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The Cancer Sell

Taking an electric shaver, I ploughed through my hair until it was all gone. I then punched a hole in the side of my handbag, stuck a tiny lens through it, securing it with gaffer tape and drove to the medical clinic in Tijuana, Mexico. The doctor was not expecting me. He emerged from the building in a T-shirt, but sensing a potential client, welcomed me into his office and began explaining how he could save my life. By Sarah Macdonald.

Last year I was diagnosed with breast cancer. It turned out I had a 13cm tumour in my left breast that seemed to come from nowhere. I underwent chemotherapy, a mastectomy and then intensive radiotherapy that left me drained and exhausted. Fortunately it worked and my condition went into remission, but throughout it all I spent hours on the internet searching for websites that could give me my statistical chances of survival. They always came out at 50/50.

Alongside the cancer chat rooms and online supplements stores I came across a plethora of websites promoting alternative cancer therapy clinics, many based in Tijuana, Mexico. They offer an eclectic range of treatments – everything from hyperthermia and Sono Photo Dynamic therapy to the more widely known Laetrile (cyanide derived from the apricot kernel) and shark cartilage. Over the last 40 years these clinics have attracted high profile names like Farah Fawcett, the actor Steve McQueen and, more controversially, the wife of civil rights campaigner Martin Luther King Jr. Coretta Scott King had advanced ovarian cancer. In 2006, she booked into a clinic called Hospital Santa Monica under an assumed name and died there three days later.

This film came about because I wanted to find out more, to investigate these treatments and the clinics behind them. At first it seemed easy enough. The facilities promote their services through glossy brochures and online video testimonials, such as one from a woman called Lorraine Weaver, who describes how she reacted to suggestions for conventional medical treatment for lung cancer: “They said they were going to do chemo and radiation and I said I don’t think so. I walked out and called my niece and she said you go to Oasis of Hope … and I came down and I was cured and I thank God every day, don’t ever give up hope.”

Duration: 25:06
Language: EN
Resolution max: 720p
Video Source: YouTube
Provided by: Al Jazeera English
Published on: 2012-01-15
Rating: 1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars
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Ø Rating: 3.50