honestly not know what the word ‘metastasis’ means?

“acted in faith–and, won”

Ah, proof from her own friends that you’re just as badly informed as Kim was.

“You did not know Kim! She was strong, determined, vivacious, talented and smart!”

And what does any of this have to do with the fact that she was scammed by a quack doctor? Lots of smart people can be gullible at times.

“Alternative medicine was a more fiscally responsible choice in her case.”

If she wanted to choose an option that had 0% efficacy in curing cancer, she could have spent the money and used it to enjoy her life, like vacationing around the world, instead of flushing it down the toilet for scam treatments. She wasted money on scam cures. Seriously, is this that difficult to comprehend? You would think her own friends would at least be a bit outraged by how she was taken advantage of.

“Kim was an EXTREMELY intelligent woman. She didn’t give in to the “WOO” as you so inappropriately call it.”

And yet she chose to take a fraudster’s ‘treatments’ over medical science that actually works. That doesn’t seem like the sort of choice you should be defending. I mean, I’m all for people choosing to let the disease run its course and not seek treatment, instead living out their life with palliative care. But wasting money on quack doctors? I’m sorry, but as her friend, you should know better than to claim this was wise.

Your posts were deleted from Kim’s site because they were totally disrespectful to a family who is grieving.”

I seriously, seriously doubt that, especially since you’re apparently so quick to defend her quack doctor and the people responsible for killing her, instead of wanting to speak out about how your friend was taken advantage of and get the word out about medical quackery.

“How dare you demean the person they are by making speculations when you know NOTHING about who they are, where they came from, and what brought them to make the choices they made.”

‘Speculation’? What an odd choice of words, considering we have rather significant evidence of what led to her death, and Robert O. Young’s covering of his own ass.

“Speculate all you will on proper medical proticols….NEVER speculate on a person you know nothing about!!!”

I’ll be blunt – if you really, genuinely gave a shit about Kim, you would be speaking out against the people who had a hand in her death so we can prevent further victims of quackery from dying.

As someone who has lost a close family member to cancer (actually a few of them), I’d ask that we lay off the criticisms of both Kim and her friends for the time being. The woman died yesterday, guys. Anything other than glowing praise is going to be interpreted as an attack, and while your defense of your position is reasonable, you’re just going to talking past each other. It doesn’t hurt you any, but these people really are grieving.

I think the focus of the discussion should be addressing Orac’s question at the end: how do we make sure this happens less? Arguing with Ms. Tinkham’s friends for coming to her defense the day after her death is likely counterproductive at best, and hurtful at worst.

How dare you demean the person they are by making speculations when you know NOTHING about who they are, where they came from, and what brought them to make the choices they made.

Misses Harrison & Tessier, I’m sorry for your loss but I think your anger is largely misplaced. From his postings, Orac has been quite sympathetic to your friend’s plight. He also clearly has been upset at what was clearly a likely preventable early loss of Kim’s life. As for speculation, Orac has had copious amounts of public statements (both in video and written word) on Kim Tinkham’s part where she has described her medical condition and treatment choices. Orac is not pulling his assessments out of thin air.

The bottom line is that your friend made what was almost assuredly a series of very poor choices. Yes, perhaps her finances may have played a part in her path, but in her public statements it appeared to be secondary to her faith in “self-healing” and the importance of avoiding possibly disfiguring surgery and very unpleasant chemotherapy and/or radiation. Instead she decided to embrace a dubious huckster (who has now implied that your friend’s death was her fault) who advocated a “treatment” that might was well been the prescription of daily sprinkling herself with confetti and then turning in a circle ten times while clapping her hands. As Orac pointed out, the attraction to such people is understandable, but frustrating to others who can see the fraud in progress.

OT: Can anyone else get into SBM or is it just my computer having issues?

On Topic: Wow. Look at the people jumping in all of a sudden to defend Kim. Orac’s been posting on her for almost a week, and just now, after her death, they are responding? As I said before, my sympathies for those who lost a loved one, but not for the quacks who lead her down the path to this result.

How very sad for their families. How very lucky I am to live in the UK where (for the time-being at least) your treatment is not determined by the amount of money you have in the bank or the health care plan of the company for which you work.

(Not that I am saying that the NHS is perfect and not that I am saying that the UK is free of poverty based health inequities…that’s a discussion for another day though)

Very glad to have my lovely mum here, healthy and cancer free 14 years after initial BC diagnosis thanks to nationwide screening and prompt evidence-based treatment.

