I was moved, stunned, amazed, hurt, and left speechless after reading your story “Natural Causes” by Elissa Silverman (12/15/00). I am trying to decide what the moral is to the story. My gut reaction would be Beware of naturopaths! But then, on the other hand, I see a young lady determined to dictate her own treatment, her own destiny.

Six years ago, I was told there was a “growth” the size of an orange in my chest, next to my heart, which turned out to be my thymus gland (reactivated). My friends and some family members immediately lined up to say, “Don’t let the man cut you—shrink it yourself!” What makes this situation so interesting is that I am a nurse and registered naturopath here in Washington. I proceeded to treat myself as I have always treated my clients: with common sense. I gathered information, had a complete examination and test by my primary doctor, and established (if not previously extant) a working relationship with all licensed professionals involved with my case. Then, all together, we made a plan of action to treat my illness.

My heart goes out to Jennifer Drayton Austin’s family and friends. And yes, I respect her desire to seek alternative methods for treating her cancer. However, I believe it needs to be stated that each naturopathic practitioner varies in his or her treatment modalities. I hope the readers of the Washington City Paper keep that in mind, plus shop around, ask questions, compare, and get second, third, and even fourth opinions before making very important decisions concerning their health and its care. I must say, my mode of treatment is different from that portrayed in the story. I chose for myself a combination of therapies (herbs, nutrition, exercise, and surgery).

We will never know if Jennifer Drayton Austin’s choice was the correct choice or not. It was, however, her choice. I do call upon my fellow naturopaths to please give their clients as much information as possible before they make any decision regarding treatment and also ask them to discuss with their primary doctor choices they plan to make. If a client decides that he or she prefers an alternative method, then perhaps a cooperative arrangement can be made with all parties involved. No one should suffer in any kind of pain.

To Yemi Bates-Jones and Hank Jones I can only say, Shame on you! If you are going to practice as naturopaths in Washington, then do as we who want to be viewed as legal, legitimate, serious practitioners have done: Get registered! It is very difficult to coexist in the health-care field with allopaths and have them take us seriously when stories such as “Natural Causes” come along showcasing unregistered people, hurting our entire profession, and casting a dark cloud over our heads.

Thank God all naturopaths are not the same. I am alive today because of my knowledge and the method in which I treat myself and my clients.

My prayers go out to the family and friends of Jennifer Drayton Austin.

Dupont Circle