Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Rene Caisse

Poor *Rene Caisse (1888 - 1978) sits forever in Bracebridge, in the town she loved, on this piece of the rock. She has a new theatre, which was named in her honour.

A nurse, she spent many years working to improve health care for Central and Northern Ontarians. She bucked the establishment and created an herbal cancer remedy, named Essiac (Caisse backwards), which she spent years trying to legalize in Ontario. This did not go well.

We know how the medical establishment does not like "unscientific", and non-establishment created inventions. Thousands of people in Bracebridge testified to this treatment, yet the establishment fought Ms. Caisse tooth and nail. As with many things, the pharmaceuticals currently provide the money behind cancer 'cures', and research is controlled and limited by such. The book, Pink Ribbon, Inc., is a modern day tale of such.

Our family friend, Donna M. Ivey, wrote a book about her. Clinic of Hope: The story of Rene M. Caisse and Essiac.
Donna lives on Wolfe Isl., and has travelled for holidays in Bracebridge. She has fond memories of my late parents, with whom she was great friends. Published in 2004, when my mother knew she had cancer, mom wouldn't read it, despite Donna being such a dear friend. Donna told me that she sent the book to her, but I know my mother didn't want any more information about health and her own cancer! She was in denial. I feel so badly about this. It is such a good read.

This is a good read, despite the heart-breaking barriers to this community nurse's work. A caring and loving woman, Rene Caisse's patients did not need to worry compared to current concerns. Thank goodness, we are creating more Nurse Practioners in Ontario to mitigate some current health care concerns about access to care, pain management, patient rights.

This book is well-written, documented and well researched, despite, as Donna says, 'files previously searched by the author are no longer open' and files controlled by the powers-that-be have become lighter in quantity. It is a sad state of affairs that secrecy remains. Some in the field appear to be protecting their own.

Mayor Scott Northmore of Bracebridge wrote Donna on December 21, 2004

"Indeed, your book puts Bracebridge on the map and will hopefully draw those readers to our community for a visit or an extended stay. We are grateful for the service you provide as an ambassador for the Town".
The Editor of Limelight of the Kingston Historical Society wrote:

"Our own indomitable Donna Ivey has found time to produce a fascinating
volume. More than a biography, Donna has presented us with a rich social history of the Bracebridge district as well as an insight into the science and politics of the medical world. Essiac is a story with connection to such people as Eva Peron, Mitch Hepburn, Pauline MacGibbon, Frederick Banting and Queen's Principal R.C. Wallace. Thoroughly researched and well written, is a fine read."
Donna wrote me:
"I was thrilled with a comment of Prof. Brian S. Osborne of Queen's University, at the time the President of the Ontario Historical Society and the Kingston Historical Society - "You must be so proud of a work that is at once a biography and a social history. And it is so well written".
I am not writing about or promoting Essiac, just the accurate revelation of the events surrounding the governmental, medical and legal times of Rene's promotion of her herbal remedy for cancer. I also have a paper published in Historic Kingston detailing the role Queen's U. Principal Wallace had in the Caisse saga."
What is amazing is that even now, is that oncologists are not giving patients all the information. When you visit, especially my parents (hard-of-hearing) and unable to process much that they hears (it is a shock to be told you have cancer)!

Rene's treatment was derived from aboriginal sources, and painstakingly created in a kitchen. She has success, but failed to achieve her dream and medical acceptance. This book is an inspiring story about an amazing woman.

The reason Donna wrote the book was to correct the inaccurate information published in several U.S. books to correct this and present the accurate issues around the governmental, medical and legal action at the time. For this story involved the US, as well.

Any bookstore can order in copies of this book. (A question my readers often ask me of mine!) Reader's World and Scott's, in Bracebridge, have copies, as well of this book.

*Her name is pronounced 'REEN CASE'.


Jain said...

Jenn, I hope to track this book down. My mate had 6 months to live when we married 4 years ago; chemo and a transplant didn't work, radiation helped, but I credit Essiac tea with saving his life. He's still on a maintenance dose and there are jars in the fridge as I type. Docs won't give it any credit - not out loud - but I guess I'm thankful they didn't prohibit it, either.

I'd love to visit the monument some day. Thank you for this post.

Barrie said...