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Death by “alternative” medicine: Who’s to blame? (Revisited)

(NOTE: There is now an addendum to this post.)

(NOTE #2: The videos of Robert O. Young’s interview with Kim Tinkham have been removed, as I predicted in this post that they would be. Fortunately, I downloaded copies before he managed to do that. Part 6 appears to be still there–for now.)

(NOTE #3: It was announced on the Facebook page Caring for Kim that the subject of this post, Kim Tinkham, passed away on December 7, 2010 in the late afternoon. Although it was not revealed what kind of cancer she died of, Tinkham almost certainly died from metastatic breast cancer. Quackery appears to have claimed another victim.)

I hate stories like this. I really do. I hate them with a burning passion that makes it hard for me to see straight when I first find out about them.

In fact, you might even say that stories like this are a major part of the reason why I do what I do, both here and elsewhere. They’re a major part of the reason why I’ve recently branched out into public speaking, something that used to terrify me beyond belief but that lately I’ve become at least competent at–sometimes even not bad at all. Sadly, the story I’m about to tell is one I’ve told before, most recently at the Lorne Trottier Science Symposium, where I gave a talk on cancer cure “testimonials,” although at the time I gave the talk the story’s outcome, although predictable, was not yet known.

Now it is.

The woman to whom I refer is named Kim Tinkham, who was diagnosed with breast cancer over three and a half years ago. Regular readers may recall that Kim Tinkham achieved fame not long after that when she was featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show in an episode about The Secret, an episode I discussed posts entitled The Oprah-fication of Medicine and On the nature of “alternative” medicine cancer cure testimonials. I don’t want to discuss the utter nonsense that is The Secret in any detail here. However, for those unfamiliar with this particular bit of New Age woo, it’s important to point out that The Secret’s “Law of Attraction” takes the germ of a reasonable idea (namely that one’s attitudes and wishes influence whether one gets what one wants in life, something that’s been known for millennia) and goes off the deep end of woo by proclaiming that, in essence, you can get anything you want by wanting it badly enough and thinking positive thoughts. Basically “The Secret” is that you have the power to “attract” good to yourself by thinking happy thoughts (hence “the law of attraction,” which, according to Secret adherents always works). It’s an idea that resonates in so much of “alternative medicine,” such as German New Medicine or Biologie Totale. Of course, the implication of “Secret” thinking is that, if you don’t get what you want, it’s your fault, an idea that also resonates with so much “alternative” medicine, where a frequent excuse for failure is that the patient either didn’t follow the regimen closely enough or didn’t want it badly enough.

Basically, The Secret is what inspired Kim Tinkham to eschew all conventional therapy for her breast cancer and pursue “alternative” therapies, which is what she has done since 2007. Before I discuss her case in more detail, I’m going to cut to the chase, though.

This weekend, I learned that Kim Tinkham’s cancer has recurred and that she is dying. On Saturday, a reader of my other blog sent me an e-mail that informed me:

Our dear friend, Kim Tinkham, has been diagnosed with cancer. Kim’s friends and family have established a benefit account at Citibank to assist the Tinkhams with expenses during this difficult time.

The accompanying e-mail referred me to a website called Caring for Kim, which led me to related Twitter and Facebook pages. In addition, on the FaceBook page, there was a flyer:

I can’t tell you how much this depressed me. Granted, neither the website, the Twitter feed, nor the Facebook page confirmed the details of the story told by the person who e-mailed me. However, the nature of the comments on Facebook page did strongly suggest to me that it is true, as there are a number of supportive posts offering prayers of support and urging Tinkham to “keep up the fight” and be hopeful. At the very least, the Facebook page strongly suggested that something is very, very wrong with Tinkham’s health and that it has to do with her cancer coming back. Over the weekend, I have since confirmed, to the best of my ability, that the story related to me by my reader appears to be true. Kim Tinkham is dying of cancer. Most likely what has happened is that, after nearly four years of quack treatments, Tinkham’s breast cancer finally metastasized to what are, let’s face it, the most common sites to which breast cancer metastasizes, bone, liver, and lung. (One source told me that she had “cancer” in those sites but did not specify what kind.) The reports I’ve read suggest that Tinkham is not expected to live to see 2011.

