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Old 07-25-2006, 06:21 PM   #1
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The Village Went Too Far?

Judge Lifts Order for Cancer Treatment

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A judge ruled Tuesday that a 16-year-old cancer patient who has refused conventional medical treatment does not have to report to a hospital as previously ordered and scheduled a trial to settle the dispute.

Starchild Abraham Cherrix, who is battling Hodgkin's disease, a cancer of the lymphatic system, refused a second round of chemotherapy when he learned early this year that the cancer had returned.

Abraham chose to instead go on a sugar-free, organic diet and take herbal supplements under the supervision of a clinic in Mexico.

A social worker asked a juvenile court judge to require the teen to continue conventional treatment, and the judge on Friday ordered Abraham to report to a hospital Tuesday. Accomack County Circuit Court Judge Glen A. Tyler set aside that order.
When should the government take over the roll from the parent, and when does it go to far? What principles can we derive from this case?
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Old 07-25-2006, 06:36 PM   #2
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I think this is a very inportant question. But very complex.

It seems to me by reading this small clip that the 16 year old tryed chemo but it failed. He then made a decision to try an alternate form of cancer therapy. To me this case is clear cut, he has the right to choose his treatment. And the fact that he is 16 years old is a contributing factor.

Now for the murkier side of the subject.

If this were a 8 year old that was born into a religous cult (well to me all religions are cults, but for this arguement the cult like those people that took those pills with their Nikes on so they could go to the meteor, I'm rambling) and they were to say that they're doctrine was that nobody was allowed to have any medical treatment and this 8yr old could be saved with a short trip to the doctor, then I say you must take the power of choice from the parents. This 8yr old does not know any different, does not have the capacity to research other methods or cures. This IMO constitutes neglect and child abuse.

I would say the biggest factor is that at a certain age, and 16 is a pretty mature age (relative to 8 yrs old), we must weigh their maturity againist that of which their parents imposed beliefs.
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Old 07-25-2006, 08:47 PM   #3
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I think he should be allowed to choose his form of treatment. Conventional cancer treatment isn't for everyone. It causes unpleasant side-effects like nausea, hair loss, and sterilization for men. In fact, my neighbor is a Hodgkin's survivor. The only way he and his wife were able to get children was by adopting. He's Lebanese and the Lebanese people put alot of emphasis on having children. Sixteen is old enough to choose. If he were an eight-year old kid, I'd feel differently because he'd be too young to choose.
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Old 07-25-2006, 09:22 PM   #4
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As side issue then, the age of 16 is too old to be considered a minor still? This kid has joint custody by social services and his parents. Obviously legally he is not considered an adult, yet if the general view is he is old enough to make his own decision, then surely he is capable of taking care of himself? If he is capable of making such a life decision regarding treatment of a terminal cancer, then surely he is old enough to go out into the real world on his own without such a juvenile problem as custody? I digress. This is the grey area for me. I'm not fully convinced he is adult enough. Our emotional age changes dramatically from year to year during that period of late teens into early adulthood.

In all, I dont think turning away from any possible chance at curing a vicious cancer is a smart choice. Without placing my views on this kid, I just simply wonder if he and his (apparent) fractured family have fully investigated the decision.
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Old 07-26-2006, 12:09 AM   #5
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I agree with you Angela, 16 is sort of the grey area, but for me his attempt at chemo once shows me that he has tried one method and might have decided to go another way.

Also, as a side, I have always be of the opinion that 16 should be the legal voting age and the age at which you are an adult.
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Old 07-26-2006, 01:23 AM   #6
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^True, that. I didn't actually think of him already having tried chemo, too. I know some say it is as horrid as the illness from some cancers. I'm betting it's agressive, in it's return. I'm still for fighting it with absolutely everything available. That includes both eastern and western medicine.
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Old 07-26-2006, 01:32 AM   #7
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I think that a 16 year old child that is fighting cancer is growing up very fast. I think he will be able to make his own choice on the kind of theraphy he wants.
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Old 07-26-2006, 05:03 AM   #8
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Lets hope that placebo works.
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Old 07-26-2006, 10:09 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by Rono
I think that a 16 year old child that is fighting cancer is growing up very fast. I think he will be able to make his own choice on the kind of theraphy he wants.
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Old 07-26-2006, 04:13 PM   #10
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Apparently this is the treatment method and clinic (in Tijuana) Cherrix wishes to use. From what I've read, this judge's decision is temporary and pending further hearings involving people from this clinic testifying, etc.--i.e., it's still up in the air whether he'll in fact ultimately be forced to undergo more chemo or not.

I really don't know much about past precedents in this sort of case, perhaps nb or someone could fill me in. A 16 year old is still a minor under US law, and I thought it was generally the case that the state does indeed intervene in loco parentis in instances where, for example, a Christian Scientist child's parents attempt to refuse medical treatment in favor of faith healing. I'm not sure why this case should be treated any differently? Perhaps this stuff is generally decided on a state-by-state/case-by-case basis?