“I am using my real name…for I am not ashamed of standing up to defend Kim’s honor”

Do you actually think that people the people here are discussing this for kicks, like we’re all just doing this to point and laugh at Kim? Do you not realize that a lot of the people here are heartbroken because we’ve had our own friends and family fall prey to quack doctors and fraudulent medicine? We’re telling Kim’s story precisely because we care about her, and we care about anyone else in her position because we don’t want to see any more Kims in the world die needlessly because they were duped into using a quack’s ‘treatments’.

The only thing you’re doing by not doing speaking out against those responsible for Kim’s death is defending their honor. I’m sorry if you can’t see that, but I’m not going to stop speaking about about a woman whose death could have been prevented.

As someone who has lost a close family member to cancer (actually a few of them), I’d ask that we lay off the criticisms of both Kim and her friends for the time being. The woman died yesterday, guys.

I agree 100%. I do not support arguing with or taunting Kim Tinkham’s friends if any of them come here to comment. I do not want to get into arguments with them, and I was aware when I wrote these posts that I risked causing Tinkham’s family pain. Even so, I was angry that this happened, because it was a death that did not have to be. However, you’ll notice that my anger has not been directed at Ms. Tinkham in any way. Yes, as I said, her case angers me, but that anger is not directed at her. Rather, it’s been directed at Robert O. Young and Oprah Winfrey, both of whom bear a major share of the blame for Kim’s death, in my opinion. As far as Ms. Tinkham goes, I want to understand what sorts of things lead an otherwise intelligent woman to reject potentially life-saving therapy in favor of quackery, the better to prevent deaths like Ms. Tinkham’s.

When it comes to her family and friends, all I offer is my sincere condolences.

So, please, people, in the short term at least, do not post links to my posts on Kim’s Facebook page or otherwise comment there unless it is to offer condolences. As Ian points out, arguing with Ms. Tinkham’s friends and family accomplishes nothing and is likely to exacerbate the grief they are feeling at this moment. Do you honestly think that you’ll get someone who knew Kim to agree with you publicly?

Finally, I have been in correspondence with two people who knew Kim. Suffice to say, they do not give the same story as the person who posted here. Is it possible that I’m wrong when I make the educated guess that Tinkham’s breast cancer recurred? Sure. I don’t have access to Kim’s medical records. Is it likely that I’m wrong? I would argue that, based on the natural history of untreated breast cancer, it is not likely that I’m wrong.

Finally, don’ t think that I don’t know the pain of losing someone to cancer. Regular readers know that my mother-in-law died of metastatic breast cancer in 2009. I still second-guess myself regarding whether there was some sign I should have recognized earlier that might have made a difference. I probably will continue to do so for the rest of my life.

Dawn:

On Topic: Wow. Look at the people jumping in all of a sudden to defend Kim.

I think it is because people started to post that her death was caused by Robert Young on the Facebook page. They may not have known about Orac’s postings before hand.

I would agree with Ian, that was not a productive thing to do. But I do not agree that we ignore what happened to her for some specific mourning period. It is important to let others understand that she chose an unqualified naturapath as a “doctor.” It is important for her friends to know there is a vast difference between someone who gets degrees from mail order diploma mills like Clayton College, and a medical doctor who has gone to a real medical school.

Friends of Kim Tinkham, please learn about Mr. Young’s Alma Mater. Do not get fooled yourselves.

OT: I can’t get to Science-Based Medicine either.

Science-Based Medicine has been down since last night for reasons that are currently unknown. I’ve e-mailed Steve Novella about it.

When even the Bible Answer Man attacks “The Secret”, you know something really, really weird is going on. I’m using “weird” loosely, though.
Given that, however, I was visualizing myself eating a well-done cheeseburger about an hour ago, since I’m hungry. I’m really, really visualizing it: eyes closed, humming, the whole bit. So much so that I can taste it.
Where’s my cheeseburger?

My sincere condolences to both families.

Michael.

“The tragedy is that Edwards was, through no fault of her own, on the “wrong” side of that survival curve. Based on random chance alone, she was one of the unlucky 20%.”

And of course the difference between woo and science is that eventually we’ll figure out why Elizabeth was on the wrong side of that curve and we’ll work out how to change the curve.