And so it goes. Another quack appears to have claimed another victim.

Breast Cancer, The Secret, and Oprah

I first learned of Kim Tinkham from a testimonial that I read back in early 2008. Here is Kim’s story as related by her:

After a mammogram and a biopsy, Tinkham’s doctor told her that she has stage three breast cancer. That moment, she said, was one of the rare times in her life that she broke down and didn’t know what to do.

“My 50th birthday was a milestone. I started thinking, ‘What am I going to do for the next 50 years?’ I never, ever planned for this,” Tinkham said. “I’m not someone who breaks down. It was a scary time for me and it wasn’t a situation I wanted to deal with, but it wasn’t going to go away. I had that feeling of hopelessness and that feeling when you finally realize, ‘I’m not immortal.'”

Her doctors wanted to perform a partial mastectomy immediately, as well as remove her lymph nodes. She had 15 minutes to call her husband before going through more tests and discussing a combative plan.

This was very typical of breast cancer testimonials. There is the diagnosis. Then, the doctors seemingly pressure the patient into surgery, heedless of what she wants. Whether true or not, the woman perceives it to be this way. Be that as it may, when I first encountered it, this story gave me a fair amount of information, even as vague as it was, assuming that the information contained in it was true. Stage III breast cancer told me that at least one of two things must be true: Either the tumor must have been large (greater than 5 cm in diameter), and/or there must have been significant lymph node involvement. Also, from this story, we could reasonably conclude that, if Tinkham’s account was accurate, her tumor was stage IIIA, because stage IIIB and IIIC are by definition not operable; they require chemotherapy first to shrink them. Finally, we can assume that, whatever the status of her nodes, the primary tumor must not have been that much larger than 5 cm, because otherwise a partial mastectomy without preoperative chemotherapy to shrink the tumor would not have been possible.

The next step of the testimonial was the “courageous” decision to “go alternative”:

Hours and hours of research followed, and Tinkham realized that an alternative solution would be best for her.

“I knew, for me, the best route would be alternative. I don’t like surgery. I guess I don’t like the loss of control,” Tinkham said. “After thinking about it, there’s a quality of life that is involved. It’s not about just existing. For me, the quality wouldn’t be there if I had the surgery and went through the other things. I decided not to do it. That was a big step.”

In deciding to treat cancer without surgeries and chemotherapy, she had to tell her husband, Scott, son, Garrett, and her family and friends.

I really hate when this happens, because a woman who decides to forgo effective conventional therapy in favor of quackery is giving up her single best shot at surviving her cancer. This was not at that time a woman with metastatic disease that was incurable. Patients with stage IIIA cancer, although they don’t have the best prognosis in the world, are definitely eminently curable with conventional therapy. Unfortunately, Tinkham found one Robert O. Young, whom I’ve discussed here, at TAM7, and at the Trottier Symposium. Young is a proponent of the pseudoscientific idea that essentially all disease is due to “excess acidity” and can therefore be treated with alkalinization. In essence, “Dr.” Young peddles acid-base pseudoscience and the belief that cancer is a “liquid.” One reason that women with breast cancer who decide to opt for “alternative treatment” come to believe that their treatment cured them is because they have had a biopsy that completely excised the tumor. Remember, radiation and chemotherapy only decrease the chance of the tumor recurring after lumpectomy; the lumpectomy itself cures cancer in a significant proportion of cases. However, Tinkham did not undergo an exicisonal biopsy or lumpectomy, only Young’s unscientific and useless treatments. So, after “hyperalkalinizing” her body by changing her diet radically and imbibing all sorts of supplements, did Tinkham’s tumor shrink radically?

