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Thread: Right To Chose Treatment Even When It's Unconventional?

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    Hit By Ban Bus! UndercoverGator's Avatar
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    Default Right To Chose Treatment Even When It's Unconventional?

    I've been following this case with interest for awhile now as I was quite unaware that a teen and his parents apparently do not have the right under Virginia state law to decide the best course of treatment during about with cancer. Seems wrong to me not to have any autonomy in the decision over your own body or your child's body even if the parents are obviously hippy freak enough to have named him "Starchild"

    Teen puts on gloves in fight to treat cancer

    The Associated Press
    Monday, July 10, 2006

    CHINCOTEAGUE - Three months of chemotherapy last year made Starchild Abraham Cherrix nauseated and so weak that at times the tall, skinny teenager had to be carried by his father because he couldn’t walk.

    So when Abraham, as he’s usually called, learned in February that the cancer was active once again, he balked when doctors recommended another round of the drugs, as well as radiation.

    “I think it would kill me the second time,” said Abraham, who instead turned to a sugar-free organic diet, herbs and visits to a clinic in Mexico to treat his Hodgkin’s disease, a cancer of the lymph nodes.

    Today, Abraham and his family will be in juvenile court in Accomack County for a closed hearing to determine whether the 16-year-old can make his own medical decisions - and whether he can keep living with his parents and four siblings on Chincoteague, an island off Virginia’s Eastern Shore.

    A social worker had asked a judge to require Abraham to continue conventional treatment, and in May the judge issued a temporary order finding Jay and Rose Cherrix neglectful for supporting their son’s choice to pursue alternatives.

    Judge Jesse E. Demps also ordered the parents to share custody of Abraham with the Accomack County Department of Social Services; they face losing custody completely.

    “It’s scary that they can come in and they can do this to you,” said Jay Cherrix, who runs a kayak business next door to the family’s home.

    “It’s hard enough to deal with a child having this disease, and then to have to deal with this (court case) as if we were criminals ...,” Cherrix said, his voice trailing.

    Barry Taylor, Abraham’s attorney, said the case could set a precedent allowing social workers to intervene in any situation in which they disagree with a family’s decisions about medical treatment.

    “The state’s rights should not be superior to parents’ rights,” Taylor said. “It’s almost communistic, like the state knows best.”

    Mary E. Parker, director of the social services department, said she could not discuss Abraham’s case because of privacy laws.

    In a similar case, the parents of 13-year-old Hodgkin’s disease patient Katie Wernecke won the right in November to make all her medical decisions after a court fight with child welfare officials in Corpus Christi, Texas. While doctors had recommended chemotherapy and radiation, her father favored intravenous vitamin C.

    Hodgkin’s disease is considered very treatable through conventional means and has a five-year survival rate of at least 80 percent, according to the Lymphoma Information Network.

    Abraham was diagnosed last summer after he found a knot on his neck that turned out to be a swollen lymph node full of cancer cells. Tests revealed he also had a tumor near his windpipe.

    To undergo chemotherapy, he made repeated visits to the nearest children’s hospital, two hours away in Norfolk.

    In December, Abraham learned there were no more active cancer cells. After active cancer cells were spotted again two months later, doctors wanted to give him massive amounts of chemo, plus radiation, Abraham and his parents said.

    “They wanted to bring me to the brink of death, then bring me back, try to restore me with stem cells,” said Abraham, who is home-schooled and has a brother who is autistic and a sister who needs back surgery.

    Abraham and his parents researched alternative medicine and heard about the Hoxsey treatment of liquid herbal supplements and a diet heavy on fresh fruits and vegetables. The treatment used to be available in the United States but proponents moved their clinic from Texas to Mexico in the early 1960s after repeated clashes with federal authorities.

    Rose Cherrix said she supports her son’s decision to follow this approach because he is mature and thoughtful.

    “He had been through the chemo and he knew what it did to him,” she said. “He knew more than any of us what his body was going through.”

    Jay Cherrix initially was skeptical but said he changed his mind when he took Abraham to the Bio-Medical Center in Tijuana in March to begin treatment and found the staff professional and warm.

    Cherrix now administers herbs to his son four times a day, carefully decanting into a small measuring glass a dark elixir with ingredients such as licorice and red clover. Father and son also pray together before Abraham drinks the concoction.