As far as the advisability of allowing Cherrix and his parents to choose this course of treatment, I just don't know. From what I understand, Hodgkin's disease actually has one of the better cure rates among cancers (when treated medically). Yes, I've no doubt the chemo is grueling, and I can only imagine how devastating it must be to be contemplating repeating it all over again after such a short time and with so little result. But to choose a treatment course with only anecdotal claims supporting it, and not very impressive anecdotal claims at that...I can't imagine choosing a course like this for my (minor) child. Like Angela said, combine them if you like (and if interactions are not a concern), but considering the statistical likelihood that the one might work versus the other...

That said, I suppose you do have to take into account the potential negative health effects of subjecting him first to the trauma of seizing custody from his parents, then forcibly subjecting him to chemo when he is determined not to repeat it.
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Old 07-26-2006, 05:22 PM   #11
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I thought this thread was about how "The Village" ruined M. Night Shyamalan's career (and further, hosed "Lady in the Water"'s box office performance). How disappointing to learn that I was wrong.
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Old 07-26-2006, 05:25 PM   #12
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It's been all over the news here in Virginia, quite interesting. Whatever happens, I hope the treatment works for him...he's also very well spoken for a 16 year old, his parents are letting him talk to the cameras instead of taking over themselves.
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Old 07-26-2006, 06:22 PM   #13
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I think this case hits a weak spot along a number of different principles by which we live, address medical situations, raise children, etc.

A Minor’s Right to make Medical Decisions. As a minor, he is unable to provide informed consent to determine his own course of medical treatment. In the United States, a minor cannot receive an aspirin from a school nurse unless the parents consent (though, a girl can get an abortion without her parents knowing ). In this situation, we are dealing with a minor’s ability to opt-out of medical treatment, instead of consenting to treatment. Should there be a different standard? Should a minor be able to opt out if the parents consent to the medical treatment?

Free Exercise of Religion. Medical treatment of minors can be influenced by religious belief of the parents. Is there much difference between denying standard medical care in favor of prayer or herbal supplements? At what point does the State step in to say the free exercise of religion (be it through organized religion or free form spiritual practices) places an unacceptable risk on the health of a minor? Should this analysis be reserved for medical treatment, potential risk of physical harm, or potential risk of any harm?

General Power of Social Services. When we find a child locked in a cage who is rescued by Social Services, we say “Thank God” they were there. What if the threat of harm was not so obvious, or imminent? It does not take much effort for a social services worker to shift a burden of proof – forcing the parent to prove they are acting in a correct manner.
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Old 07-26-2006, 06:23 PM   #14
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This alternative form of treatment doesn't have an impressive track record, that's for sure. I can understand why they want him to go through with the chemo, it's more dependable. This is a tough call.
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Old 07-26-2006, 09:03 PM   #15
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Hoxsey actually claims a very high success rate and if I were diagnosed with cancer I would absolutely look into it. I never cease to be amazed by how skeptical people are of alternative health. Knowing someone who was given the "get your affairs in order" speech and then cured himself of Stage V cancer, along with my own repeated negative experiences with the medical establishment vs. my very excellent experiences with herbs and supplements and other alternative paths, I wouldn't take the chemo/radiation route for anything and it would break my heart to have chemo/radiation forced on someone who was underaged when there are so many incredible options.

Since Dr. Weil is a popular, credible voice in the alternative health community, here's what he has to say about it:

The Hoxsey Formula: Developed in the 1800s by a farmer who claimed that herbs cured his horse’s cancer, the Hoxsey formula was popularized as a human cancer treatment by the farmer’s great-grandson, Harry Hoxsey, a Dallas entrepreneur. The formula consists of the regular use of a liquid herbal tonic along with dietary changes; topical pastes containing bloodroot and other compounds are also sometimes applied to external cancers. Despite anecdotal reports of success, the medical establishment labeled Hoxsey a quack, forcing him and his nurse Mildred Nelson to move their clinic to Tijuana, Mexico. Today the clinic operates under the direction of Nelson’s sister, and still claims high success rates.

The evidence: The Hoxsey formula hasn’t been formally studied. However, lab and animal studies suggest that many of the herbs in the tonic (such as red clover, burdock root, cascara, and prickly ash bark) do have anticancer properties, and conventional doctors have even used a paste identical to Hoxsey’s to successfully remove skin cancers. I’m intrigued by the Hoxsey formula, and hope that if research confirms its effectiveness, it will someday be more widely used.

To learn more: See When Healing Becomes a Crime by Kenny Ausubel (Healing Arts Press, 2000).


In terms of whether a 16 year old can make such a decision, I tend to agree with bonoman. Just because a 16 year old may not be equipped to fully take care of himself out in the real world doesn't mean that he isn't capable of doing a lot of research and understanding his cancer and the options available to him. Some 16 year olds I know are quite amazing and know more about many things than many adults I know. It isn't a black and white issue and my bias towards alternative healing methods no doubt colors my perception on this. I certainly think he should be allowed to speak for himself and to be heard, and opinions from alternative as well as traditional medical experts should all be weighed in.
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