BBC Investigative Documentary
Lights, Camera and Action! – By Chris Geiger.
Below is a column written about a hidden camera investigative documentary. Chris was asked by the BBC to accompany their undercover investigative team.
I’m not writing this from a hospital bed, nor thankfully receiving cancer treatment; however sadly there are 298,000 newly diagnosed cancer patients in the UK each year, who are receiving treatment or looking for a method to cure themselves of a disease which kills 7.6 million people worldwide each year.
I’ve served my cancer apprenticeship; for practically two years, I received traditional treatments like chemotherapy, and surgery. I had a tumour the size of a dinner plate buried in my chest. Bags of chemotherapy, which nurses handled with the care and respect of an unexploded bomb, were chosen as my primary weapon to rid me of this disease. However, along with successfully destroying cancer, this bag of venomous poison managed to effortlessly and successfully cause me to lose weight, destroy my taste buds, stripped my body of hair and forced me to learn the skill of vomiting quietly without choking and with pinpoint accuracy too. As if by magic it also induced blinding headaches and caused mouth ulcers to randomly appear. Its other abilities included total control of my bowels, alternating them like traffic lights, from constipation to embarrassing me with major diarrhoea.
Thankfully treatments have improved enormously since my experience twenty years ago, yet they are still unpleasant. So I fully appreciate why people seek alternative methods of cancer treatment. Yet, frustratingly, annoyingly and illegally there are evil, unqualified charlatans who take advantage of vulnerable, sick people who are desperate to find a cure and free themselves of this life-destroying illness.
So when I was made aware by the BBC of a spiritual healer, who offers advice on internet cancer forums by openly writing “Smoking does not cause cancer” or “God can cure cancer” and says “Cancer starts prior to incarnation, it’s purpose is to heal the soul.” I obviously accepted the BBC's invitation to help them secretly film and then try and stop this person from their illegal and potentially dangerous treatments.
A few days later after I’d nervously booked an appointment under the glare of the BBC cameras. I met with my ‘TV Wife’. She is a BBC producer experienced in undercover filming; however for the purposes of the appointment played my wife. We spent an hour getting to know each other, rehearsing answers as if we were about to appear on ‘Mr & Mrs’. Then with the cameras hidden, we headed off for my appointment with an unsuspecting spiritual healer.
Now I’m sure we’ve all experienced that unusual sense of anxiety normally only induced when sitting in front of a doctor. However, as I entered the ‘consulting room’, which at best could be described as a scruffy, damp brick out-building sitting in the back garden of my so-called doctor, any nerves or even anger that this person is actively targeting vulnerable and poorly cancer patients strangely evaporated. Perhaps this was because the room was the size of a bus shelter and the temperature of a butcher’s walk-in freezer; or because she seemingly believed our cover story.
I’m not going to spoil this documentary by revealing the end of the story here. However, my genuine hope is that before anyone takes medical advice or seeks treatment, they obtain verification, they are dealing with a qualified registered medical practitioner… and to those targeting vulnerable, desperate people for a quick financial gain, let this be a warning to you - you never know when I might walk into your treatment room too!
You can watch my journey on Monday, January 14th, on BBC 1 at 7:30pm.