About Ian and Ruth Gawler

Dr Ian Gawler



Dr Ian Gawler has played a major role in pioneering and popularizing meditation and other mind-body techniques in the Western world. A powerful advocate of a healthy lifestyle, Ian has appeared widely in the media and presented at many major conferences.

Ian began his working life as a veterinarian, then in 1975 he had his right leg amputated due to bone cancer. The cancer recurred later that year and utilizing a wide range of treatment modalities and self-help options, Ian survived against the odds.

Dr Gawler co-founded the world’s first lifestyle-based cancer self-help group in 1981 and the first similar groups for people with multiple sclerosis in 2001. Ian convened Australia’s first Mind-Body Medicine conference in 1995. His biography The Dragon’s Blessing was published by Guy Allenby in 2008.

Ian has authored six bestselling books, including the internationally acclaimed and recently revised You Can Conquer Cancer that has been translated into 14 languages. Ian’s latest book is The Mind that Changes Everything and he is a regular blogger. He has also co-developed a meditation platform app, the Meditation Gateway.

Dr Gawler holds a degree in Veterinary Science and a Masters in Counselling.

In 1987, Ian Gawler was awarded the Order of Australia Medal for his services to the community.

View Ian’s medical history below

Dr Ruth Gawler



Ruth has an openness, directness and authenticity that have endeared her to many. She has worked and studied for over 17 years with her husband Ian Gawler in programs and meditation retreats around Australia and New Zealand.

Past President of Meditation Australia, Ruth was on their Board for 8 years and played a significant role in bringing to reality their vision of integrating mindfulness and meditation into everyday life.  A GP with a Masters in GP Psychiatry, Ruth has a special interest in Mind-Body Medicine and what really helps people to heal – physically, emotionally, socially and spiritually.

Ruth’s regular personal study and practice of yoga and meditation over 35 years informs many of her ways in assisting people to open their awareness, connect with body, deeply relax and integrate their whole being. Her guided meditations are available through  www.meditationgateway.net as well as at http://www.iangawlerwebstore.com



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Ian Gawler’s Medical History


1950 February 25

Born in Melbourne, Australia.


1974 December

Reported swelling in right thigh to local GP and referred to surgeon, Mr John Doyle.


1975 January

Full anaesthetic and open biopsy confirmed osteogenic sarcoma in right leg. Told prognosis was 5% chance of survival after 5 years. Five days later, on the 8th, right leg was amputated through the hip. Post surgical histology confirmed the diagnosis. Independent review of all pathology in 1994 confirmed the original diagnosis. Found prosthesis less practical than crutches. Began to wear kaftans for comfort and aesthetics. Began to meditate daily, improved the diet and reflected deeply on the meaning and purpose of life.


1975 November

Rock hard swelling detected inside right groin. Based upon the clinical picture, definitive X-rays and bone scans, Doyle diagnosed secondary osteogenic sarcoma in the right sacro-iliac area and suspected more secondaries centrally in the chest. Advised medical treatment ineffective and not recommended. Advised prognosis was 3-6 months. Ian reasoned that healing may be possible if the immune system could be activated. Began intensive meditation (initially 3-5 hours, then 3) with Dr Ainslie Meares (Melbourne Psychiatrist and author of Relief Without Drugs). Began the Gerson Diet.


1976 February

No growth in cancer but complications began through weight loss and period of a couple of weeks of severe back pain and sciatica. Confined to bed. Following more extensive investigations at Peter MacCallum Hospital, three palliative radiotherapy treatments to lower lumber spine were administered, but were ineffective for pain relief. Chiropractic, mega-vitamin therapy and acupuncture give slight relief but not persisted with. Medically directed injections of Plenisol, a mistletoe extract, relieved pain and increased mobility.


Married Gail Kerr (later Gail changed her name to Gayle, then Grace) who had been Ian’s veterinary nurse and who continued to support him throughout his illness and recovery.


1976 March

Hydronephrosis in right kidney developed, pain reintensified, severe night sweats, jaundiced, cachexia with marked weight loss.


1976 March-April

Travelled to Philippines. Over 4 weeks, psychic surgery received from 5 traditional Filipino shamanistic healers. Marked pain relief, weight gain and general health turn around, although cancer remained unchanged.


1976 April-October

Continued with meditation, diet and explored wide range of natural therapies aimed at stimulating the immune system and healing. This was a period of intense reading, introspection and personal development. However, the cancer continued to progress, with large masses slowly enlarging inside pelvis, mediastinum and through left lung, plus large eruptions of cancer on the exterior of the sternum.


1976 October

Cancer progressed to its largest size, however, feeling very well. Concerned by cancer growth, consulted oncologist. After more investigations and confirmation of the diagnosis, advised of experimental chemotherapy that could be attempted with uncertain results and probably significant side effects (transient nausea, short term hair loss, high probability of sterility, possible heart muscle and eyesight damage). Two year course of treatment recommended with adriamycin, vincristine, cyclophosphamide and dacarbazine. After two weeks deliberation, commenced treatment while intensifying the diet, the meditation and other supportive, self-help procedures.


