I follow some Australian skeptics’ blogs, mainly because of Meryl Dorey, the lunatic who runs the Anti-Vaccination movement in Australia. One of the better ones is Dan’s Journal of Skepticism, run by Dan Buzzard. He writes on a lot of issues with regards to pseudoscience, mostly in medicine. Earlier this year, he wrote about how a homeopath, Francine Scrayen, treated her “patient”, Penelope Dingle, who was suffering from rectal cancer, with homeopathic potions and lotions.
In the report on Ms. Dingle’s death, the Coroner for Perth (Australia) reported the following:
In my view the deceased’s rectal cancer was present and causing bleeding and other symptoms from at least 31 October 2001. During the period 31 October 2001 until at least the end of November 2002, the deceased regularly described the symptoms of her rectal cancer to a homeopath, Francine Scrayen. It was not until November 2002 that Mrs Scrayen and the deceased discussed the possibility of reporting her rectal bleeding to a medical practitioner and it was not until 5 December 2002 that she first reported those problems to a doctor.
I accept that Mrs Scrayen believed that the deceased had suffered from haemorrhoids years earlier and the bleeding and pain was “an old symptom coming back”, but a competent health professional would have been alarmed by the developing symptoms and would have strongly advised that appropriate medical investigations be conducted without delay.
Mrs Scrayen was not a competent health professional. I accept that Mrs Scrayen had minimal understanding of relevant health issues, unfortunately that did not prevent her from treating the deceased as a patient.
This case has highlighted the importance of patients suffering from cancer making informed, sound decisions in relation to their treatment. In this case the deceased paid a terrible price for poor decision making.
Unfortunately the deceased was surrounded by misinformation and poor science. Although her treating surgeon and mainstream general practitioner provided clear and reliable information, she received mixed messages from a number of different sources which caused her to initially delay necessary surgery and ultimately decide not to have surgery until it was too late.
Francine Scrayen was and is an incompetent person, and is mostly culpable for the death of Ms. Dingle. Cancer is not a trivial matter, it must be attacked quickly. The five year survival rate for rectal cancer is around 50-60%, if the disease is caught early. If the cancer is caught during the earliest signs (bleeding rectum), the survival rate can be nearly 100%. Yes, most signs and symptoms of cancers mimic very innocuous diseases, but only a real doctor with real training can rule out more serious diseases.
Ms Dingle might have still chosen the pseudoscientific way of treatment and subsequently died, but she should have been informed of the the gold standard of medicine. Scrayen’s unethical decision to not get Dingle to a real physician lead directly to Dingle’s death. Period.
Last week Dan Buzzard wrote another article, Homeopath Francine Scrayen in court for the death of her “patient”, which factually states that Penelope Dingle’s sister, Toni Brown, is suing the witch doctor, errrr homeopath, for killing Dingle.
All sounds good to me. Until today. The lawyer representing Scrayen, using a suppression of the freedom of speech (not sure how it’s ingrained into the laws of Australia, but I’m assuming it’s pretty strong) to attack Buzzard. Because Francine Scrayen lacks no evidence or basis for her homeopathic potions, her only alternative is to suppress the truth. That’s not going to happen.
Francine Scrayen sends me a Cease and Desist.
Thursday, April 5, 2012 at 4:47PM
It looks like two of my previous blog posts have upset Ms Scrayen to the point where she is willing to call in the lawyers. Of course nobody likes such harsh criticism of their business practices, especially when they are already surrounded by intense public scrutiny.
Ms Scrayen is so strongly opposed to my opinions and criticisms of her that she even wants me to remove them from my blog.
I have no desire to publish inaccuracies and posting such a retraction would be doing just that. My opinions and criticisms of Francine Scrayen are based upon the facts surrounding the death of Penelope Dingle and I am more than willing to defend them in court if need be.
Ms Scrayen may be unhappy with what I’ve written about her, but I will not be removing it unless it is shown to be false. If Ms Scrayen thinks she can silence my criticism with lawyers then she is in for some disappointment.
I’m sure Ms Scrayen will read this so I’ll make this perfectly clear. You cannot silence legitimate criticism with lawyers. If you can prove the Homeopathy works and is effective for treating cancer, as Penelope Dingle was led to believe. Then I will gladly make the necessary corrections to maintain the accuracy of my blog. But if you want to sell unproven medicines to vulnerable cancer patients then you can expect to be justifiably criticised for it; especially if the patient then dies due to your ineffective treatment.
Support Dan Buzzard by either re-blogging his comments, or just writing a quick note on the absolute craziness of this situation. Francine Scrayen killed Penelope Dingle by keeping her from the truth of the cancer. In the USA, that’s considered callous disregard for human life, which is a serious felony. Too bad she’s not here, where we have prosecutors who would be glad to send her to prison.