Don’t Mistake Remission for a Cure

by Bill Brenner on March 8, 2013

As someone who suffered badly from Crohn’s Disease as a kid and still deals with the effects today, I find the story of Ari Meisel inspiring. The NYC resident tells Fox News that he found a way to beat the disease, which is considered incurable.

Mood music:

[spotify:track:5yH11HAtcLVaZ63t8HPlBR]

A friend sent me the article and asked what I thought of it. The headline thrilled me: “Curing Crohn’s? Man says he found way to beat incurable disease.” I started reading and got more jazzed as Meisel explained how he radically changed his diet, embraced yoga, weaned himself off his medication and drove all the illness from his body.

Then came this paragraph:

“Although he realizes he fundamentally cannot be ‘cured’ of an incurable disease, he and [Dr. Bart Kummer, his specialist,] can agree he is in remission — for now.”

From the Resources section: Websites for dealing with Crohn’s Disease

The rest of the article is a debate over whether Meisel’s lifestyle changes made the difference or if the medicine he had been on — mercaptopurine, or 6MP — did the trick. Meisel never claims he cured himself. Yet Fox teases the reader with a headline suggesting someone has found a cure.

It’s a misleading headline that’s sure to disappoint those who suffer from Crohn’s Disease today. The article itself is good, and the lessons are important. But it is not about a cure.

I’m not going to rip Fox over it, because I’m an editor who has produced his fair share of dud headlines over the last couple of decades.

As for Meisel’s story, it’s inspiring but not surprising.

When a Crohn’s attack is on full burn, it will make you think you’re on death’s door. In fact, it’ll make you wish you were there. Today’s medications are better than what was available to me in the 1970s and 1980s, but like the Prednisone that drove me to the brink of insanity, drugs like 6MP have horrible side effects, including an increased risk of cancer.

All Crohn’s patients know that diet and exercise are key to keeping the disease in remission. Even then, all bets are off. That Meisel has found solid remission through a strict diet and exercise regimen is admirable but to be expected.

I’m lucky. Though the disease manifests itself in different ways today, I haven’t suffered a crippling attack since 1986. My doctors tell me that’s rare.

I know I’m not cured, though.

Whenever you see an article claiming a cure for this disease, go ahead and read it, because you’re always bound to find useful, actionable information.

But don’t think for a second that it’s going to somehow free you forever.

Intestines

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Ari Meisel March 8, 2013 at 2:51 pm

What I tried to convey was that I believe the difference between cured and remission is a state of mind. I am cured because I will never again be at the mercy of my body, the pharmaceutical industry, or the medical community because I now have the tools and knowledge I need to fight this illness

maillot pays bas 2010 2012 August 16, 2013 at 3:32 am

I appreciate you sharing this article post.Really looking forward to read more. Awesome.

Phrase Finder October 30, 2013 at 9:31 am

Ari, you don’t define “cure” the way most people do. Twisting words like this, actually, undermines your real message of health and hope.

I wonder if there’s a better way to share your message? Saying “cure” makes you sound like a huckster, selling something that is simply too good to be true. And it is indeed not true — you aren’t cured, except by your own idiosyncratic definition that no one else on the planet uses.

Crohn’s sufferers are lied to enough already. Why are you adding to this overload, when your real message is so positive?

The health regimen you describe should get more exposure. It worked for you and may work for others. Throwing around the word “cure” and then saying, “well, not ‘cure’ the way YOU define it” … it will earn you a cheap headline or two, but it will make smart people trust you less, and keep your message from getting out there.

Avishai November 7, 2013 at 8:35 am

Hi,
My name is Avishai and I’m the co-founder of Wizeo.org. Bill thank you for this article post. I believe you and you readers will be interested to know about the opportunity to video chat one-on-one with Ari Meisel and support a cause.
Visit Ari Meisel’s Campaign at: http://www.wizeo.org/#profile/6

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