Last Friday I find out that one of my biggest entrepreneurial inspirations and mentors, Jess Ainscough, passed away.
had been – as she would say – ‘thriving with cancer’ for 7 years, but sadly her incredible 30 years came to an end on 26th February.
“Walk with the dreamers, the believers, the courageous, the cheerful, the planners, the doers, the successful people with their heads in the clouds and their feet on the ground. Let their spirit ignite a fire within you to leave this world better than when you found it…” – Wilferd Peterson
The news shocked and saddened me deeply, as I’m sure it has with thousands of people around the globe.
Almost every second post I looked at on various social media channels last Friday and over the weekend were dedicated to Jess, people were writing the most heartfelt sentiments and testaments about her.
I didn’t know Jess Ainscough well on a personal level, however, I had the pleasure of meeting her at a few business entrepreneurial events over the last couple years, the last being in Sydney for her, ‘Make Peace With Your Plate’ book tour.
I’ve followed Jess Ainscough’s inspirational and educational blog for many years watching her go from strength to strength, both in her business and in her personal life, reading and watching her health – and life – journey unfold.
I’ve dialled into webinars and teleconferences she’s hosted or co-hosted and been awed at her down to earth nature and kind spirit whilst simultaneously building a massively successful empire with her business.
On Friday night when I jumped online and saw the news of her passing away, I thought my eyes had deceived me.
‘Is this some kind of cruel joke? Jess Ainscough’s time on this earth can’t be over, she’s only 30 years old’, I thought.
But it wasn’t a joke.
Jess Ainscough’s approach with regards to a treatment plan for her cancer was through alternative medicine where she followed what’s known as ‘Gerson Therapy’ which is a natural treatment in which the body tries to heal itself. This entailed her juicing up to thirteen times a day, doing coffee enemas multiple times a day, eliminating alcohol, dairy, meat, refined sugar, processed foods – and that’s not even the half of it.
As I said, I didn’t know Jess on a personal level and won’t pretend I know the slightest bit about what she must have gone through on her healing journey and what it must have been like for her living with cancer for all those years, I can only speak to the hundreds of posts I read over the years on her blog.
What I do know though is this: Jess made a conscious decision to live her life to the fullest – with cancer – and chose to pursue a natural treatment plan (after trying chemo several years ago, which, resulted in her doctors telling her they would need to amputate her arm) to manage the cancer riddled in her body.
That was her choice and decision – as a woman, a human being, and the owner of her body – to make.
Despite a plethora of love-soaked condolences and heartfelt messages painted across newsfeeds on social media and articles written on the interwebs in honour of Jess, I did – unfortunately but not surprisingly – come across some nasty, unnecessary, cruel and insensitive comments and opinions about Jess’s passing and the way she lived her life and chose to treat her cancer.
This wasn’t the first, second, or tenth time I’d seen trolls perk up on the internet and offer their two cents worth or opposing opinions about how people are living their lives, treating diseases, building businesses, or what diet or lifestyle they prescribe to, however, it never ceases to amaze me how people can be so insensitive and disrespectful, especially after hearing the news of someone’s death.
Whilst I can, to some degree, understand and appreciate some people’s comments were based on concerns they had about the huge following that Jess had and that there would have been masses of people making decisions about their own cancer treatment plan, based on Jess’s journey and decisions, – comments I read like ‘I’m not surprised she died; carrot juice does not cure cancer’ or ‘chemo cures cancer, not juice’, astounded and disgusted me.
What I derive from such judgmental comments is that these people, whomever they are, are ‘pro’ conventional and westernised medicine, and ‘anti’ alternative and natural treatment plans.
Let it be said, I am not a doctor nor a medical specialist of any kind and I am in no position to comment on whether Jess made the ‘right’ medical – or any other – choice or not.
However, what I can say is this:
She made the right choice for her.
She inspired – and will continue to – thousands and thousands of people around the world, not only with her health journey and story, but with her huge-hearted passion and mission with the beautiful and succinct message of,
‘Be Well. Be Kind. Be Brave.’
Unfortunately, I have had several people close to me be diagnosed with various forms of cancer over the years, two of which were my step mum and my Mum.
My step mum was diagnosed with cancer, did receive chemotherapy treatment multiple times, however, sadly passed away nearly three years ago after living with cancer for 11 years.
My Mum was diagnosed with cancer, did receive chemotherapy treatment and she is still alive and thriving today (thank goodness).
I mention these cases not for your pity or sympathy, but because I don’t think it’s as simple or as black and white as saying, ‘chemo cures cancer’ or ‘chemo doesn’t cure cancer.’
But what I think (and hope) we can agree on, is that unless we find ourselves in a similar position, facing a life threating illness or disease (let us hope we never do), we must respect and accept the decisions of others who have been dealt a different hand for we do not know what it must feel like to walk a mile in their shoes.
“Never judge a man until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes.”
– American Proverb
It is undeniably and incredibly sad and unfortunate that Jess will not see her 31st birthday and go on to live a healthy and happy existence in this lifetime, however, what’s not to say that had received chemotherapy or ‘traditional’ medical treatments all those years ago that she would have lived to see her 25th birthday?
We will never know the answer to that and nobody ever could – not you or I, nor doctors, or anyone else – years ago or now.
However, now is not the time for passing judgment, negative opinions, or scolding Jess (or anyone else for that matter) about the choices she made about her diagnosis and her life.
Now is the time to come together, to treasure the life we still get to live, to be the best version of ourselves; to remember what beauty lies within the freedom of choice; let us express gratitude for everyone and everything that we have in our lives; may we silence our nonsense and let the drone of our petty ‘dramas’ wash away into the seashore and be replaced by love and light and from the bright sparks in the night sky, one of which I know is Jess.
Now if I may, I’d like to wrap up this post in the humble and treasured words of Jess Ainscough,
Be Well. Be Kind. Be Brave.
I’ve been blessed by Jess, and for that, I will forever be grateful.