    Abraham and his parents think a doctor reported them to Social Services for not continuing with chemotherapy, landing them in court. The judge forbid the family to leave Virginia, though he allowed Abraham to return to the Mexican clinic last month only after the teen had X-rays to assess his disease.

    The X-rays showed the chest tumor had grown mildly, Abraham said, adding that he wasn’t surprised because natural treatment takes some time to work its way into the body. He said, though, that he has a lot of energy and feels great.

    Jay Cherrix said he is not worried about Abraham using the method and will keep fighting for his son’s right to continue it, even though he estimated medical and legal costs have helped put the family $100,000 in debt.

    “I am worried because he has cancer,” Cherrix said. “It’s the responsibility of all parents, when their children are sick, to get them the best care that they possibly can.”

    “When Abraham got cancer, it devastated all of us,” he continued. “I carried him in from the (chemotherapy) treatments and he looked as if he was a survivor from a concentration camp. We thought many nights we were going to lose him.”
    http://www.starexponent.com/servlet/...=1149189051541

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    Elite Member Sojiita's Avatar
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    Default Re: Right To Chose Treatment Even When It's Unconventional?

    You know why they made this kind of law. Some whacko religious nuts probably thought that 'faith-healing' would cure their children and then said children died. At least they are determining if the kid can decide on his own. I think this kind of law is there to protect children from nutcase parents. What about a 10 year old who does not believe in 'faith-healing'..and WANTS conventional treatment..but is denied it because of the religious views of the parents? I bet situations like that led to the creation of a law like this one. Also they have to determine if the kid is actually 'mature' enough to make these kind of decisions...I think it is more a case of safeguards put in the system to protect minors that have unexpected consequences.

    *also note the kids name 'Abraham'..and they pray before he drinks his 'elixirs'..sounds like religious nutcase time to me. Plus they are from Virginia! and wtf with the kids? 1 with cancer, 1 autistic, the last needing back surgery?..possible inbreeding????*

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    Hit By Ban Bus! UndercoverGator's Avatar
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    Default Re: Right To Chose Treatment Even When It's Unconventional?

    Too much smoka de ganga during the pregnancies it sounds like to me what with this first name of "Starchild" Wonder if the family are hippies who morphed into fundies later?

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    Elite Member Sojiita's Avatar
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    Default Re: Right To Chose Treatment Even When It's Unconventional?

    Quote Originally Posted by UndercoverGator
    Too much smoka de ganga during the pregnancies it sounds like to me what with this first name of "Starchild" Wonder if the family are hippies who morphed into fundies later?
    Maybe 'starchild' is just a shortened form of "Jesus Christ Superstar Child"

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    Gold Member Delphinium's Avatar
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    Default Re: Right To Chose Treatment Even When It's Unconventional?

    I think in this case the teen is choosing a less invasive and painful way without understanding the reality of his situation.

    The type of cancer he has is so treatable, perhaps talking with his doctor about symptom control and management would have been a better idea. It is a shame he may die because of poor symptom control.

    But on the other hand, the parents are bone-heads. If that kid is totally serious, they should have quietly allowed him to become an "emancipated minor" and he could tell the state to mind their own business.

    The modern healthcare/hospital setting can be very impersonal and hard to navigate for people, and it seems as if this family isn't being listened to regarding how his previous treatment affected him. Which has now led to all this drama, and the poor kid might die from it.

    But then, forcing him to undergo treatment could also cause him to become "depressed" and give up and die anyway. Or traumatize him so much that he gets PTSD or something similar. (If I were him the minute I saw 18 I would sue the doctor and the social worker). Because basically he will be being physically assaulted with the courts permission repeatedly.

    sad all the way around.

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    Elite Member Lobelia's Avatar
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    Default Re: Right To Chose Treatment Even When It's Unconventional?

    This was in our local paper yesterday. It's a tough ethical call. I'm hesitant to say that the state should be able to intervene, because it's not difficult to conceive of situations where different traditional doctors disagree about treatments, so who makes the final (i.e., legal) decision? What if parents disagree?

    Then again, I don't like the idea of letting a small child with a fatal disease be allowed to die due to religious issues.
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    Elite Member Sojiita's Avatar
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    Default Re: Right To Chose Treatment Even When It's Unconventional?

    This is a tough one. I am surprised to say that I agree with everything Delphinium said! Who woulda thought it possible?