Like our esteemed host, I too, am imagining the reactions of web woo-meisters to these two untimely, tragic deaths, and they are rather disturbing. However, checking NaturalNews, I can see no signs of grave-dancing ( re: Ms. Edwards) or medal-pinning ceremonies ( re: Ms.Tinkham) at this time. I fully expect a rant** from Null against SBM forthcoming . As much as I despise the quacks, I think that they do share one quality ( afterall, they *are* human, I suppose) with their victims: an overwhelming fear of the disease that blots out what little reason these snake-oil peddlars possess. Unlike those with sufficient education ( Edwards was a lawyer) and stability to deal with the intricacies of cancer biology and risk/ benefits of treatments, I have come to believe that these rants ( spoken or written) are fueled primarily by their own personal fear of illness, especially cancer and mental illness, as well as the love of money for “cancer preventive treatments” ( e.g. supplements) that they talk up and then sell in their websites’ “stores”. I’m sure that many websites will be selling “special antioxidant phyto-nutrients superfoods” in the days followimg Ms. Edwards’ demise.

**( Actually, right now, Null is hawking megadoses of vitamin C for stage 4 cancer *and* talking about how Ms. Edwards *rejected* advice from his followers- all shows will be archived at progressiveradionetwork)

Something a friend wrote highlights the importance of work that Orac and sites like quackwatch do by exposing hucksters (eg. Robert O.Young) who prey on cancer patients:

“Surprising to me was the feeling of desperation I felt at having read that MCL (mantle cell lymphoma)is incurable; that life expectancy is 3-5 years (I now understand that I was reading outdated information). Out of desperation I found myself ready to accept numerous alternative treatments because “incurable” was unacceptable. I suggested (and my husband rejected) macrobiotics, any number of juices, and supplements in an effort to help his body fight back.

It is in those fearful moments that deception is allowed to take hold.

Looking for balance online:

The problem was that the sheer number of treatment related articles and opinions was overwhelming. To demonstrate my point I searched Google for the following. Here are the results:
Alternative lymphoma treatments = 3,860,000
Pharmaceutical lymphoma treatments = 892,000

Alternative lymphoma cures = 998,000
Pharmaceutical lymphoma cures = 242,000

In both cases the alternative results outweigh pharmaceuticals by more than 4 to 1. They were about 4 times easier to understand as well. I was dismayed at the number of websites selling expectations of long life to those of us who cling to hope by a sometimes slender thread.”

I think her death was a shame and that she could have stayed longer too, but I don’ think people should be posting that sort of thing on her Facebook page, or trying to educate her grieving friends on Young/Oprah/etc. That page is for her friends to honor her and I’d be deleting that stuff too.

I apologize if this shows up twice-my previous one did–keep getting timed out.

@12:

She had a second liver primary tumour? Considering that she had known breast cancer before and the likelihood of anyone having a liver primary is extremely low anyways, it is perfectly clear that she had metastatic breast cancer. Because it metastasized to her liver (and likely bones and lungs since those are the 3 most common sites for metastatic breast cancer) does not mean it was anything other than her BREAST cancer that killed her.

I (and many on here, including Orac) are saddened that you have clearly bought into this insane “theory” of cancer and cancer treatments. Young’s assertion that cancer is caused by acid “spoiling” cells and that “alkalinization” can cure cancer is absolutely, unequivocally, 100%, without a shadow of a doubt WRONG. Better yet, of course, he even modified his stance with Kim since her tumor obviously didn’t go away he said that it was “rendered harmless” by the special diet. And now that she has died from untreated breast cancer he backpedals and says she (admittedly) did not “live the alkaline lifestyle” and THAT is why she died. So let me get this straight – you still think this was the right choice and that Young “cured” her cancer when falling off the alkaline wagon for even a little bit allows it to come back and kill you?

You are correct, that she is an adult and has the right to make whatever decision is right for her. If she had decided to go see a voodoo shaman in a Louisiana bayou that would still be her rightful decision. However, to claim that anything she did made scientific or medical sense, or that Young is anything but a shameless pseudo-scientific quack is completely ludicrous. The point of posts like these is to keep other women from being deluded into the same insanity and believe that baking soda can “cure” any cancer.

In today’s world of tolerance and understanding (which IS a great thing) people have taken it too far. There ARE things in this world that are just plain WRONG and we know that to be the case. Making a claim that she was a “spiritual” person who “believed” in Young’s idiotic claims about cancer does not make her (or his) view correct or even an equal or viable alternative. There are things for which we do not know the answers and on which rational and intelligent people disagree. This is NOT one of them. The arguments for Kim’s choices as viable and reasonable are exactly on par with arguing that for some people, walking through a solid steel door is a viable and reasonable option because they “believe” they can. I will stress this again – there ARE things we KNOW to be wrong and this is one of them. Orac giving any credence to Young’s claims would be akin to a parent telling their children that it is OK to play on the freeway.