No:

She can still feel the tumor just underneath the surface of her skin, where it will probably remain for a while.

But she knows it’s harmless. Now, it’s simply her badge of honor – the reminder that she, Kim Tinkham, defeated cancer without any surgery, invasive procedures, radiation or chemotherapy.

The tumor was still there! Note also that no mention was made of whether the tumor had grown or shrunk. What was most likely going on was that Tinkham was (at the time) fortunate enough to have developed a relatively indolent, slow-growing tumor. So, if the tumor was still there and it was not obviously shrinking, how on earth could Young tell Tinkham that her tumor was gone? Here’s how:

A recent blood test proved that the stage three breast cancer diagnosed in February is absent from her body. But she really didn’t need a blood test to tell her that. Just hours after she had her blood taken for the test, and days before she knew the results, she was confident that her new lifestyle had allowed her body to fight the cancer.

There is no blood test that can tell a woman that she is breast cancer free. None. Moreover, even if she did have a blood test that told her she is tumor free, if the tumor is still there, she should pay attention to the tumor, not to any dubious “blood test” that a dubious practitioner represents to her as having any validity whatsoever in determining the status of her tumor.

How anyone could believe this testimonial is beyond me. Then I did a seearch on Tinkham’s name, and it became clear in accounts of how Oprah Winfrey had Tinkham on her show to discuss her decision to treat her breast cancer with “natural” methods that Tinkham really, really believes in The Secret. The same sort of wishful thinking that led her to fall for nonsense such as the “Law of Attraction” has led her to fall for the science-free nonsense that Young is telling her about her cancer.

Kim Tinkham 2010: Maybe the naysayers (like me) were wrong

After I first heard her testimonial in 2008, so often, I did some Googling about Kim Tinkham. I was happy to see that she actually did quite well for quite a long period of time. The reason I was happy for her was because, as long as the cancer had not metastasized, there was still a chance that Tinkham would see the light and seek out science-based treatment. There was still a chance that she could beat her cancer and live out her natural lifespan. Granted, the chance was probably decreasing by the month, but there was still a chance. By this summer, Tinkham had been alive with her breast cancer diagnosis for well over three years without any treatment other than Young’s acid-base woo. Unfortunately, this level of success also led Kim to believe that her cancer truly was gone, so much so that she started writing a book about her experience entitled Cancer Angel, which had been scheduled to be published this month. Something happened, though, and for some reason Tinkham didn’t get it published and instead uploaded 14 chapters to her blog in May.

In March, she also taped an interview with Robert O. Young and his wife:

In case Dr. Young tries to throw these down the memory hole, I have downloaded copies to my hard drive.

When I first saw these videos, I wondered if I could find out more about what was going on. One thing that Tinkham kept repeating again and again is that she was diagnosed with “stage III” breast cancer. In the video above, Young and his wife kept harping on that again and again. The three of them also complain again and again that there “weren’t any options.” My retort would be: Of course, there were options! Tinkham just didn’t like any of the options presented to her. If the tumor was Stage IIIA (which has been my working hypothesis since I first found out about Kim Tinkham’s story), then there was the option of surgery first. This would have included mastectomy and axillary lymph node dissection (i.e., modified radical mastectomy) or, in the case of a woman with–there’s no way to put this very delicately–very large breasts, it might also have been possible to do a lumpectomy with removal of the axillary lymph nodes. Afterward, chemotherapy and radiation would be indicated. Alternatively, if the tumor was too large to do a lumpectomy, breast conserving therapy might still have been possible if chemotherapy were given first to shrink the tumor. In all cases, if Tinkham’s tumor makes the estrogen receptor, then treatment would have been followed up with five years of Tamoxifen or an aromatase inhibitor, and if the tumor makes the HER2/neu oncogene, Herceptin would have been administered for a year.