A key photo taken before commencing chemotherapy in October 1976, and widely reproduced, has been regularly mislabelled as being taken in October 1977. However, the original photo has the Kodak print date on its back and it forms one in a sequence of over a dozen photos that were taken periodically from this time and are dated by Kodak.


After ten weeks treatment, felt whatever benefits the chemotherapy had to offer had been received. However, the cancer had only slightly diminished in size over the period of treatment (as confirmed by the regular photos taken and the oncologist’s written reports); and warned of the very real possibilities of rapid rebound growth if the treatment was ceased. Against medical advice, elected to discontinue treatment.


1977 January

Returned to the Philippines seeking more healing for the cancer, any side effects from the treatment, and in an attempt to understand psychic surgery. Rented a flat in Baguio and spend three months being treated, filming, talking and studying with healers. After a visit to Manilla that was very polluted, begin coughing up blood for the first time. This may have marked the onset of the TB that would not be diagnosed until June 1978.


1977 April

Journeyed on to India. Met with Sai Baba, who is regarded as a divine incarnation in India. He said “You are already healed, don’t worry”. Cancer began to recede markedly.


1977 May-June

Journeyed to Cairo; England – Glastonbury, Findhorn, Iona; Europe. Cancer continued to recede and began coughing up spicules of bone from the cancer breaking down in lungs.


1977 June-Dec

Back in Torquay, Victoria. Maintained the diet, meditation, positive attitude, natural therapies and personal development.


1978 July

Following extensive tests, cancer pronounced all clear, but tuberculosis diagnosed. Treatment commenced. Doctors advised given the medical history that recovery is likely to take around one year. Intensified the diet, meditation. TB cleared in 3 weeks.


1978 September

Case reported by Dr Ainslie Meares in Medical Journal of Australia (MJA), (see full report earlier). Media attention led to increased enquiries from other cancer patients and families.



You Can Conquer Cancer is published by Hill of Content and launched by Sir Edward “Weary” Dunlop, patron of the Anti-Cancer Council and long-term advocate for Ian’s work.


ABC TV presented a landmark, Mind-body Medicine documentary featuring the work of Ian and Dr Ainslie Meares called Mind the Healer, Mind the Slayer.



Ian’s left lung was removed following ongoing complications from bronchiectasis and scarring resultant from the TB. Histology confirmed there was a boney lesion removed with the lung that was consistent with osteogenic sarcoma treated with chemotherapy. Health is now very good.



Ian’s medical case – a thirty year follow up of Dr Ainslie Meares’ report in 1978 authored by Professor George Jelinek and Dr Ruth Gawler was published in the Medical Journal of Australia.



Oncologists dispute Ian’s diagnosis of secondary cancer in the Internal Medical Journal of Australia, instead hypothesising that he only had TB. The article is rejected by the Medical Journal of Australia on the grounds of lacking potential to advance medical practice, lacking patient consent and introducing no new facts about the case. The article is also strongly refuted by Gawler, his original treating doctors and other oncologists and tuberculosis specialists. 



Ian currently continues to enjoy all round good health. 



Ruth’s Work History


As Dr Ruth Berlin, Ruth graduated from Sydney University in 1981, then spent 2 years as a Resident Medical Officer at Sydney Hospital before working for 2 years in Kenya at the Nairobi Hospital Intensive Care unit and Tumu-Tumu Hospital (a Presbyterian Mission Hospital in the Kikuyu Highlands).

Ruth returned to Australia in 1985 to work and study at The Rozelle Hospital as a Psychiatry Registrar and then she completed her training with the Family Medicine Program (RACGP).Dr Ruth Gawler

From 1990-95 Ruth worked at the Central Australian Aboriginal Congress in Alice Springs. She was acting Medical Director of the Family Planning Association of Central Australia from 1991-1997.

Prompted in the early nineties by personal difficulties with a debilitating back condition and severe depression, which were both diagnosed as chronic and incurable, Ruth began to expand her way of thinking about health and healing. She used an Integrative Medicine approach that included a number of healing modalities, and over a matter of a few years experienced a full recovery.

After 10 years in Central Australia, Ruth moved to Victoria to marry Ian Gawler in 2000, and has been working at The
Gawler Cancer Foundation and for Insight Health Services since 2001.

In 2001 Ruth completed a Masters in General Practice Psychiatry and is a vocationally registered member of the RACGP and Meditation Australia.

Currently, Ruth no longer works in a standard medical practice. She presents for a morning at the follow-up cancer programs with the Gawler Foundation staff, and leads her own meditation retreats. These retreats can be attended without any prior experience in meditation, for beginners and more experienced meditators who would like to re-energise and deepen their practice of meditation.


More information about Ruth’s retreats can be found here









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