As for “fiscally responsible” – Young charges for his advice and Kim’s diet and lifestyle cost money as well. It is regrettable that she did not have insurance and that the US has such a poorly constructed health system. However, ask yourself this: does insurance cover an “alkaline lifestyle” treatment for cancer? Do you think MediCare or Aetna or BlueCross covers Young’s services? No! And why? Because it DOESN’T WORK. And no rational person or business would like to pay for things that do not work. If she were so incredibly strapped for finances the “fiscally responsible” thing to do would to be save as much as possible, take those limited funds, and invest them in the treatments that would have the HIGHEST chance of success. Think about it – if you had a small and limited amount of capital, would you take that and put it all in a stock that had no track record of success, was against everything that was KNOWN about the economy, and had a long list of failures or would you look hard to find a stock that had the best outcomes and the highest chance of success (even though there was still a chance of failure)? Of course you would pick the best chances of making money. Here Kim took whatever small funds she had and whatever chances she MAY have had at success (i.e. living) and decided to put all of that in the complete and utter nonsense that is “the secret” and Young’s completely disproven, discredited, and insane ideas. I have a bridge in Manhattan to sell you if you are interested in investing in some real estate.

We are all sad at anyone dying – as a medical student and former EMT in trauma and critical care at a busy hospital I have seen many people die, some in my hands. I can’t tell you how sad I have been every time someone in cardiac arrest dies as I have sweat pouring down my face from doing chest compressions for 45 minutes. I even once worked on a friend’s 14 year old only child for 90 minutes knowing that he had very little chance of survival since he had been in complete arrest for 35 minutes before arriving at the ER. I sat in the trauma room crying after that. But, does that mean that I should have stopped giving chest compressions and said “wait! it is his spirit that needs help, not his heart! We should get some crystals and a little homeopathic tincture and then have a reiki master wave his hands over his heart while an old chinese man puts needles in his skin to re-align his meridians and get his chi flowing back to his heart while a reflexologist massages his feet to jump start the nerves to his heart!” In reality, he only had about a 5% chance of survival from the second he arrived. And we all knew it. But those other things had exactly a ZERO percent chance of survival. So we worked hard and long using every means we possibly could to try and get him into that 5% that makes it. And let’s be honest – if that is your child coming to my ER with his heart stopped which would you rather have us do? Would you honestly start exploring anything other than the proven science of CPR and cardiac drugs, central lines, endotracheal tubes, and shocking his heart to try and get it started again? Of course not. But when it comes to something we know a little less about, and especially something that isn’t going to lead to your death in the next 90 minutes, suddenly equally insane ideas become “reasonable” and we all become evil for saying they are not. For treading on Kim’s right to make her own decision. You still feel sad for the 18 year old drunk driver that dies but you do not defend his/her “choice” to drink and then drive. You take that sad case and make a learning opportunity for others not to make the same mistake. And that is what has happened in Kim’s case.

You can have all the faith in God that you want – that is a separate discussion – but when you or your loved one has a heart attack and collapses I doubt (and hope) you would not just stand over them and pray they survive. No, I’d bet dollars to donuts you would call 911 and get them over to the nearest STEMI receiving facility where the same science, the same medicine, and the same caring people will practice the same proven techniques to save you (or your loved one). Do we save 100%? No. But we save a LOT more than standing around praying does. Kim would very likely (though not certainly) be alive today if she had actually sought out proper medical care. One thing is certain though – her path of following “the secret” and listening to charlatans like Young is absolutely what lead to her death.

NYBGRUS:

. I even once worked on a friend’s 14 year old only child for 90 minutes knowing that he had very little chance of survival since he had been in complete arrest for 35 minutes before arriving at the ER. I sat in the trauma room crying after that. But, does that mean that I should have stopped giving chest compressions and said “wait! it is his spirit that needs help, not his heart!

It is stories like this that made stop going to the website on HCM, much too depressing. But I still take my son to the cardiologist, and make him take his medication. Even though the new stuff is much more expensive. It certainly beats prayer.