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    Default Re: Right To Chose Treatment Even When It's Unconventional?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sojiita
    This is a tough one. I am surprised to say that I agree with everything Delphinium said! Who woulda thought it possible?
    Yeah, same here. Very well thought out and the best solutions all the way around. Delphinium if I were wearing a hat right now I'd tip it to you.

    I can see the parents not wanting to put the kid through bouts of chemo because it's so tough on the rest of your body and can lead to all sorts of horrible other problems later. Chemo can not just kill your cancer, it can kill you off too in the processe If there's a possibility that the non traditional medicine they're using can work why not allow them to try it. It's not like they are refusing all treatment for his cancer, just the ones that could have long term negative effects on him. That's much different and more responsible than saying they won't be doing the treatments because they're waiting on Jebus, Allllah or Moohammed to heal him.

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    Default Re: Right To Chose Treatment Even When It's Unconventional?

    I think people should have the choice to choose their own medicine and treatment, but they have to face the consequences of their choices. No whining or damn suing after!

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    Elite Member Grimmlok's Avatar
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    Default Re: Right To Chose Treatment Even When It's Unconventional?

    Choice.. in short supply in the US these days..
    I am from the American CIA and I have a radio in my head. I am going to kill you.

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    Gold Member Delphinium's Avatar
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    Default Re: Right To Chose Treatment Even When It's Unconventional?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sojiita
    This is a tough one. I am surprised to say that I agree with everything Delphinium said! Who woulda thought it possible?
    i'm sure it is a sign of the apocalypse... lol

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    Elite Member sputnik's Avatar
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    Default Re: Right To Chose Treatment Even When It's Unconventional?

    i think the state should be allowed to intervene. the kid can make his own choices when he's 18. and IMO the only way he'll get a chance to do that is if the state steps in and gives him chemo. and counselling. and de-programming to undo the fundie-hippie crap his parents have put in his head.
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    Elite Member Sojiita's Avatar
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    Default Re: Right To Chose Treatment Even When It's Unconventional?

    Quote Originally Posted by Delphinium
    i'm sure it is a sign of the apocalypse... lol


    Quote Originally Posted by sputnik
    i think the state should be allowed to intervene. the kid can make his own choices when he's 18. and IMO the only way he'll get a chance to do that is if the state steps in and gives him chemo. and counselling. and de-programming to undo the fundie-hippie crap his parents have put in his head.
    but he may be able to become 'emancipated' where he will be considered to have the rights of an adult(kind of..?). Not that infrequent for teens 16 or 17.

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    Gold Member Delphinium's Avatar
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    Default Re: Right To Chose Treatment Even When It's Unconventional?

    Quote Originally Posted by sputnik
    i think the state should be allowed to intervene. the kid can make his own choices when he's 18. and IMO the only way he'll get a chance to do that is if the state steps in and gives him chemo. and counselling. and de-programming to undo the fundie-hippie crap his parents have put in his head.
    i don't know.. for a 16 year old to have his right to bodily integrity taken away is going to mentally damage that kid for years and years to come. the treatment he will receive (chemo and rads) require many needlesticks (or an implanted port or picc line etc which are NO fun!) and he may need to be tatooed for the radiation. Both have serious side-effects that go along with them. To be a willing participant in all this is one thing.. but an unwilling one?

    I shudder at the thought, what if he tries to resist the IV placement? Since he may not have the "right to refuse" he could technically be either physically restrained or chemically sedated/restrained to put it in. Then lets say he won't lie still for the radiation. They WILL physically restrain him.

    I wouldn't do that to my dog, much less a fellow human being.

    I feel VERY sorry for this boy if he loses his rights. Maybe he should have stayed in Mexico.

    I actually find myself feeling really strongly about this to the point that if there is a place to write to etc. I will do it.

    The feeling of absolute horror that comes over me thinking of a teenager (or anyone) having medical care forced upon them, chemicals put into them etc.. (even if it is for their own good) is absolute.

    Far as I'm concerned, your rights end where my skin starts. I can postulate all day long about what I "think" or "feel" is right, but when you actually touch/harm/force another human to go along with it.. that is over the line in my book.

    a contradiction sure... but that is how i feel in this case.

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    Hit By Ban Bus! pacific breeze's Avatar
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    Default Re: Right To Chose Treatment Even When It's Unconventional?

    That's exactly how I feel about abortion, not to change the subject, but it's the same analogy.

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