Alternative cancer treatment clinics branded 'dangerous' by expert
Families of cancer patients who died after rejecting conventional medicine and spent thousands on treatments such as homeopathy claim loved ones would still be alive if it wasn’t for clinics who ‘radicalised’ them
- Lorna Halliday, a scientist at Cambridge University, lost mother to breast cancer
- Said mum refused conventional medicine in favour of homeopathic remedies
- Told she had good odds of survival with mastectomy and chemo but died in 2014
- According to new BBC Three documentary False Hope? Alternative Cancer Cures, Sean Walsh, of Liverpool, also died after rejecting chemo to ‘cure himself’
- Both sought help from Rosa and Phillip Hughes at Medical Thermal Imaging Ltd
Families of cancer patients who died after rejecting conventional treatments at hospital and spending thousands on alternative remedies including homeopathy claim their loved ones may still be alive if it wasn’t for ‘dangerous’ clinics that ‘radicalised’ them in a shocking new documentary.
Lorna Halliday, a senior scientist at Cambridge University, told how her mother Linda was given ‘really good’ survival odds if she underwent a mastectomy followed by chemo and radiotherapy when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Instead, Linda turned down the recommended NHS treatments and started taking alternative medicines such as mistletoe injections from a number of alternative practitioners. She died in 2014.
Lorna shares her mother’s story on BBC Three’s False Hope? Alternative Cancer Cures, along with the family of Liverpudlian Sean Walsh, who died at the age of 23 in January 2019 after turning down hospital treatment in favour of trying to ‘cure his cancer himself’.
Lorna Halliday, a senior scientist at Cambridge University, said her mother Linda was given ‘really good’ survival odds if she underwent a mastectomy followed by chemo and radiotherapy when she was diagnosed with breast cancer
Speaking to journalist Layla Wright, Lorna told how she didn’t know her mother had been battling cancer until she died.
‘It was breast cancer, she caught it really early, and was advised to have a mastectomy and chemotherapy and radiotherapy and told if she did that she had really good odds, but quite quickly she decided that she didn’t want to do that,’ Lorna recalled.
Having always been ‘wary’ of conventional medicine, Lorna said Linda visited Medical Thermal Imaging Ltd in Liverpool to help her ‘monitor the growth and spread of her cancer using thermal imaging’.
She claimed the clinic’s co-founder Philip became her mother’s homeopath.
Speaking to journalist Layla Wright, Lorna told how she didn’t know her mother Linda, pictured, had been battling cancer until she died
Lorna said: ‘[Mum] had thermography with Rosa Hughes which she believed were tracking her cancer.
‘She was going to the clinic and saying “I think it’s growing, I’m pretty sure it’s getting bigger” and she could feel it was getting bigger, and yet the scans were saying that it wasn’t growing.’
Lorna said she feels her mother was given ‘a false sense of belief’, adding: ‘Philip would prescribe her a new homeopathic treatment so I think she was reassured that she was doing something.
‘She spent a lot of money, thousands of pounds on it, and that was really difficult to see how much she was spending on supplements and these thermal imaging treatments.’
Having always been ‘wary’ of conventional medicine, Lorna said Linda visited Medical Thermal Imaging Ltd in Liverpool to help her ‘monitor the growth and spread of her cancer using thermal imaging’. Lorna is pictured with journalist Layla Wright
Linda started using a corrosive herbal remedy called black salve which she got from another alternative therapist. She allegedly told her GP it was ‘drawing out her cancer’.
When her cancer progressed, Lorna told how a doctor warned her mother she had an ‘ulcerating tumour’
‘[The doctor said] you have an open wound and told Mum the truth, and I know that Mum was very emotional and very upset.
‘I think she knew it was probably too late and couldn’t face the truth about what was happening, but I think part of her knew.’
Having noticed Linda was behaving strangely, Lorna called her and urged her to see a doctor.