If someone else caused the death of someone you love and you didn’t know, how long would you like to have to wait before you found out? A week? A month? A year later, after you’d gotten over it and they’ve become just another statistic to the rest of the world? Or would you rather find out while the death is still fresh in your mind so you could turn the tears into anger and make sure their death was not in vain?

My one question about Elizabeth Edwards’ disease course–an obituary reminded me that she’d discovered the lump during the 2004 campaign, and due to the rigors of the campaign, she waited until it was over to have it evaluated. At that point it was 9 cm in diameter. Impossible to know, of course, but I can’t help but wonder if her prognosis would have been better had she been diagnosed earlier.

Erika:

Your information that Ms. Edwards’ tumor was 9 cm. when evaluated is a real eye-opener. That is a large breast tumor, at least Stage 3, and would be considered advanced disease. I don’t know whether the delay in evaluation would have made a difference in her case, but immediate diagnosis and treatment would have improved her odds.

This ENTIRE article isn’t about Elizabeth OR Kim. It’s about defending conventional oncology and bolstering the belief in SBM.

It attacks Kim’s choices and glorifies Elizabeth’s. They both had cancer. They both died.

The tragedy is that Edwards was, through no fault of her own, on the “wrong” side of that survival curve. Based on random chance alone, she was one of the unlucky 20%.

She (Tinkham) was simply fortunate enough to have taken nearly four years to do it, lasting longer than the estimated 2.7 year median survival of untreated breast cancer.

So all ORAC can do is pull the “luck card” for an explanation? I guess the “luck card” for an SBMer is kinda like the “god card” for a believer.

Hmm…now I can’t find where I read that. I read a number of obits yesterday, but perhaps someone made an error & corrected it? NYTimes says it was the size of a half-dollar, which is still large, but nowhere near 9 cm.
http://nyti.ms/gQHIcA

In any case, my main reason for bringing attention to that is in response to those like Augustine who would hold her death up as evidence of the failure of “western medicine.” If she’d been diagnosed & begun treatment earlier, things might have been different.

I strongly recommend the new book, The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee. It will leave you with no doubt that Kim’s treatment was sheer hokum. The book reads like a who-done-it, a complete history of medicine’s evolving understanding of cancer and how to treat it. By the way, I am an eleven year survivor of breast cancer.

To everyone…

My heart is breaking. My friend is gone.

The argument should not be what she chose as her path. If you want to battle those you consider “quacks”, do so…but not at this dear lady’s expense.

No medical treatment is infalliable. There will never be a guarantee for a true cure. No one can provide that. Perhaps the medical option may be statistically more successful…but no guarantee.

Our medical system functions on hypothesis, and theory, and occassionally a law that is completely proven. Cancer treatment isn’t a law…it is a hope, a theory…. It has it successes. It has it failures.

Kim considered her options, and chose (for a variety of reasons known to her) to take her chances with a non-traditional method. She didn’t seek “WOO”…she sought hope. She sought to live life to its fullest. She sought to fight the battle on her own ground. She choose to be lucid and not doped up and not spend thousands and thousands of dollars on possible operations, drugs and chemotherapy type treatments hoping for a cure. She considered not only today…but the future of her family. She chose to be surrounded and loved by her family and friends. And in the years since her original diagnosis, Kim did what she did everyday before that…she truly lived!

Many people opt to do so. That this differs from your choices shouldn’t make you angry, especially without a true outcome guarantee of a cure with either method.

There are a lot of battles out there worth fighting. Let’s get medical inurance so that it is reasonable and affordable for everyone. Let’s find a CURE for cancer. Let’s solve the homeless and education issues in our country. Let’s find better uses of our natural resources. And of course there is always the desire for World Peace.

Many many years from now, someone will look back at the medical treatments we currently try for those diagnosed with cancer…and these treatment too will be considered “Woo”.

Erika:

If she’d been diagnosed & begun treatment earlier, things might have been different.

http://www.moviewavs.com/php/sounds/?id=bst&media=WAVS&type=Movies&movie=Napoleon_Dynamite&quote=fourthquarter.txt&file=fourthquarter.wav

Uncle Rico: “Yeah, If coach would’ve put me in fourth quarter, we’d have been state champions, no doubt. No doubt in my mind. You better believe things would have been different. I’d have gone pro in a heartbeat. I’d be makin’ millions of dollars and livin’ in a big ol’ mansion somewhere. You know, soakin’ it up in a hot tub with my soul mate.”

Angel Tessier:

She didn’t seek “WOO”…she sought hope.

