WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGES
A ‘faith healer’ smeared a ‘natural remedy’ across her stomach that made her skin rot away promising it would cure her cancer.
Helen Lawson suffered through months of agonsing pain as the black salve applied by Dennis Jensen turned her flesh into a charred mess, before she died anyway.
The quack doctor was banned by the Victorian Health Complaints Commissioner from providing any health service for 12 weeks.
Helen Lawson suffered through months of agonsing pain as the black salve applied by Dennis Jensen turned her flesh into a charred mess, before she died anyway
‘I am satisfied that this was necessary in this case to avoid a serious risk to the health, safety or welfare of the public,’ commissioner Karen Cusack said.
Mr Jensen said he would comply with the order but was prepared to go to jail, arguing the interim prohibition order was unlawful.
The 64-year-old claimed ‘I don’t need to be’ when asked by 9 News if he had any medical qualifications, and admitted he didn’t.
Ms Lawson, a 50-year-old emergency department nurse and keen cyclist, was diagnosed with cancer in October after doctors found a 17cm mass on her ovary.
Ms Lawson (right), a 50-year-old emergency department nurse and keen cyclist, was diagnosed with cancer in October after doctors found a 17cm mass on her ovary
A ‘faith healer’ smeared a ‘natural remedy’ across her stomach that made her skin rot away (injury pictured) promising it would cure her cancer
The day before she was to have surgery to remove the tumour, she visited Mr Jensen at his home on the outskirts of Melbourne.
Belinda Davies, her partner of 21 years, said she immediately cancelled the operation because Mr Jensen told her it wouldn’t work.
‘He told her the black salve will draw out the cancer and the black salve will do what the surgeons can’t,’ she told The Age.
The couple had a huge fight and Ms Davies tried to convince her to stick with modern medicine, but ended up driving her to regular visits.
‘He put his hands on her stomach and would breathe out like he was trying to blow away the cancer, telling us that the cancer was gone, and there was only a tiny little bit still there,’ she said.
Dennis Jensen (left) was banned by the Victorian Health Complaints Commissioner from providing any health service for 12 weeks after claiming black salve (right) cured cancer
A man in Queensland sustained this injury after applying black salve to his head
Black salve is a widely discredited treatment containing plant bloodroot or zinc chloride that destroys the skin and tissue below leaving a black scar.
‘The TGA is not aware of any credible, scientific evidence which shows that any black or red salve preparation is effective in treating cancer,’ The Therapeutic Goods Administration said.
Mr Jensen claimed to have cured his own cancer and that of others, even a cat, using the ‘treatment’ – a claim he can’t repeat while the ban is in place.
He said he didn’t charge for his services and only did it out of ‘genuine love and compassion’ – though some patients gave him donations.
Mr Jensen said black salve wasn’t supported by mainstream medicine because drug companies couldn’t make money from it.
Despite the intense pain and Ms Lawson getting sicker and sicker from cancer, she persisted with the treatment until she died in April.
Victorian Health Complaints Commissioner Karen Cusack said: ‘I am satisfied that this was necessary in this case to avoid a serious risk to the health, safety or welfare of the public’
Ms Davies believed the love of her life could have survived another few years if she got real treatment instead of turning to Mr Jensen.
Dr Douglas Grose, president of the Cosmetic Physicians College of Australasia, called black salve a ‘ridiculous technique’ that ‘kills everything’.
‘You can’t control it. All you’re doing is killing the full thickness of the skin and allowing it to scar up,’ he said.
The Health Complaints Commissioner’s investigation was expected to finish in August could ban Mr Jensen for life or press criminal charges.
He faces a huge fine and up to 10 years jail if he breaches the order.