The family of Liverpudlian Sean Walsh, pictured, who died at the age of 23 in January 2019 after turning down hospital treatment in favour of trying to ‘cure his cancer himself’, also feature in the documentary
‘She said, “No, I’m in regular contact with a homeopath from Liverpool.” And at that point I got a bit cross and said, “Mum, homeopathy doesn’t work,” and she went quite quiet at that point.
‘But we said our goodbyes and that was the last time I spoke to her.’
Linda died a couple of days later. An inquest found she had septicamia caused by the ulceration of her tumour.
Asked if Linda would be here now had she not turned down conventional treatment, Lorna replied: ‘Absolutely.’
Sean Walsh, a keen musician, also sought help from Medical Thermal Imaging.
Sean Walsh, a keen musician, also sought help from Medical Thermal Imaging, after already having hospital treatment for the condition which put him in remission (pictured)
He had spent less than two years in remission following a gruelling six months of chemotherapy, but his cancer returned and required additional chemo with a stem cell transplant. Doctors told him he had at least a 50 per cent chance of long term survival if he had conventional treatment.
But Sean’s mother Dawn told how he ‘didn’t want to do it all over again’. She remembered a chance encounter with homeopath Phil, whom she claimed told her he’d successfully treated his wife Rosa for breast cancer.
Dawn went along to the first appointment, where she claims Phil was ‘talking about how damaging chemotherapy is on the human body’.
‘He was saying, “I’ve had lots of people come to my clinic but by the time I get them they’re shot with all this chemotherapy so I can’t help them,” and then he was talking about how you can change your diet,’ she said.
Sean’s mother Dawn (right) told how her son ‘didn’t want to do it all over again’, while his girlfriend Aimee McDonald (left) helped him research alternative remedies
‘He said Rosa had developed breast cancer, she’d had a lump in her breast, and she’d decided not to do hospital treatments… So obviously Sean’s listened to this thinking, “Well if one person’s done it and I’m hearing other little stories off them, I can do this.”‘
He and his girlfriend Aimee McDonald spent hours online researching alternative and cancer conspiracy theories.
Going back through the stories and article they read, Aimee admitted: ‘I understand that I was at one point in the situation where I believed this. When you’re in your own bubble it really is like radicalisation, that’s the word I use because I just turned into a different person.
‘Looking back at this now it’s crazy that I ever wrote like this and thought this.’
Sean switched to a fully organic, vegan, raw and gluten free diet and began taking supplements. He also tried cannabis oil and even coffee enemas.
Sean switched to a fully organic, vegan, raw and gluten free diet and began taking supplements. He also tried cannabis oil and even coffee enemas
Aimee said he became ‘obsessed’ with what he was eating, believing it could cure his cancer, and had regular thermography scans at Rosa and Phillip’s clinic, which he believed was tracking his condition.
‘He was avoiding certain vegetables, certain fruits and the list of things he ate went smaller and smaller and some days he wouldn’t eat anything because he was scared of what he shouldn’t eat,’ she said, added that the scans were Sean’s ‘evidence, his hope, his confirmation that it was working’.
Sean also visited the Gerson clinic in Mexico, which takes a ‘nutritional’ approach to ‘curing cancer’. Dawn and Aimee told how reading his ‘reports’ from the clinic made him believe his cancer had gone.
The documentary found the company kept his testimonials on its websites after he passed away.
Aimee said Sean became ‘obsessed’ with what he was eating, believing it could cure his cancer, and had regular thermography scans at Rosa and Phillip’s clinic, which he believed was tracking his condition
When his condition took a turn for the worst in 2017, Dawn rushed him to hospital where doctors found he had excessive fluid built-up and a tumour the size of a grapefruit in his stomach as well as tumours in his chest.
He was started on chemo but it was too late. Sean was in and out of hospital for a year but the cancer had spread too much and there was nothing more medics could do.
Sean’s brother Kevin recalled: ‘I had the difficult job of bringing someone to terms with their own death, their own mortality, time is running out and you’re going to pass away.