Then explain why there are videos of her talking to Robert O. Young. Tell us exactly how he is qualified after buying a diploma from the now closed Clayton College.

Actually prove to us that you read and understand the criticism of Mr. Young.

As for the “cure for cancer”, need we remind you that it is not one disease. It is several diseases. Here, look at this because it will help you understand: Tales from the Road.

Angel… there are so many fundamentally wrong things in your latest post (that have already been addressed by Orac no less) that I’m frankly not sure how to respond. All I can suggest is that you make an effort to go back and actually read what people have been saying on the posts about Kim. I find it frankly insulting that you think what Orac has been doing has been at Kim’s ‘expense’.

Angel Tessier:

I think I can speak for most of us commenting here when I say that we are not angry with Kim Tinkham for her choices. We are angry at those who told her lies and gave her false hope while blithely taking her money and using her story for self-promotion. We find it particularly appalling that at the end of Kim’s life, these same people turned their backs on her, blaming her for her condition and erasing her from their websites. I cannot understand how a friend can stand by and not be moved to fury by such dealings.

“I cannot understand how a friend can stand by and not be moved to fury by such dealings.”

I don’t think her friends understand the seriousness of her situation; this is not a case of a woman simply taking ‘her chances with a non-traditional method’ but rather a case of Kim being deceived by both Rhonda Byrne’s book as well as scammed out of her money by Robert O. Young, both of them only too happy to peddle false hope to vulnerable people in a time of need. Instead of choosing a method that could have saved her, she was suckered into pseudoscience by quacks. I know I would be livid with rage if I found out a friend of mine was abused this way, and I would sure as hell want to make them answer for their crimes.

I just want to second T. Bruce’s comment. It is exactly how I feel, but worded far more elegantly than something written by me.

Orac said in his post that Kim was an exceptional woman. She believed wholeheartedly in someone who was taking advantage of her, which is infuriating. She should have lived longer.

I think it’s important for all of Kim’s friends who think that Orac is out to ‘wrong’ Kim in some way read comment #10 in this thread:

http://respectfulinsolence.com/2008/01/a_horrifying_breast_cancer_testimonial_f.php

“Kim is my [REDACTED]. She is an intelligent, strong woman, and is inspiring for her family, especially her younger sisters. But when I heard last year that she had breast cancer and was going to treat it with alternative medicine – I had my own vision. I had a vision of walking up to our grandmother, her parents and all our family, and looking at their tear filled eyes during her funeral.

She announced recently to us that she was cured. Since I don’t believe in miracles, I doubted if she’d ever had cancer in the first place. But according to this article, she really was diagnosed with breast cancer – and still has it. She truly believes she is cured. It makes my heart sink.

Now I hear that her parents plan to start the special “Dr. Young Diet” she’s been on for the past year. Although I don’t subscribe to any “woo woo”, I do think that her strict diet and exercise routine probably has resulted in her situation not getting any or much worse for the moment. Kim has amazing self-discipline, but I fear it won’t be enough to save her life.” – [NAME REDACTED] | January 9, 2008 3:00 PM

Elizabeth Edwards had focused in recent years on advocating health care reform, often wondering aloud about the plight of those who faced the same of kind of physical struggles she did but without her personal wealth.

And then her doppleganger said this:

“If this isn’t dealt with by tomorrow, everyone’s health care at the PAC will be cut off until it’s fixed,” [Elizabeth Edwards] barked. “I don’t care if nobody has health care until John and I do!”

Elizabeth Edwards had focused in recent years on advocating health care reform, often wondering aloud about the plight of those who faced the same of kind of physical struggles she did but without her personal wealth.

And then her doppleganger said this:

“If this isn’t dealt with by tomorrow, everyone’s health care at the PAC will be cut off until it’s fixed,” [Elizabeth Edwards] barked. “I don’t care if nobody has health care until John and I do!”

Poor Tinkham. She could still do some good if she’s chronicled her suffering through many of those woo-laden years. However, for the most part physicians are honest and will tell the patient that the disease is horrible and that the treatments are pretty horrible too. The woo peddlers claim they have magic treatments which are not awful like that science-based stuff. Unfortunately too many people believe the fantasy and ignore the horrible reality.