Those, for the most part, are the choices, outside of unusual cases. All of these choices would have involved some combination of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy ± anti-estrogen therapy (Tamoxifen or aromatase inhibitors depending on whether Tinkham was postmenopausal yet) ± Herceptin. Tinkham rejected them. I can understand that she was afraid of them. None of these therapies are pleasant. It would probably have taken her around 6 months or so to get through all of them. She might have suffered complications; she would definitely have lost her hair. But these treatments work.

One thing I found interesting is how Young actually asked some reasonable questions at about the 4:00 mark. He asked if the tumor was aggressive, if it was hormone receptor positive (estrogen receptor positive, in other words). I’d ask the same questions, particularly whether the tumor is ER(+), because that would tell me the most. Some ER(+) tumors, after all, can be very indolent, even when they present fairly advanced. If her tumor were ER(-), I’d be a lot more worried that it was a fast-growing tumor. Then Tinkham said:

I remember them saying something about its being in situ, but, other than that…

If this was true, then Kim Tinkham by definition did not have stage III breast cancer. Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) is by definition cancerous cells in the ducts that have not yet invaded into the breast tissue. By definition, DCIS is considered stage 0 cancer and has a close to 100% five year survival. If Tinkham really did have DCIS, then it’s not at all surprising that she’s still doing well three years later.

In retrospect, it’s obvious that Tinkham almost certainly had invasive cancer, although it is possible that her DCIS progressed to invasive cancer over three years. It also sounds as though her surgeons wanted to remove all the lymph nodes under the arm, which they would not have wanted to do if she didn’t have at least one positive lymph node. It is, of course, is quite possible that, given her lack of detail regarding what kind of cancer she had, Tinkham might well have been confusing the sentinel lymph node biopsy, in which one or a handful of lymph nodes were are removed for testing, with a complete axillary dissection, where all the lymph nodes under the arm are removed. Most stage III cancers require an axillary dissection, while tumors with clinically negative lymph nodes (i.e., lymph nodes that appear normal on physical examination, mammography, and ultrasound) are usually tested with sentinel lymph node biopsy. Sometimes for large DCIS, we do sentinel lymph node biopsies even though DCIS does not in general metastasize to the lymph nodes, because large DCIS lesions often harbor small foci of invasive breast cancer. You don’t want to miss evaluating the lymph nodes at the time of the original surgery, because if the surgery is a mastectomy you can’t go back later and do a sentinel lymph node biopsy. You have to go back and take all the nodes.

One thing about Tinkham’s testimonial as related in the videos that did resonate with me is that she felt rushed. Sometimes we surgeons do that, whether inadvertently or intentionally. Personally, I try very hard not to rush my patients. In most cases I tell them that they have time to decide, that there’s no huge rush, although I would hope they wouldn’t take more than a month to make up their minds. There are exceptions, of course. Nasty cancers that are ER(-)/PR(-)/HER2(-), so-called “triple negative” disease. These tumors tend to be aggressive and fast growing; so I don’t want to fart around. I want to get these women treated. But even for these women, except in uncommon cases, a week or two (or even three) probably won’t make a difference. If there’s one thing we physicians do that can drive cancer patients into the waiting arms of quacks, it’s to rush patients too much. True, there are cancers where delay really is fatal, but breast cancer is usually (but not always) a tumor for which the patient has the luxury of a fair amount of time to decide on a course of action.

Not surprisingly, Tinkham did what Jenny McCarthy did, and attended the University of Google. As she says in her testimonial, she Googled everything having to do with breast cancer, and she repeats how personal choice is the big thing for her. Another thing that resonated with me is that Tinkham kept asking doctors what caused her breast cancer, her criterion apparently being that if someone could tell her what caused her breast cancer she would listen to that person. The problem with this question is not the question but rather not accepting the answer, namely that science, while it does know a lot about what causes breast cancer, can’t (yet) really say what caused any individual patient’s cancer. That’s the honest answer, and that’s what I tell patients every week when I’m in clinic: I don’t know what caused your cancer. I do know the sorts of things that cause or predispose to cancer, but I don’t know what caused yours. I do, however, know how to treat your breast cancer, the odds of success, and the potential complications.