‘We both sat down on this hospital bed in the corner of the living room and it was like I was interviewing his life. I asked him what was the best part of it and he said the music.
‘He said he felt it was unfair that he only had a short time and for someone who’s had cancer since the age of 17, you never got to experience the full years of being in your twenties and past that.
‘And essentially he realised what was going to become of him, he realised he was passing away and he just wanted to die.’
When his condition took a turn for the worst in 2017, Dawn rushed him to hospital where doctors found he had excessive fluid built-up and a tumour the size of a grapefruit in his stomach as well as tumours in his chest
The documentary went undercover and visited Medical Thermal Imaging, booking a £255 appointment with Rosa.
In the documentary Rosa was seen telling the reporter posing as a patient with suspected breast cancer that she should have an ultrasound instead of a mammogram at the hospital because it would ‘squash’ and ‘burst’ her tumour, which ‘spreads cancer’.
The video was shown to Professor Andrew Wardley, a consultant medical oncologist for breast cancer at The Christie in Manchester who was treated for leukaemia himself, who branded her claims ‘preposterous’.
In the programme Rosa was also seen telling the reporter she refused to let doctors take a biopsy of her ‘big lump’ which she believes ‘saved her life because it didn’t spread it’.
Professor Wardley said in response: ‘The only way you can prove it’s a cancer is to get the tissue in and see cancer cells under the microscope.
Speaking about Rosa, who was recorded saying a lump ‘won’t kill you’, Dawn Walsh remarked: ‘They need to stop. I don’t know how they sleep at night’
‘My suspicion is that she didn’t have a cancer because cancers don’t go away spontaneously.’
He added: ‘She’s advising people not to get a diagnosis and the treatment options given to them properly, so this is dangerous in my opinion. I think these sort of things should be outlawed.’
In response to Rosa’s claims that you ‘can’t poison someone to health or radiate someone to health’ with chemotherapy, Professor Wardley said: ‘It makes me very concerned.
‘I’ve been through the worst treatment you could possibly have, I’ve had chemotherapy once that did wipe out all of my bone marrow, whole body radiotherapy, and I was extremely ill and nearly died from the treatment.
‘But I would have definitely died and died very quickly had I not had the treatment. For people with Hodgkin lymphoma the outcomes are excellent and more and more people are cured or kept alive because of the drug treatments that are very effective.’
Rosa and Phillip were invited to interview but instead issues a statement claiming it is ‘stated prominently on their website that thermography does NOT see or diagnose cancer’.
Regarding Lorna’s mother Linda Halliday, Rosa and Phillip said: ‘It is similarly untrue that [we] discouraged… Ms Halliday from seeking conventional treatment on this basis,’ adding that her last consultation was 10 months before her death
It added that they ‘utterly reject the very serious allegation that they encouraged Mr Walsh to turn down conventional treatment, or otherwise gave him inappropriate advice’.
Regarding Linda Halliday, they said: ‘It is similarly untrue that [we] discouraged… Ms Halliday from seeking conventional treatment on this basis,’ adding that her last consultation was 10 months before her death.
‘We understand that Ms Halliday was investigating other alternative treatments during that period,’ it read.
‘As to the suggestion [we] claim to have “treated and cured Mrs Hughes of breast cancer with out conventional treatment”, we have never claimed this and indeed Mrs Hughes has never been diagnosed through a biopsy.’
Speaking about Rosa, who was recorded saying a lump ‘won’t kill you’, Dawn Walsh remarked: ‘They need to stop. I don’t know how they sleep at night.
‘You’re vulnerable when you’ve got cancer. You’re looking to cure yourself or put yourself in remission at least or spend as much time with your loved ones, and you are going to believe certain people who are making money out of the cancer industry through vulnerable people.’
Sean’s brother Kevin added: ‘One of the hardest things to get over in life is betrayal, having the carpet took from underneath your feet, and having him get to that position was heartbreaking.’
False Hope? Alternative Cancer Cures is available to watch on the BBC iPlayer now.
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