I can see where Angel’s impassioned plea comes from. And I am sure it makes sense from that internal perspective. But the point we are all trying to make is not that we are angry at her choices. As a future physician I would be saddened at a patient choosing not to treat a disease at all and die from its natural course. But I would respect that decision as being fully informed. What we are fighting against is the notion that her decision to listen to Young was anything other than complete ignorance and confabulation by Young himself. You correctly state that medical science currently does not have a 100% effective cure for all breast cancer. Yet you incorrectly assert that this means medical science doesn’t know what it is talking about and it is all just a matter of “chance.” Suddenly Young’s idea that cancer is caused by acid becomes a “search for hope and a chance at life.” But while medical science does not yet have the answer for ALL cancer, we do know a LOT about it. And we know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the notion that cancer is caused by acid and can be cured by leading an alkaline diet is completely and utterly wrong. There is absolutely no question about this. And THAT is what makes it woo. The cure for cancer will come from the rigorous exploration of scientific fact – not the willy nilly “chance” that baking soda may cure breast cancer or that colonics and pancreatic enzyme supplements with macrobiotics can cure pancreatic cancer. As long as people do not understand this distinction, smart, robust people will look at someone like Young and someone like Orac and feel justified in saying that they are both doctors offering hope for a cure from cancer and that their methods both have failures and choosing one or the other is a completely rational and reasonable alternative. What is missing is the fact that concrete empirical fact has shown us that Young’s ideas are irrefutably wrong and that ANY pursuit down his path is NOT hope – it is completely misguided wishful thinking.

I will end by expounding on my previous point. When I was in high school, we had a display from D.A.R.E. and M.A.D.D. where a car that was totally wrecked in a nasty car accident was on campus. They put up a photo of the driver – a 17 year old girl from our community who had died just a month prior – on the car. She had been drinking and then drove head on into another car and killed that driver as well. Everyone was sad at her death. Nobody looked at her and said “she deserved it for drinking and driving.” But everyone, including her family, were quick to use her as an example to what can happen when you do not make informed and rational decisions. Her choice to drink and then drive, herself not fully understanding the consequences, was questioned and used as an opportunity for the rest of us to learn and to (hopefully) not drink and drive ourselves. Nobody came and said that maybe it wasn’t her drinking that was the problem, and that even sober people die in car accidents too. Nobody tried to say it was her “choice” to do so and that it was completely equivalent to any other option. The difference is only that the case of drinking and driving is very clear cut, simple, and easy to understand. There is not much minutiae necessary for a deep enough understanding to make a truly informed decision about driving while intoxicated. Breast cancer (and much of medicine) is much more nuanced and complex and requires a deeper understanding to fully appreciate the consequences and likelihoods of outcomes. Shedding light on that reality is what we here are all trying to do and is just as important for saving lives as showing some teenagers a wrecked car and a picture of a dead 17 year old girl.

The fact that it is a difficult and understandably emotional thing to do is not carte blanche to keep re-iterating the same non-points over and over. If you truly did care about this woman, it should be an opportunity for you to truly understand what and why the people are saying – to look at the actual facts for yourself so that you and others you love wont have to go through the same tragedy that Kim (and her friends and family) have gone through.

Start by asking yourself if a mail order degree from a now discredited and defunct “college” and 2 charges of medical fraud make for a good second opinion.

@ nybgrus:

If you truly did care about this woman, it should be an opportunity for you to truly understand…

This is exactly the sort of comment which is rather hurtful to her friends and family at this particular time. Let’s all try to be respectful of their grief. I’m quite sure Angel cared very much about Kim, and it’s not at all helpful to (even inadvertently) suggest otherwise.

Agreed. I don’t like to hear such things in my comments. It’s very, very disturbing to see my commenters accusing friends of Kim Tinkham of not caring for her.

Kim’s friends:

Stay off the internet for a few days. Give each other a call. Call Kim’s family. Kim was a wonderful, loving person. Tell funny stories about her. Talk about the time you spent with her. Laugh. Cry. Grieve. Ignore this blog. Ignore other blogs. Ignore the idiot trolls. Ignore the world for awhile.

Angel Tessier:

She didn’t seek “WOO”…she sought hope.

Then explain why there are videos of her talking to Robert O. Young. Tell us exactly how he is qualified after buying a diploma from the now closed Clayton College.

Actually prove to us that you read and understand the criticism of Mr. Young.

She doesn’t haven’t to prove or explain anything to you. You’re being distasteful and rude. Why don’t you just keep playing seargent at arms and self appointed “necromancer” police.