That’s honesty. It’s also humility in the face of biology that we only partially understand.

It’s also based on the realization that breast cancer has a highly variable biology from patient to patient. Because it’s important to understand the natural history of breast cancer, I’ll reference a classic study examining the natural history of untreated breast cancer. It was published in 1962 by H. J. G. Bloom, W. W. Richardson, and E. J. Harries, and examined data from Middlesex Hospital from 1805 to 1933 where 250 cases of untreated breast cancer were identified and studied. They calculated survival as the period of time from onset of symptoms to death. What they found was that 18% of the 250 patients survived five years; 3.6% survived 10 years; and 0.8% survived 15 years. Of note, it was 19 years before all patients were dead. Overall, the median survival was 2.7 years. A survival graph from this classic paper is below:

Fig1

I’ve discussed these issues in much more detail here.

In constrast to science-based practitioners, who are forced to be honest and admit the limits of their knowledge, it’s “practitioners” I consider to be quacks who “know” what causes cancer and lack the humility to admit the limits of their knowledge. Many of them focus on The One True Cause of Cancer, as Hulda Clark did when she declared a common liver fluke to be the cause of all cancer or when Robert O. Young declares that all cancer is caused by “excess acid,” which “spoils” cells and that the cancerous tumor is the body’s reaction to the cells “poisoned” by acid. In other words, such “practitioners” are always in error, biologically speaking, but never in doubt. In their arrogance of ignorance, they exude the confidence that patients like Kim Tinkham seem to need and flock to answers that are simple, neat, and completely wrong.

In fact, Kim Tinkham made it explicit by saying that Young and his wife had told her what causes cancer by saying “there is no such thing as cancer.” Again, remember that Young thinks that cancer is the body’s reaction to cells “poisoned” by too much acid, and he really does say that there is no such thing as cancer. He even goes on and on about how acid being “deposited into the fatty tissues” and thereby causing cancer. From a scientific standpoint, it’s a load of rubbish, pure pseudoscience without any good scientific evidence to back it up. But Young can assert his nonsense about tissue being due to acid “spoiling” tissues with utter sincerity. He looks completely convincing–if you don’t know anything about cancer biology, and most people don’t know much, if anything, about cancer biology. Give him a woman who is afraid, who wants concrete answers, and who has demonstrated that she is fairly clueless about breast cancer, and he can convince her that he has the answer and can cure her. The reason, it appears to me, is that Tinkham (and women like her) just want to believe that someone knows what’s wrong with them and how to fix it. Knowing how to fix it isn’t enough; they want an answer to the question, “Why me?”

Quacks are only too happy to provide that answer.

Unfortunately, we now know that the time Tinkham’s wasted “flushing herself out” with several liters a day and “alkalinizing” herself will soon cost her her life. At the time, I found it difficult to ascertain exactly what was going on with Tinkham and her cancer. I had no objective evidence and no objective tests. All I had were secondhand reports, none of which gave objective measurements of the tumor. We did know that Ms. Tinkham had undergone various useless tests. We did know that she was undergoing various other forms of quackery. We did know that her tumor was still there over three years after diagnosis, but we didn’t know whether it had grown or regressed. Most frustrating of all, we didn’t know how much longer Tinkham had before her luck ran out and her tumor started progressing.

Now we know.

Death by “alternative” medicine: Who is to blame?

Every indication I have been able to find indicates that Kim Tinkham has recently developed lung, liver, and bone metastases and is apparently in bad enough shape that she will soon die of her breast cancer. Her friends, family, and business associates have banded together to raise funds for her and her family, which makes me wonder if Tinkham has medical insurance. After all, if she has insurance, chances are that her final treatment, including, if necessary, hospice would be covered. Based on that suspicion alone, I’m tempted to donate to the fund myself, because I view Tinkham more as a victim of quackery than anything else. That does not mean that I absolve her of all responsibility for her decision. She is, after all, an adult. However, far more blame should go, in my opinion, to Robert O. Young, who claimed he could cure cancer when he can’t and offered Tinkham a false hope of cure without the pain and difficulty of undergoing surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. It’s “practitioners” like Young who see a weakness or a need to believe in someone like Tinkham and then take full advantage of it. I can’t help but wonder if there are family members and friends who, having seen Tinkham’s choice in 2007, feared the arrival of this day. I wonder what they are going through. It must be truly horrible, particularly the guilt from wondering if they could have done something differently to persuade Tinkham not to take the course she took.

Then, let’s not forget Oprah Winfrey. Oprah Winfrey, after all, rewarded Tinkham’s decision to use The Secret as justification for rejecting science-based therapy and choosing quackery. While it is true that during her interview with Tinkham Oprah appeared distinctly uncomfortable that The Secret had lead Tinkham to reject effective therapy for her breast cancer:

This is part of the therapy that Tinkham is following.

Shockingly, Oprah actually sounds almost reasonable here. Almost. Clearly, she was disturbed enough by Tinkham’s e-mail to invite her on the show. Unfortunately, rather than have Dr. Oz (who, despite his tendencies towards woo in many areas, would be just as disturbed by a woman eschewing effective therapy for her cancer in favor of quackery) look into Tinkham’s case and possibly try to persuade her to accept therapy, Oprah’s first inclination was to get Tinkham on her show because interviewing her would be good television, even more so if the Mighty Oprah could persuade her to accept science-based medical treatment. Too bad the shock of being confronted by someone who used New Age woo that Oprah promoted instead of effective therapy didn’t keep her from later doing things like promoting faith healer John of God. How many Kim Tinkhams are out there who relied on, for instance, John of God instead of Robert O. Young for “healing” and are now dying of metastatic disease? More recently, nearly all mention of Tinkham on Oprah’s website appears to have been thrown down the proverbial memory hole. Search Oprah’s website for Tinkham’s name, and you’ll find nothing other than a couple of mentions in the community forums, such as So, what ever happened to Kim Tinkham? I wonder if Oprah knows what, in fact, has happened to Kim Tinkham. I wonder what she will say when she finds out, and I want her to find out as soon as possible. If there is still time and Tinkham is willing, perhaps Oprah would send a film crew out to Tinkham’s house to show her audience the result of Tinkham’s choice of eschewing science-based medicine in favor of pseudoscience.

The most depressing thing about Tinkham’s testimonial is that it did not have to be this way. It really didn’t. If Kim Tinkham did indeed have stage III cancer in 2007, she would have had (very roughly) a 50-50 chance of beating it if she had only accepted science-based treatment. Not fantastic odds, but way better than the odds she gave herself by not accepting treatment. By refusing science-based surgical and medical therapy, Tinkham reduced her chances to about as close to zero as you can get. Yes, it’s true, even if she had accepted aggressive science-based therapy, including surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation, that Tinkham would still have had a not inconsequential chance of ultimately finding herself in this situation, but refusing therapy guaranteed that, sooner or later, this is where she would come to. It should also not be forgotten that, as Peter Moran has pointed out for other cancer cure testmonials, it’s very common for the testimonials of people who ultimately died of their cancers to persist long beyond their deaths as “proof” that various cancer quackeries “work.” I expect to see the same thing happening with Kim Tinkham, particularly given that no mention is explicitly made on either Caring for Kim or its associated Facebook page.

Finally, I wonder what we as science-based practitioners can do to reduce the number of Kim Tinkhams being victimized in the future by dubious pratictioners. It’s too late for Tinkham, but it’s not too late for others. Ms. Tinkham has spoken over and over again about how she didn’t like the feeling of “being rushed” and how she wanted to “take control.” Doctors offered her options, but they were not options she liked. So she found others, ignoring that they have no science to support them and no evidence to suggest that they do anything to treat cancer. Even for an intelligent woman, the siren song of quackery can be strong. I’ve written about this question before in a post entitled Death by “alternative” medicine: Who’s to blame?, in which I asked: How much are we as a profession responsible when cancer patients seek out quackery rather than effective medicine? The comment thread still holds the record, I believe, for the longest comment thread in SBM history, with over 600 comments. I don’t know the answer, but I do know we need to do a better job at assuaging the fears of someone like Kim Tinkham.

Kim Tinkham has every appearance of being a lovely and vibrant woman who was only 50 years old when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Potentially, she could have had another 30 or 40 years in front of her, but that’s all gone now. Even in spite of her bad decision, one must note that, after her diagnosis, Tinkham continued to run her own business, edited a local newsletter, and won the First Annual Civility Star Award. She did not have to die, but she is going to die soon. It didn’t have to be this way, but it is.

That is the price of quackery.

ADDENDUM:

In the wake of the revelation that Kim Tinkham is dying of metastatic breast cancer after having rejected conventional therapy for her disease in favor of Robert O. Young’s acid-base woo, Young’s response is now (possibly) known. In the comments after part 6 of Young’s interview with Kim Tinkham, a commenter by the ‘nym of inhisgrace7 reports:

I wanted to find out for myself the truth so I wrote to Dr. Young and here is his response:

Kim has always made her own decisions about cancer. Before I met her she had decided on her own that she did not want to have traditonal cancer treatments. I have had very little contact with her in the last few years.

Apparently Young had enough contact with Kim Tinkham to have taped an hour-long interview back in March 2010. For one thing, Kim has only had cancer for less than four years, and he’s been featuring her on his website all along ever since she was on Oprah Winfrey’s TV show–indeed right up to this very writing. Look for his videos and articles featuring Kim Tinkham to disappear down the memory hole, which is why I’ve downloaded web archives and copies of the six parts of the video all converted to QuickTime format. Young won’t erase the evidence so easily.

The rest of Young’s reported response as related by inhisgrace7 goes:

She called me a few weeks ago to tell me she had had breast surgery and her cancer was now in other parts of her body. She felt embarrassed to tell me this news because she had not been living an alkaline diet. Kim and their family are gratiful for the help I had given her over the years. She believes in the program, as well as the family for improving the quality and quantity of her life.

Despicable. That’s the only word to describe Robert O. Young. He’s despicable. Look at him try to backpedal, now that he’s faced with a woman whom he promised to cure and who is now dying.

As expected and as is typical of cancer quackery, the victim is being blamed for not adhering to the quack’s regimen, for not believing enough. Even worse, if this response truly came from Robert O. Young, he has just admitted that he’s been lying about Kim Tinkham on his website for at least a few weeks–ever since he got that phone call from her. After all, if this report truly came from him, Young has just admitted that he knew a few weeks ago that Kim Tinkham’s breast cancer had recurred and that she is dying of her disease. Yet he left the videos of her testimonial on his website and YouTube channel, not to mention his blog posts about how well Tinkham is doing. He didn’t even write addenda to update readers about Tinkham’s current condition. Rather, he left these glowing testimonials on the web in order to sell his woo. Look for those to disappear down the memory hole soon, too. Good thing I downloaded copies of Young’s webpage and his videos interviewing Tinkham, too.

Finally, inhisgrace7 reports that Young’s response finished thusly:

I received a beautiful letter from her son thanking me for all the help and sevice I gave to his mother. Thanks for your inquiry although the person who wrote you has no clue about what she is talking about – Kim has No regrets for the path she chose. All the best, Dr Young

I have to walk away from the computer now. I’m so angry that I might write something I’ll later regret.

Posted in: Cancer, Faith Healing & Spirituality, Health Fraud, Science and the Media

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