Lovely. Now we have John Heileman showing up to piss on Elizabeth Edwards’ grave with his muckraking book. Stay classy, John. Stay classy.

“So all ORAC can do is pull the “luck card” for an explanation? I guess the “luck card” for an SBMer is kinda like the “god card” for a believer.”
augustine,unless a treatment has a 100% success rate, then BY DEFINITION, some people taking the threatment will die.

micheal

augustine,unless a treatment has a 100% success rate, then BY DEFINITION, some people taking the threatment will die.

40,000 should not be considered “some”.

Um, John Heilemann has two n’s. It’s probably some troll who doesn’t know how to spell his name pretending he’s him.

Perhaps the same troll is posting that stuff elsewhere. There is some reason for this reaction on NPR:

And there was constant sniping at her from anonymous sources. Anyone who read “Game Change,” the book by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin, couldn’t help notice the very negative portrait of her; it described her as churlish, rude and vindictive.

Interesting that the sources were anonymous.

Anyway, I read her obituary in the paper this morning. It was so sad, especially about her son. After the accident they did not change anything in his room, and sometimes she would lie down next to his grave. She is being buried next to him. It is all so terribly sad.

“So all ORAC can do is pull the “luck card” for an explanation? I guess the “luck card” for an SBMer is kinda like the “god card” for a believer.”

Some people who always wear safety belts die in car accidents.

Some people who never wear them may survive just fine.

Yet only an idiot would conclude from those facts that there is no point wearing a safety belt, as it is all luck anyway.

There is a chance element in life that we cannot avoid. Wise people try to minimise bad luck, and maximise the possible good, but it’s never a sure thing.

“So all ORAC can do is pull the “luck card” for an explanation? I guess the “luck card” for an SBMer is kinda like the “god card” for a believer.”

Citing “Luck” in this century IS disturbing. After guys like Orac do their job (snip, snip), I’ve found the medical oncologists a little slow to utilize the existing science literature well(eg. last 20 yrs) to apply some highly cost effective treatments on a (cheap biomarker) molecular basis for their treatments where I mean $2-4 per month for a generic drug, vs $XXXX per month for FDA approved snake oils that have worrisome side effects.

prn:

little slow to utilize the existing science literature well(eg. last 20 yrs) to apply some highly cost effective treatments on a (cheap biomarker) molecular basis for their treatments where I mean $2-4 per month for a generic drug, vs $XXXX per month for FDA approved snake oils that have worrisome side effects.

Please be more specific about what you are talking about. What are the inexpensive treatments and what are the “snake oils”? Try to post the the evidence, or you will not be taken seriously.

Some people who always wear safety belts die in car accidents.

Some people who never wear them may survive just fine.

Yet only an idiot would conclude from those facts that there is no point wearing a safety belt, as it is all luck anyway.

There is a chance element in life that we cannot avoid. Wise people try to minimise bad luck, and maximise the possible good, but it’s never a sure thing.

Wow! another seatbelt gambit analogy yet this time it’s with oncology. So chemotherapy is like a seatbelt to this scienceblogger?HMMMM!

I wonder what would happen if all healthy people got chemo, radiation, and or surgery, for “prevention”?

And the critical thinking skills continue to erode in this group of science bloggers.

Example: An old biomarker, CA19-9, correlates highly with improved survival in various solid carcinomas adding a generic drug that is a VEGF inhibitor, EGF signaling inhibitor, unmasks dendritic cells, and stimulates granulocytic attack. It’s not FDA approved, never will be under the current structure.

Figs A (CSLEX) and D (CA19-9) for colorectal cancer. The 5FU portion (ca 1989) of the following paper is superceded by other oral 5FU chemo, but p=0.0001 might be interesting:
http://www.nature.com/bjc/journal/v86/n2/fig_tab/6600048f3.html#figure-title

Subsequent research indicates high CA19-9 biomarker (cheap marker) results combined with high CSLEX biomarker results may be a quantitative treatment indicator in, at least, stage III CRCs.

Vs not-so-impressive mabs for VEGF and EGFR inhibition with expensive testing for a lower population percentage AND expensive treatment for mostly poor results with significant side effects. The pharmas appear to be belatedly copying the VEGF and EGF application of the unacknowledged, cheap predecessor, poorly.

Whereas, an oncologists’ group meeting dropping in on my social turf earlier this summer were absorbing the latest incentive scheme of the relevant multinational pushing bevacizumab for breast cancer, contemporaneous with the FDA’s deprecation.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: