Over the couple of days or so, a minor flurry of comments have hit the ol’ blog. I hate to let commenters dictate the content of my blog, but it’s strictly a coincidence that this happens to be a post I had been planning sometime this week anyway and it comes around the same time as the minor altie comment deluge hit the blog. Or maybe it’s not such a coincidence, coming as it does in the wake of a court hearing relevant to the case of Starchild Abraham Cherrix. Recent commenters have castigated me, claiming that the Hoxsey treatment is not quackery; asserting that cancer is “not due to a chemo deficiency“; telling me that I should have a “more open mind” while at the same time calling me and other skeptics “morons”; assuring me (and us other nasty skeptics) he would pray for us spiritual healing, while ranting about the perceived evils of conventional medicine; and making wild and unsubstantiated claims that untreated cancer patients live four times longer than treated patients based on a dubious “study” from 37 years ago, that, as far as I’m able to tell, has never been published in the peer reviewed literature.

I tell ya, it’s been a while since I have been subjected to so much altie vitriol.

All of this makes me wonder if (1) whether the posts that I had written before had somehow been distributed to an altie mailing list somewhere (certainly, I couldn’t find any referring links that would explain the sudden influx of comments on posts that were between two to six weeks old) or (2) lots of people were doing the same thing as I in anticipation of this case and had seen my previous posts popping up in their Google searches, which is certainly possible. Either way, it’s led to an influx of died-in-the-wool alties castigating me. What provoked this lurry of comments was my recent posts about Starchild Abraham Cherrix, a now 16-year-old Virginian boy diagnosed last year with lymphoma and who refused further chemotherapy when he relapsed, opting instead for the quackery known as the Hoxsey treatment at an altie clinic in Tijuana, a therapy that involves taking a bunch of herbal concoctions with no known efficacy against cancer. Recently, a court-ordered imaging study showed that his tumor had grown, but Abraham dismissed it, saying that his healer had told him that his tumors would grow a bit before they started to shrink, leading to my post entitled Magical Thinking versus Lymphoma. (It never ceases to amaze me how alties will so easily make excuses for the failure of their preferred treatment that they would never accept if made for a conventional medical therapy.) Whatever the cause, however, coincidence or my posts being circulated on an e-mail list, I will stick to the plan, since I have found a couple of news articles about Abraham. Here’s an excerpt from the first one:

(AP) 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 he 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.

On Monday, Abraham and his family will be in juvenile court 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.


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.

Hmmm. I wonder if Rose would support her son’s decision so strongly if he wanted to have sex or wanted to do drugs–as long as he came to his decision in a “mature and thoughtful” manner, of course. Somehow, I doubt it. Even if Abraham is indeed “thoughtful,” he’s apparently not thoughtful enough (or he’s thoughtful in a non-analytical way). For one thing, he’s based his decision on a lie, a lie told to him when the doctors at the Tijuana clinic told him that the Hoxsey treatment cured 80% of patients with cancer treated. If that were really the case, then Abraham’s decision would not be unreasonable. Sadly, however, there is no evidence whatsoever to think that the Hoxsey treatment is that effective or that it is even effective at all at halting the progress of lymphoma. Instead, he and his family have bought into the magical thinking:

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.

The court hearing itself apparently finished up on Tuesday:

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A teen cancer patient fighting to use alternative medical treatment told a juvenile court judge in a two-day, closed hearing what it’s like to go through chemotherapy and that he didn’t want to relive it.

“I told him my story … so he could understand where I was coming from and live through me,” Starchild Abraham Cherrix, 16, said.

In all, the judge heard 11 hours of testimony before the hearing concluded late Tuesday. At issue is if the teen 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.

The judge is expected to issue a written decision by July 18.

The teen, who goes by Abraham, has Hodgkin’s disease, a cancer of the lymph nodes.

Three months of chemotherapy last year made him extremely weak. So when he learned in February that his cancer was active again, he turned – against doctors’ advice – to a sugar-free organic diet, herbs and visits to a clinic in Mexico.

A social worker asked a judge to require the teen to continue conventional treatment.

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.

Abraham’s parents face losing custody completely.

“What it boils down to is does the American family have the right to decide on the health of their child,” Jay Cherrix said, “or is the government allowed to come in and determine that themselves and threaten one way or the other to split our family up?”

Abraham and his parents think a doctor reported them to Social Services for not continuing with chemotherapy. The judge initially forbid the family to leave Virginia, then let Abraham return to the Mexican clinic last month after the teen had X-rays to assess his disease.

The X-rays showed the chest tumor had grown mildly, Abraham said.

I think that everyone knows my position on the specific decision that the Cherrixes are making; so I won’t belabor it other than a brief summary. It’s magical thinking that has led to a very foolish one that will preclude Abraham’s surviving his cancer. The Hoxsey treatment is quackery and will not cure Abraham, for reasons that I’ve enumerated in detail. Conventional therapy (high dose chemotherapy followed by stem cell transplant) has probably around a 50-50 chance of resulting in long-term survival, down from 80% or more, mainly because his tumor relapsed after an initial course of chemotherapy, implying that it is a more aggressive tumor. Also, this is not a matter of Abraham’s giving up and letting nature take its course because his situation is hopeless, a perfectly rational decision in cases that really are hopeless. Abraham clearly wants to live and believes that the Hoxsey treatment has a better chance of curing him than chemotherapy and without the nasty side effects. He has in essence fallen for a lie and, if successful in his quest, will pay for it with his life.

Adults, of course, are perfectly free to choose the lie of quackery over evidence-based medicine if they desire. Indeed, they do so all the time, and some of them pay a horrible price for it. It is assumed that, because they are autonomous adults, they can choose whatever they wish when it comes to their health. Children, however, are a different matter. There is no disagreement that, below a certain age, children are not capable of making such decisions rationally and must therefore depend on their parents to look out for their best interests. That is why they are not allowed to vote, drink alcoholic beverages, or sign legally binding contracts. As this article points out:

Although he is not old enough to cast a vote or buy an alcoholic drink, Abraham argues that he is old enough to make decisions about treatment to save his life.

The disagreement is, of course, over just that in Abraham’s case (and occasional cases like his), given that some children may mature more quickly and thus become capable of such decisions sooner and some later. (We’ll leave aside the frequently observation that some never reach this stage, no matter how old they get.) The real difficulty in deciding such issues comes when parents choose a course for their child that is so obviously not in the child’s best interest or, as in this case, when they “support” a decision by their child over medical care that is clearly going to lead to the child’s death. Whether it is because of their own beliefs or because they are “supporting” their child’s bad decision (or a combination of the two) doesn’t much matter, the end result is the same.

We as a society expect that the state will step in when parents fail in their duty to act in the best interests of the child. Usually, because we value freedom and the autonomy of parents to raise their children as they see fit, the state is, contrary to the claims of Cherrix’s defenders, usually pretty slow to intervene, sometimes with tragic results. Worse, all too often when the state does intervene its actions arguably make the situation worse. Indeed, a case like Abraham’s does, despite the fury of my attacks on the quackery and my pointing out the magical thinking that has doomed this child to an early grave if the state doesn’t intervene, nonetheless causes conflict in me. My libertarian leanings and distrust of government intrusion into family life and how parents raise their children butts up against my absolute abhorrence of quackery and seeing a child suffer because of a bad decision or parental beliefs. When Abraham’s lawyer argues that letting the state take custody of Abraham would open the door to social workers invoking the power of the state when they do not agree with medical care decisions made by the parents, I can’t dismiss it completely, even though I know it’s an overblown argument, the obvious retort to which is that social workers have had that power for years to act when they perceive a child being endangered by unconventional medical practices. So what makes this case such a threat to parent autonomy compared to the many cases that have gone before?

In the end, I tend to view such a case as no different from Jehovah’s Witnesses who refuse to allow a life-saving transfusion in their child or Christian Scientists who think that prayer will cure their child of deadly diseases. In the case of a minor (for example Katie Wernecke, who is only 14), the state has the right and duty to intervene to prevent harm. However, Abraham is older and at an age that is more of a gray area. Consequently, the question hinges on whether or not Abraham demonstrates the maturity to be considered an adult and thus free to choose his own therapy, even if it is quackery that he chooses. I’m not sure that I know the answer. A strike against Abraham is that his thinking has not clearly not exactly been reality-based thus far, and certainly his parents haven’t helped matters by feeding his magical thinking.

Neither have all the alties like the ones who have recently descended upon my blog who are touting his decision (and are presumably sending Abraham similar letters of support) as a life-saving repudiation of the “poison” and “burning” of conventional medicine and who believe, without evidence, that the Hoxsey treatment has a high probability of curing Abraham with no side effects. I’m guessing that, when Abraham ultimately dies, many of them will just sadly shrug and say it was God’s will.

The ruling is due July 18, and I’ll try to keep an eye out for it.

ADDENDUM: I just found out that Abraham was on Sean Hannity’s radio program yesterday. That may explain some of this. A lot of people are probably Googling his name.


  1. #1 Andrew Dodds
    July 13, 2006

    There is something in my local area:


    Very unfortunate case, but the fact that the parents are remortgaging the house and essentially impoverishing themselves for no reason (not to mention sending kids out house-to-house collecting) is disturbing.

  2. #2 anjou
    July 13, 2006

    If Abraham or his family read this excellent post, I’d like to invite them to come to a hodgkins support board and talk to transplant survivors who are doing well and grateful for the treatment:

    There is not one patient on the list who survived relapse with hoxey or any other alternative therapy like that.

  3. #3 Scenedesmeriffic
    July 13, 2006

    It’s so sad, this case, since Hodgkin’s is so eminently curable with proper treatment in the majority of cases. This poor kid is reducing his survival chances by the month.

    My brother was lucky enough to have a sharp pediatrician, who recognized something strange was going on with him and referred him to a specialist immediately. As a result, his Hodgkin’s was diagnosed and treated in a very early stage. He got sent to St. Jude to particpate in a study, which paid for his treatment. His affected lymph nodes were treated with surgery and radiation alone, and that did the trick for him, and now, thirty years later, he’s still doing fine.

    Our family realizes how lucky we were, though, to have had his condition caught so early. I don’t think any of us will ever forget the kids who had to go through chemo. I know the support of friends and family helped them immeasurably throughout the process. This is only an anecdotal observation, but it seems like the younger kids had an easier time of it than the older kids– it’s likely the young kids didn’t understand or dwell on the bad parts of the treatment as much as their teenage counterparts. I would question the wisdom of letting a sixteen-year-old make life-threatening decisions precisely because in terms of emotional development they’re on the very cusp of being able to apppreciate the consequences and not really all the way there yet. As such, I would consider them particularly vulnerable to the brand of false hope alt-health offers.

    I really appreciate your continuing coverage of this issue.

  4. #4 M
    July 13, 2006

    Weirdly, I’ve been looking up medical consent in Scottish Law.

    “A person under the age of 16 years shall have legal capacity to consent on his own behalf to any surgical, medical or dental procedure or treatment where, in the opinion of a qualified medical practitioner attending him, he is capable of understanding the nature and possible consequences of the procedure or treatment.”

    Neat version of what Orac was saying. But since Abraham is 16 here he could do what he liked; the only way of stopping him would be to section him under the Mental Health act, or to find that he ‘lacked capacity’ to make decisions under the Adults with Incapacity Act

  5. #5 firefalluk
    July 13, 2006

    I tell ya, it’s been a while since I have been subjected to so much altie vitriol.
    You must be doing something write*

    And while I feel sorry for Adam, this comes close to the old too-dumb-to-live rubric, I’m afraid.

    *sorry, never met a pun I didnt like

  6. #6 quitter
    July 13, 2006

    The reason you get so much crap is because your attacking their religion. That’s what alternative medicine is for many people. It has all the right components, and it results in all the same effects as religious ideologies like Christian Science. For instance, they fanatically hold onto easily debunked medical beliefs without any evidence, they have a need to proselytize, and feeling of persecution from nonbelievers and scientists, and they make irrational medical choices that are bad for themselves and family members.

    This reminds me so much of when I lived in PA and all the crazy Christian Scientists in the news who were always getting arrested for not giving simple medical care to their kids. I remember a case where the parents refused to bring their little girl in for a benign tumor on her leg, which then grew until they had to keep her out of school. After the truant officer came and found her, they took her from her parents and actually had to amputate the poor girls leg for a tumor that could have been removed with a swift cut from scalpel if they had done it early.

    Same damn thing, different stupid religion.

  7. #7 Prup aka Jim Benton
    July 13, 2006

    Were I the judge, I would make a ruling something like this. I would require two things. First that the supporters of the Hoxey treatment provide evidence to the court of six people who were cured by this treatment, with full medical records (names redacted to provide confidentiality). And/or requiring the boy — without the presence of his parents — to be present at a discussion between proponents and opponents of the Hoxey treatment, and to make his decision, after this discussion, again without consultation with the parents.

    Hopefully, either of these steps would prevent the boy from taking this suicidal act. If it did not, then all I could say is that he should be considered a martyr to ignorance, and hope for their own peace of mind that the parents never realized how they had, in effect, killed their own child.

  8. #8 Elf Eye
    July 13, 2006

    I would not want my seventeen-year old daughter to make the choice that this sixteen-year old boy has made. I wouldn’t want her to make such a decision at eighteen or nineteen, either. However, there comes a time when it may be appropriate for a child to make life-altering (even life-ending) choices, and that stage should not necessarily depend upon whether or not a child has reached the age of majority. (Indeed, I have met many children who were better able to make choices than some “adults” of my acquaintance.) Unlike these parents, I would try to convince my daughter to make a different decision, but I nonetheless believe that a person in the mid-to-late teens may have the capacity and should have the right to choose. We let adults make bad choices; perhaps sometimes we must let near-adults do so as well.

  9. #9 epador
    July 13, 2006

    [opening up a wasp’s nest]

    If we are talking “age of consent” issues, how mature is a 16 year old girl at deciding to have an abortion?

  10. #10 Chris
    July 13, 2006

    Hmm. On the one hand, I believe in a right to suicide, even if you do it indirectly (via smoking, refusing lifesaving medical treatments, etc.)

    On the other hand, it does seem unreasonable to allow children to kill themselves out of respect for their rights. Certain dangerous and/or important decisions are routinely denied to children because of their (believed) inferior decision-making ability.

    But then, how do you define “child”? 16 is pretty old to be calling someone a child. It’s traditional in the West to set the age of majority years after biological adulthood, but does that make it right?

    Tough decision. The judge will most likely decide according to the law, as is his/her duty. But that doesn’t answer the question of what is right. A tragic case all around.

  11. #11 Chris
    July 13, 2006

    If it did not, then all I could say is that he should be considered a martyr to ignorance, and hope for their own peace of mind that the parents never realized how they had, in effect, killed their own child.

    I wouldn’t wish that at all, I’m afraid. Quite aside from the fact that it’s allowing them to escape justice – they might have another child.

    Regardless of what you may think about the patient’s rights or lack thereof, the parents’ behavior is horrible. Sure, they are most likely dupes of these quacks, but don’t they have a responsibility to their child? A responsibility that includes *not* being deluded, so that they can protect him effectively? They are, at best, failures as parents, no matter how the court case turns out.

  12. #12 King Aardvark
    July 13, 2006

    This is almost like the smoking issue. Will we have to lobby the government to get altie kooks from advertising to children? Get them to slap 100% taxes on any altie product or service? If the boy dies, can his parents sue the alties for causing his death, like recent tobacco lawsuits?

    On one hand, people should be able to make their own decisions, but when they’re being mislead into doing something really stupid, we should try to set things right.

    The sad thing is, altie quackery isn’t causing the gullible people to die at a rate at which they would go extinct.

  13. #13 Bart
    July 13, 2006

    This kid wasn’t mislead by any scheming hippies from Mexico. He’s been through treatment before, and after appearing on the radio and tv, we can assume he is aware of what he is doing. When you get a recurrance, especially in a case where conventional treatment cures 85%, it shouldn’t even be a choice. You either do it, or you will probably die. I know by experience that chemo is awful, but when pussying out means death you have to put your comfort aside. If he doens’t want a bmt, it is ridiculous to try to force it on him when there are plenty of sick people who need one that aren’t religious idiots.

  14. #14 phil
    July 13, 2006

    dearest dr. orac,
    I’m an altie. The worst kind. There are no people on the earth that I loath more than docs. Docs are blowhard big mouths, money sucking leaches that prey on the sick. They look down their noses at the very people they bleed of their life savings before they kill them. Isn’t all this name calling stuff fun. Hey here’s a great one. A friend of mine who’s wife is a doc, bought her son ( son just became a doc ) a t-shirt. t-shirt say’s “trust me I’m a doctor”. You know what that means don’t you? Tell your audience what the trade joke is will you?
    Seriously… You say you are a libertarian… What?????
    You’re a libertarian who wants the government to take the parents rights away in this case.? Look it up. You’re no libertarian. You docs are about money and when you’re not you’re about the money. I didn’t give a “rodent’s rear” about medicine until one of you docs tried to kill my son.
    Then the doc lied and changed the paperwork. Then the pediatrician tried to talk me out of the therapy that cured his autism telling me it wouldn’t work. Now that it has worked, he says its a miracle. The therapy is modern medicine’s own hyperbarics. Then I found out that hyperbarics arrest or reverses the symptoms of MS in 93%
    ( read Hyperbaric Medicine Today) I have a sister-in-law bed ridden in a rest home with MS but that doctor told her parents that it wouldn’t work and they wouldn’t even try it at my expense. Last year on the 4th of July my mom had a stroke. Mom had one about 5 years ago and hyperbarics got her back to say 90%. The docs convinced her that the stroke was really bad and recovery was impossible. She had the feeding tube removed. She hung around until the 17th. They say the stroke killed her. You and I both know that she starved to death. “Trust me I’m a doctor”
    I’m an Altie alright. And you docs made me that way.
    I believe in God and in Jesus Christ his son. I believe you doctors are arogant people who believe you are gods.
    Of course I don’t know you and you may be a truly caring person, but the way you write about people who doubt you makes me believe you’re just a doc.
    Love phil,

  15. #15 Lucas McCarty
    July 13, 2006


    Dr Phil?

  16. #16 Hyperion
    July 13, 2006

    That’s gotta be a parody. Oh dear lord tell me that’s a parody.

    Just in case it isn’t:

    Look man, there are good docs and there are bad docs. Fortunately, medical practice is heavily regulated and there are safeguards in place to prevent serious malfeasance. Docs even pay good money to employ otherwise destitute poli-sci majors to help them make sure that they’re complying with all of these regulations (which is good, because you don’t want to see political scientists forced to ply their trade on the street, convincing narcotics dealers to adopt the Laffer curve and getting street gangs registered as PACs), and believe me, the CPT manual alone is twice as thick as my bilingual bible, and that’s just for docs to get paid, much less avoid getting sued.

    I don’t see the need to give up on modern medicine simply because you had a bad experience with a doc. I’ve had bad experiences with ex-girlfriends, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to take a vow of celibacy.

  17. #17 Orac
    July 13, 2006

    I believe in God and in Jesus Christ his son. I believe you doctors are arogant people who believe you are gods.

    Arrogant? No, I’m all too acutely aware of the limitations of my science and craft and am working to better them.

    Personally, I find “healers” like those pushing the Hoxsey treatment to be the arrogant ones. They claim an 80% cure rate on the basis of no real evidence and then attribute the 20% that aren’t cured to “not having enough faith in the treatment” or to “bad attitude.” In other words, they blame the patient when their treatment fails.

    Now that’s arrogant!

  18. #18 Kristjan Wager
    July 14, 2006

    People, why are you talking to him like he is rational? He wrote:

    Then the pediatrician tried to talk me out of the therapy that cured his autism telling me it wouldn’t work.

    Cure autism?

  19. #19 anonimouse
    July 14, 2006

    Phil = John Best

  20. #20 Gorlech
    July 14, 2006

    Not Dr Phil? I’m sad now.

  21. #21 DJ
    July 14, 2006

    My guess, Phil = ForeSam

  22. #22 J Bean
    July 14, 2006

    There was a story in the LA Times last week about a mother in Seattle who kidnapped her infant from a hospital by hiding him in a diaper bag. The “arrogant” doctors wanted to start the baby on dialysis while the mom wanted him to receive “ionic footbaths”. The father felt that this had forced the mom to kidnap the kiddo. He thought that the hospital should have tried the footbath therapy first. Interestingly, the hospital had even offered to bring in a “naturopathic” physician to treat the baby in conjunction with the scientific treatments.

  23. #23 impatientpatient
    July 14, 2006

    Personally, I find “healers” like those pushing the Hoxsey treatment to be the arrogant ones. They claim an 80% cure rate on the basis of no real evidence and then attribute the 20% that aren’t cured to “not having enough faith in the treatment” or to “bad attitude.” In other words, they blame the patient when their treatment fails.

    Now that’s arrogant!

    Yes it is and it is alive and well at a lot of places that purport to be conventional medical centres. Which is why I find you refreshingly honest.

    So….. how does a regular person combat this when presented with it? When it is being offered from a a person in a position of authority? Who has a medical or medically based degree?

    Faith based medicine….. nice. If you REALLY wanted to be healed you would be….

  24. #24 phil
    July 15, 2006

    dearest dr. orac
    I still fail to see much difference between you docs and the quacks. Its like the Wizard of Oz said to the straw man. ‘The only difference between you and them is they have a diploma’. People just believe in you guys. I used to, I just know better now.
    People wake up!!!! “Trust me I’m a doctor”
    The people who blog here are a bunch of suckling little piggies. Doc Orac you are one of the Momma pigs.
    A big fat Sal!!!! Have a great day!
    This name callin’ stuff is fun!

  25. #25 Bardiac
    July 15, 2006

    At what point should one accept the kid’s decision to refuse further treatment?

    The first treatment (which has, according to Orac, an 80% cure rate) failed. And apparently, the kid found the side effects pretty horrible.

    The second round of chemotherapy probably looks far worse (it has been to people I’ve known who’ve had more than one round), and has a far lower success rate. The kid says he thinks it will kill him.

    It sometimes seems that MDs don’t take the bad effects seriously enough, or don’t recognize on some level how bad they are to experience (rather than to see someone else experience). Or maybe they don’t communicate well with the rest of us about the side effects, or try to alleviate them aggressively enough?

    From the kid’s point of view, he’s looking at being forced to do something he thinks will kill him vs being able to choose something that seems far less onerous and seems to offer some hope of cure (even if that’s an illusion. Remember, though, he’s already found himself at the wrong end of the medical statistics).

  26. #26 Marcia
    July 16, 2006

    You say:
    he’s looking at being forced to do something he thinks will kill him vs being able to choose something that seems far less onerous and seems to offer some hope of cure (even if that’s an illusion. Remember, though, he’s already found himself at the wrong end of the medical statistics).

    Ugh. The kid is completely misinformed and it’s all about being informed completely. “seems…”some”…”hope” Those are nice words yet they are lies. There is no “seems” as there is no evidence. There is no “some” as there are no stats. There is no “hope” as cancer is logical.

    You need to study even a little bit to understand how cancer works. As cancer pours over a million new cells per day into your body, you might understand that even waiting a day decreases one’s odds of survival. It’s only time before the immune system becomes overwhelmed.

    Even if not put into remission he has a much greater chance of living longer through chemotherapy cycling and his side effects should be much better controlled with proper administration of medications that can now be received free of charge through many biotech companies if his parents took the time to fill out the paperwork.

  27. #27 kitty
    July 16, 2006

    I think bardiac just wanted to illustrate this kid’s point of view. I think most reasonable people will agree than his hope is indeed an illusion and the chemotherapy offers the only chance he has to live. The main question is if a 16-year old is old enough to refuse treatment – however stupid his decision is. Given that he has already been through one round of chemotherapy and he is 16, I tend to think it is his choice. Still, I am glad I am not a judge.

    I wonder what we would say if instead of “I’ll try the snake oil” the boy’s argument along the lines of short-term quality of life vs a chance of long-term survival but with 50% risk of dying anyway? Would we consider it differently?
    The next round of chemotherapy offers about 50% of survival – based on what the author of this blog says. If you are a pessimist it means that there is a 50% chance of dying in spite of treatment or even during treatment. If you end up in these 50% you’ll have lost the last few months (or however long this kid has without treatment – how long?) of living with more or less good quality of life. I.e. 50% of benefit vs 50% of harm. Granted the benefit of long-term survival is so much larger than the harm of loosing a few months of quality of life. But not if you are among the “unlucky” 50%. Still, most reasonable people would take 50% chance to live, probably even 20% chance to live. But a few may not. Are they stupid just because they don’t agree with most of us? Do we force them? Is 16 mature enough to make this type of decision? 18 seems to be a rather arbitrary line. I met very mature 15-year-olds and very immature adults.

    I don’t know how mature this kid is. Obviously, this kid would have looked much more mature if his arguments didn’t include using snake oil… But then so many adults make the same decision and we don’t force them.

    I really don’t know what the right decision here is – I’d be curious to see what the judge decides. I sure don’t envy the judge.

  28. #28 phil
    July 16, 2006

    to krisjan Wager
    my son’s fight with autism:
    age: 2yrs 7months began hyperbaric oxygen therapy
    no eye to eye contact, 10 to 15 word vocabulary
    not yet diagnosed by a doc(no need, kinda obvious)
    treatment: 16 feet one hour, 100% O2 4-6 days/week
    (chamber was 75 miles away and I work 10hrs/day)

    treatment #65 upon removing my son’s hood he grabbed my cheeks with both hand and was looking me in the eye and babbling. I sought and received a diagnosis from doc’s
    at the University of Louisville.(maybe they are quacks and
    got the diagnosis wrong. They made me come back twice.
    the second time for an autism specific test. $1600 dollars. What a deal to learn something I already knew.
    They are the ones who said he was autistic, but they did say whatever I was doing I should keep it up because my boy had made unbelievable progress since the first visit.
    They also gave me a book on autism and a whole bunch of pamplets, one even said riding a pony helps autistics.
    Now that’s a doc after my own heart…..what an altie!!!)
    275 treatments and fell asleep at the wheel. What a revelation 4 to 5 hours of sleep per night for a year can hurt you. I stopped the nightly trips took out a second mortgage bought my own divers decompression chamber.
    6500 lbs, 14 feet long and 5ft round, priceless.
    My son is in the third grade making A’s and B’s, mostly A’s. He’s a really great kid. I never made another donation to UofL to tell me if he’s cured so maybe I was wrong when I said that he was cured. Good point!!!
    My boy’s doc says its a miracle. Maybe he is right.
    Maybe DOCTOR Philip James or DOCTOR Richard Neubauer or
    the DOCTOR from Brazil(sorry can’t remember his name)
    are correct in some of their research about O2. They help
    people. I think they like people, ie no name calling.
    I was looking for answers. I knew he was deprived of O2 at birth(blue as a blueberry) didn’t get him breathing for at least 5 maybe 7 minutes. Heart stopped once on the next day. One week in the nicu. I thought a lack of O2 hurt him, maybe extra O2 could fix him.(too simple for Ya?) I asked my boy’s doc about hyperbarics, he said “It won’t help”, “waste of money” I decided to do it anyway. Had to sign a waiver with the doc’s office just to get the script for the O2. I hope I answered your ? You big suck!
    Yes I believe there are good doctors, and they are all alties,
    Love phil

  29. #29 HCN
    July 16, 2006

    Well, you have certainly shown us the workings of the mind of a mark (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_%28victim%29 ).

  30. #30 anonimouse
    July 17, 2006

    Of course, it was the hyperbaric oxygen therapy that did the trick. Had nothing to do with the passage of time, because we all know kids with autism never get better unless they’re subjected to lupron or secretin or oxygen therapy.

    Speaking of which, I wonder how the Geiers feel about Phil’s success story. My guess is they’re trying to figure out how they can get a cut of the profits.

  31. #31 phil
    July 17, 2006

    to HCN,
    squeal little piggie, Come to the great and mighty Doc-o-rac’s alter. The god of science beckons you to come.
    Praises are welcomed, but slams on the non believers are met with praises. I’ll bet you party if the boy dies.
    You people are sick. You only believe in what you see and have no faith. I don’t know if hyperbarics did it or if it was a reward from GOD for a mustard seed of faith.
    You hate what you don’t understand. If you and the great doc were in charge from the beginning medicine would be nowhere. It is the people who take chances and try new things that benefit and yes! suffer. Doc-o-rac has probably not added a thing to medicine but he’s probably rich from it.
    By the way has he ever listed how many successful operations he’s performed where the patient died?
    You are just a suckling little piggie, aren’t you!?
    love phil

  32. #32 HCN
    July 17, 2006

    Generally speaking 3 years old is somewhat young for an autism diagnosis. Also, as a parent with a child that suffered neonatal seizures and has a severe speech disorder… I can tell you there is change with TIME (and lots of speech therapy).

    You really are not presenting yourself very well. You may accuse Orac of taking “getting rich”, but he is in academia and is taking the least paid route. Very much UNlike the guy who sold you a huge machine.

    I’m sorry, but you are a victim of a scam artist. You just don’t recognize it yet.

  33. #33 pat
    July 18, 2006

    Kitty and bardiac wrote I think the most reasonable and sensitive comments so far. In fact both make a damn good case for why parents’ rights should be considered final authority. I wonder how many more reasoned people are out there but choose to stay silent or “on the fence” until someone else decides in their stead.
    It is obviously terribly sad when one has to witness fools march off cliffs confident that gravity was nothing but a silly myth (I wish I could quote the blogger on this site who made this analogy first).
    Remember that we really only hear about a very few of these cases and of course the juiciest and weirdest or cruelest and-so-on…get the publicity. Sure we wish we could do something about this perceived “evil” and purge the perceived “evil-doers” in one fell swoop with legislation but think for a minute about all those less than publicized cases of people already in a tangle today with the existing social services (and keep in mind how many of these systems function merely as a “decorative” public policy). It would be glorious to claim: “Even if only ONE child is saved then the policy will have been worth it!” but it would be more revealing to ask: “How many children will have been ill-served by this rickety system? Therein lies the problem for me. If I had to choose which party was most likely to be acting in the child’s best interest (even if it is perceived to be delusional by myself), then I would have to bet on the parents. Social services throughout the world are not much more than the bureaucracies they are built on and only have EXPERIMENTAL “trial-as-you-go” solutions such as foster homes.

    I would also be weary of making statements like the one from Prup aka Jim Benton:

    “Hopefully, either of these steps would prevent the boy from taking this suicidal act. If it did not, then all I could say is that he should be considered a martyr to ignorance, and hope for their own peace of mind that the parents never realized how they had, in effect, killed their own child.”

    Do try to have some understanding for other people’s very particular and always unique situation. He clearly thinks himself the gamble not worth the effects of the treatment. He thinks it will kill him! That’s powerful stuff! How cruel to accuse the parents off killing him when no one in his experience offered him anything more than a mere reprieve.
    It is disingenuous to say that chemo would have been “his only chance to live”. It must be admitted that because everyone still poorly understands cancer and therefore by definition the therapies are EXPERIMENTAL and not “targeted” to treat cancer, it is impossible to confidently claim chemotherapy could have saved him. And for some others the obvious would seem to be: “rinse and repeat if necessary”, as if chemo was a body wash. The effects of chemotherapy on the body are of international fame! As an exercise try for a change to define: “to live”. Try to define it in a way that is emotionally relevant to each and every one of us. Some people seem to equate “to live” with surviving one year longer no matter what the costs. Others may choose to make peace with their fate and live a comfortable and perhaps also shortened life instead. These are subtle but emotionally huge decisions that some parents may not be capable or willing to make but don’t go off thinking bureaucracies are naturally the more well meaning and capable thinkers. Only in the cases of INTENTIONAL harm by parents should the law step in. Laws are merely components in a system that is not known for its inherent “justice” but rather for its inherent “functionality”. So be careful what you wish for lest you yourself get caught up in a bureaucratic “function” one day. The road to hell is paved with (patronizingly) good intentions. Those words of advice are good no matter where one stands.

  34. #34 HCN
    July 18, 2006

    pat said: “Sure we wish we could do something about this perceived “evil” and purge the perceived “evil-doers” in one fell swoop with legislation but think for a minute about all those less than publicized cases of people already in a tangle today with the existing social services (and keep in mind how many of these systems function merely as a “decorative” public policy).”

    Unfortunately the clinic is in Mexico… American legislation stops at the border.

    BUT later he/she says “Only in the cases of INTENTIONAL harm by parents should the law step in.”

    Actually no one is accusing the parents of intentional harm. But what do you do about the lies perpetuated by the clinic in Mexico? The parents (and child) have been fed false hope by a clinic who may only be after their money. Take into evidence the nasty comments places on this bloc from someone in Tijuana.

    Again… Does ANYone have actual verfiable evidence of how well the Hoxsey treatment works?

  35. #35 Lucas McCarty
    July 18, 2006

    There isn’t ANY evidence for ANY treatment working; control groups are always skewered when quack researchers can even be bothered to use them and an extremely high number of Autistic children become adults functioning at an adult level.

    The success of quack treatments has always relied on them spreading the myth that nearly all Autistic adults are ‘train wrecks’ in institutionalised care because the most central fact that defeats them is that most improve anyway indepedent of invasive treatment.

  36. #36 anjou
    July 18, 2006

    From ACS page on the Hoxsey treatment
    What is the evidence?

    There is no evidence that the Hoxsey herbal treatment has any value in the treatment of cancer in humans. In 1946, the National Cancer Institute reviewed 77 case reports of Hoxsey’s patients and concluded that none of them met the criteria for scientific evaluation.

    Only 2 human studies of the Hoxsey herbal treatment have been published. One was published in a pamphlet provided by the Tijuana clinic and simply contains a description of 9 patients who received the treatment. It concluded that the treatment is effective, even though most of the Hoxsey-treated patients received standard cancer treatment in addition to the Hoxsey treatment. The other study published in the Journal of Naturopathic Medicine involved 39 people with various types of cancer who took the Hoxsey herbal treatment. Ten patients died after an average of 15 months and 23 never completed the study. Only 6 patients were disease-free after 48 months.

    The National Advisory Cancer Council studied many of Hoxsey’s patient records and learned that most of the patients had never had biopsies, so that there was no confirmation that they actually had cancer. The National Cancer Institute investigated 400 patients who were reported as cured by Hoxsey. Patients or their families were interviewed, and all records were carefully reviewed. These patients fell into 3 groups: those who had been treated, but didn’t actually have cancer; those who had received successful conventional cancer treatment before seeing Hoxsey; and those who had cancer and had died of it, or were still alive with evidence of cancer. Out of the 400 cases, not one case of a Hoxsey cure could be documented.

    To collect some reliable information, a carefully controlled study of the Hoxsey tonic was performed on rats with tumors. There was no effect in tumor size and growth between the treated and untreated mice. The main ingredient in the tonic, potassium iodide, had been tested already and found to be useless in cancer treatment. However, in some other animal studies, a few of the individual herbs contained in the treatment showed some anti-cancer activity. Even though animal studies may show promise, further studies are needed to find out if the results apply to humans.

  37. #37 pat
    July 18, 2006

    Well, unless one can prove INTENTIONAL harm one has better stay away from them. It’s unfortunate perhaps but stupidity is not forbidden by law in the world I know and I am strangely thankful for that one because stupidity is more often than not “anchored” in law. Remember: eventhough we might on a personal level be imbued with notions of “justice”, the law lends nothing more than “functionality” to a wider social experiment. Be furious and fume if you must but please resist wanting yet another law that the system (in this case the U.S. *GASP!) will be ill-equiped to deal with in any humanely relevant way.

  38. #38 Kristjan Wager
    July 18, 2006

    Actually, I am fairly sure that it is normal for states to step in in cases of unintentional harm (e.g. neglect) as well.

  39. #39 HCN
    July 18, 2006

    Laws do exist and HAVE been used to protect children from UNintentional harm.

    Recently in our state a woman lost custody of her son because she wanted to explore “alternative medicine” to deal with his kidney failure. The state took custody early in June. On the eve of his surgery to put in the catheter for dialysis the mother kidnapped him from the hospital. The child was recovered, received the surgery and sent to live at his father’s home (the parents are not married to each other):

  40. #40 phil
    July 18, 2006

    to HCN
    I was being ugly just like you were and just like many of those on this wonderful site. I’m sorry to hear about your son. May God Almighty bless him with healing. Incredible healing. May he bless your son with all that I have prayed for my own.
    No one! NO ONE! told me hyperbarics would heal my son. No one tried to sell me anything. The first 275 treatments he received were a gift from his God-Parents. I am the mad man that went out in search of it. The info I received from the people I sought out were mentioning poisons that would bind with the mercury. I believed that is not what happened to my son. (blue as a blueberry). I believed he had damage from a lack of O2.
    He scored 6months to 14months on the test the school performed, and nothing at all on one test. This was approx 2yrs of age.
    I was destroyed! The answers I got from the ped, Wait! Wait! Wait! OT! SPEACH THERAPY! ETC
    MOST of these children don’t get better, do they!?
    So superdad! I’m a mark, and my son is an awesome little guy. I’m an idiot with a son who makes “A”‘s
    and two “B”‘s and is going into the 4th grade. I’m am a fool.
    I tossed a load on superdoc’s door because he’s someone who doesn’t understand life.
    NOW time for the neurodocs to answer up. Why don’t we try hyperbarics first here in the U.S. on MS patients before we use the poisons?
    Answer!!!! money MONEY and MONEY. Pharms don’t get any. Docs got big housesand bmw’s to pay for.
    Docs would lose half there patients. And like HCN would attest to, there are lots and lots of marks to kill.
    But! let’s bleed them first.
    If any of them say it doesn’t work you are dealing with a liar! They might say it doesn’t work on everyone but it works on so so many that it doesn’t make sense to not try it first, (It makes dollars and lots of em!).
    Bring in your studies of the failed test. I’ll bet they didn’t use the successful protocol used in the UK.
    Over 10,000 people over a period of 15 years, but it didn’t work every time, but neither does the poisons. Where are the real DOCTORS who want to help sick people?
    3 types of lies….little white lies, Big fat ones, and statistics!!!!!!
    Love Phil
    P.S. ever watch the cartoon ICEAGE, Remember the scene with the Dodos, “Doom on you!”, “Doom on you”….
    …..listen closely and you can hear them here.

  41. #41 Ted H Spence
    July 18, 2006

    I believe that natural cure’s work because they are natural … compared to chemical drugs… and Hoxsey is a natural herbal tonic. The ACS says it is untested, but it has been used for 60 years with amazing success. All the Hoxsey clinics were closed in 1961 .. the personnel arrested and the cancer patients left to die or go to Mexico … which they did ….
    Go for it Abraham … God Bless!
    Ted H Spence

  42. #42 pat
    July 18, 2006

    Knowing that iatrogenic medicine is the only legally recognized medicine and knowing that iatrogenict death is the leading cause of death in the US, the idea of letting the law decide what is best for mine or my kids’ health shivers me timbers! But then I don’t live there (huge sigh of relief)

  43. #43 Orac
    July 18, 2006

    The ACS says it is untested, but it has been used for 60 years with amazing success.

    So show us the evidence. I see lots of claims, but not even intriguing anecdotal evidence to suggest that it might work. I’m tired of argument by assertion. Try argument by evidence for a change.

    You know what we in conventional medicine call alternative medicine that’s been shown to work scientifically in clinical trials, Phil?


    We’re more than happy to add it to our armamentarium, but you have to show us the evidence that it works. And don’t tell me there aren’t any resources. Over $120 million a year is spent to fund the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine at the NIH, and not a single alternative therapy has been definitively shown to be effective, and the negative trials that failed to find a therapeutic effect are brushed off, leading to more money being spent to study the same old quackery.

  44. #44 HCN
    July 18, 2006

    Pat said ” knowing that iatrogenict death is the leading cause of death in the US”…

    Where did you get this bizarre statistic?

    Because in reality death stats in the USA are summarized as “Heart failure and Malignant neoplasms cause over half of all deaths of people over 45. Accidents and adverse effects resulting from the accidents is the leading cause of death for people under 45 to 1 year of age. Of all the causes of death due to accidents, the leading cause is motor vehicle accidents. Motor vehicle accidents remain a high risk for all age groups.”

    The numbers are listed by age group here:

    If you want to keep your child safe: Keep him or her away from all motor vehicles.

  45. #45 pat
    July 19, 2006

    “Where did you get this bizarre statistic?”


    or here:
    (quickly copied and pasted from another post)
    or wherever the cherries may be…

    The cdc is unlikely to want to assimilate itself with “the” or “a” leading cause of death. Who would? The accountability would be unbearable.
    I have to make a slight correction. I can’t be sure it is THE leading cause of death; the stats differ quite a bit obviously, but i think it is safe to say that iatrogenic death makes the all-star team. I couldn’t find any stats on death rates due to medical error on the link you gave me, HCN. perhaps i missed it.

  46. #46 pat
    July 19, 2006

    ok the second link doesn’t work, I think the “L” in htm “L” is missing at the end. find another one, any one, and start crunching the numbers.

  47. #47 HCN
    July 19, 2006

    Sorry… you’ll need to do better.

    The first link only has links to a Yahoo Group, not any real studies. If it was “The American Iatrogenic Group” were a real research group, it would have a journal, or at least something that was published in a peer reviewed journal that was indexed at http://www.pubmed.gov (and the word “iatrogenic” brings up almost 20,000 cites, though none claim it is a leading killer in the USA). The second one looks like a news article (and a biased one at that).

    The one I linked to I got from a government statistics site that linked to it because it condensed their information in an easy to read format. It was a site like this:

    You may note that one statistic that is easy to see is that average age at death is 77.5 years.

    I tried the search phrase “death statistic” at http://www.nih.gov and got over 5600 hits. They were usually specific things like cancer, diabetes, and other diseases. I tried to narrow it down with “motor” and then “vehicle”, but it was still over 500 hits.

    Going back to actual verifiable death statistics (from the “disastercenter” website, which is actually kind of a cool, but depressing, site to wander around)… you’ll see that for children accidents are a major killer, especially motor vehicle accidents. So you ‘might’ be right to claim “iatrogenic” if the child not in a car seat was ejected from the vehicle through the windshield died because the folks in the emergency department could not repair his/her crushed skull… and the child died because the centers of the brain that controlled certain life functions like breathing and heart function failed. OR… for the child left unattended in the bathtub (for tiny kids drowning is a big killer) the folks in the emergency department could not restore lost function due to lack of oxygen.

    Here’s an idea… poke around http://www.pubmed.gov, http://www.nih.gov, http://www.cdc.gov or your local medical school’s library and come up with some good verifiable evidence to support your claim that “iatrogenic” problems are the leading cause of death in the USA. Or at least figure out where that Yahoo group and journalist got their information!

  48. #48 pat
    July 19, 2006

    As I said you can pick and choose and decide for yourself. Yes the article is biased. It is one end of an extreme. I tried to add a token one. You searched “iatrogenic” and “death statistics” specifically it seems. When I google “iatrogenic death” I get 453,000 hits. Good luck.

    You said:
    “So you ‘might’ be right to claim “iatrogenic” if the child not in a car seat was ejected from the vehicle through the windshield died because the folks in the emergency department could not repair his/her crushed skull… and the child died because the centers of the brain that controlled certain life functions like breathing and heart function failed. OR… for the child left unattended in the bathtub (for tiny kids drowning is a big killer) the folks in the emergency department could not restore lost function due to lack of oxygen”.

    I’m sorry. I fail to follow. These examples are not examples of “iatrogenic deaths”.

    searched “iatrogenic deaths” at the CDC. Got a zillion hits but the titles to the documents suggest nothing about iatrogenic death so far. Maybe they’re hidding it 😉
    I will try again tomorrow.

  49. #49 phi
    July 19, 2006

    brain fired today while at work!!!!
    DOCTOR IGNATIO (sp) (the DOCTOR from South America)
    Humble, nice and likes(loves)people.
    got slammed by a doc one day on the web, loved his answer.
    doc said he didn’t know jack. His answer I believe? was he
    wrote the hyperbaric curiculum at the University of Miami.
    Should double check before I post it here but no time.
    Sorry if I got it wrong.
    Question for the docs who kill off stroke patients.
    consider the source!!!!
    Why don’t we treat stroke patients in a chamber?
    Answer! Money Money and Money.
    The docs won’t make as much money. the Pharms won’t make
    as much money. just doesn’t make sense.
    But it sure makes a lot of DOLLARS!!!!!!!
    Of course some won’t be saved, but the poisons don’t save them all either.
    Check out DOCTOR IGNATIO’s(sp) work. You never know, Someone
    you truly care about might stroke out and a little bit of
    knowledge might help out.
    Love phi

  50. #50 deronde
    July 21, 2006

    The holistic diet he is pursuing can’t hurt him, and it might even help him with the weakness and such.. studies have shown organic is better.. but proven medical treatments would definitely be the way to go. I support the state’s decision to act in the best interests in the child, but I don’t think they should tear his family apart.

    But hey, he’s living up to his name.. Starchild is now a Star 😉

  51. #51 Forrest
    July 21, 2006

    Ladies and gents…

    I am a scientist and this boy’s uncle. Among the other things I have read here are fair amounts of unsubstantiated character attacks on Abraham, Jay and Rose.

    Those of you doing that should feel ashamed and probably need to spend some time in self-reflection.

    I’d be the first to agree that eccentric is probably a good label for them, but they are not evil, and far from stupid. I am also of the camp that subscribes to treatments with proven efficacy. But I am also a widower who buried a wife who did conventional and alternative therapy for stage 4 colon cancer.

    Abraham is 16 and he will die. I’d prefer it if he were 80 when it happened, but it may happen this year or next. If he asked my advice, I’d recommend chemo.

    However, I was not asked and for the record, neither were any of you pompous bastards.

    You may not like it, but the same government that can’t even fix the potholes in Virginia’s highways has no business making medical decisions for anyone. It may be Darwinian, but it’s none of your damn business, so debate all you want, bue please let me join in when your wife or hubby or child is sick and command you do my bidding. Better yet, let’s get some nameless hack of a bureaucrat to decide if it’s going to be chemo or radiation for your cute little baby.


  52. #52 anjou
    July 22, 2006

    Hi Forest–
    Id like to invite you to the bulletin board at http://www.lymphoma.com for hodgkins Please see that there are a number of kids who have gone thru SCT and done well– in one recent post- a woman in her twenties had a baby, several after a transplant for relapsed hodgkins. Im sorry about your wife– cancer sucks– but with blood cancers treatments can often be more effective than with most of the solid tumors like Colon cancer. There is not one who has survived using alternative treatments.. The posts are from the past few weeks so they should be easy to find.

    Im a lymphoma survivor myself.. the woman who was my email support buddy through both our treatments relapsed and went thru high dose chemo and transplant.. she’s done well, and a few years out, her oncologist cleared her to adopt a baby!! The baby is now a toddler. My friend kayaks, hikes, and is delighted to be alive.

    I hope Abraham does well with conventional treatment, and does as well as my friend. . its not an easy course of treatment. but…let me tell you– I am so glad my friend went thru it– SHE”S STILL ALIVE FIVE YEARS LATER!

    Jul 21, 2006

    NORFOLK, Va. (AP) — A Virginia judge has ruled that a 16-year-old cancer patient fighting to use alternative treatment must report to a hospital by Tuesday and accept treatment that doctors feel is necessary.

    The patient, Starchild Abraham Cherrix, has Hodgkin’s disease, a cancer of the lymph nodes. The family’s attorney says the judge also found the parents neglectful for allowing him to pursue alternative treatment of a sugar-free, organic diet and herbal supplements in Mexico. The lawyer says the parents are devastated by the new order and plan to appeal.

    After chemotherapy last year made him nauseated and weak, the teen rejected doctors’ recommendations to go through a second round when he learned early this year that his cancer was active again. A social worker then asked a judge to require the teen to continue conventional treatment.

    (Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

    AP-NY-07-21-06 1921EDT


  53. #53 anjou
    July 22, 2006
  54. #54 pat
    July 22, 2006

    So now he’ s forced something he DOESN’T WANT. Brave new world. Can the state be sued for if he dies?

  55. #55 anjou
    July 22, 2006

    I do not envy the judge in this case…he was put in such a difficult spot– give the kid freedom and perhaps feel responsible for his certain death.. or insist on an unpleasant treatment that has decent odds for cure without guarantees…I would not have liked to have to have been responsible for making this decision.

    That said, I do know many folks with aggressive lymphomas who have done very well post transplant, even with allo tranplants which are even more unpleasant than the auto transplant recommended in this situation. Having watched lymphoma support boards for years– have seen most of the kids with relapsed hodgkins do well with transplants and “salvage” treatments, altho sadly, there are the ones who dont make it.

  56. #56 medrecgal
    July 22, 2006

    Orac, Yahoo news has posted an update to this story…a judge has ruled that this child MUST undergo traditional, allopathic treatment for his cancer. Just type in the boy’s name and it will come up with several articles from news organizations around the country, including the likes of CNN.

  57. #57 phil
    July 22, 2006

    It’s party time!!!!!!!
    Doc-o-rac and his minion win.
    tie the boy down and pump in the poison.
    oh wait a second, the docs can just sedate him and then poison him.
    YIPPIE. docs know best so lets forget about freedom and put them in charge of everything! Make Bill Frist King!!!
    Make doc-o-rac president and the cabinet should be from all
    the heads of the medical universities in the nation.
    All the senators must be tenured MD’s
    the congress need only an MD.
    doc-o-rac says he’s libertarian, look it up doc, you are no libertarian. Just for the record neither am i.

    I know what you really want is for people to see that a 50% solution is better than nothing(ie hoxsey).
    How come this isn’t the case when it comes to MS.
    If you are going to argue that the data doesn’t support it.
    hyperbarics isn’t even 50%, then find a study performed by
    your cronies that replicates the protocols used in the treatments used by Doctor Philip James in the UK.
    I believe it is 2.0 ata, 100% O2, 1hr, 40 treatments (maybe only 20) EVERYDAY FOR 40 OR 20 DAYS, (no weekend breaks). Then only once per week. MAGIC!!!!!!!!
    If i am wrong i apalogize. Its been several years since i was interested. My sister-in-law is in the hospital with an infected port(whatever that thing is in her chest to put the meds in with) She can’t even sit up straight to eat anymore. Yeah you docs are great! Don’t go near those
    altie treatments. Let people rot away when your magic pills don’t work.

    Hope i didn’t put to much of a damper on your victory party. Party on oh great ones!!!
    Love Phil

  58. #58 Mary
    July 22, 2006

    I have a 22 year old healthy son. At 16, he lost one of his best friends to Hodgkins disease. The last two months of this boy’s life were spent in incredible pain from the effects of the radiation and with a wasted digestive system and liver from the chemo. I asked my son whether after watching Adam go through his first round of treatment and have it be a completely hellish experience, he would have chosen to have a second treatment or not. Even after experiencing the pain of losing Adam, my son looked me straight in the eye and said “How can any court or any person force this kind of treatment on ANYone?” It would have broken my heart to lose my son at 16 but if he looked me straight in the eye and said “I’m done with the slash and burn route”, I would have let him choose his own path.

    It’s cruel to force this 16 year old young man back into chemo and radiation. Godspeed Abraham.

  59. #59 Orac
    July 22, 2006


    It’s a load of bullshit to claim that I (or any other advocate of evidence-based medicine) am “partying” over this decision. If you wish to see my thoughts on the decision, please check out my latest post on the case, which shows in essence reluctant and not particularly enthusiastic support of the judge’s decision.

    In actuality, I expect a huge spike in anti-government and pro-alternative medicine tirades after this ruling. If a particularly egregious one appears, I may comment further.

  60. #60 phil
    July 23, 2006

    my point is simple.
    you claim evidence based medicine?
    who’s evidence?
    the pharms’?
    the med schools?
    wake up doc!!!
    You are so so right to expect a spike but as HCN would say there are a lot of “marks” out here in lala land.
    We are asleep out here. Money rules and we drool.
    The pharms and you docs seem to be real quick to say only your magic works some of the time. A whole lot of it looks like quackery on both sides to me. My boy will be 9 next sunday and before I knew he was ill you guys were my heros. When you all weren’t any help and I was looking for answers a whole lot of questions came up about just how much you people really know. There are people out here looking for answers to questions that you either don’t have the answer to or your answer is just not acceptable. When you(and your cronies) make fun of people for not choosing your way, In my opinion, you should get the biggest helpin’ of bullshit heaved at you that a man can throw. I truly think you are probably a great doc. You have got to wake up. You are surrounded by people in your industry with an adgenda that does not put the patient’s needs first. So I’m sorry for being such an ass.
    The OBdoc who hurt my son did it for money. Her vacation was due. She estimated him 38.5 weeks, Frank breech time for an external version. (I didn’t know what an external version was until they started pushing my boy around.)
    After several minutes his heart rate went from 140(I believe) to 40. The OBdoc said “He is not liking this” we’ll stop for now or something very close. I lost it and was told I would have to calm down or leave. 10 or so minutes later after being assured he was ok I lost it again and asked them what the hell was their exit strategy.
    Obdoc said she would admit my wife for observations. I explained (as sweetly as you can probably imagine) I was not worried about my wife it was my son she had hurt. She assured me with a pulse of 45 he was ok. She said at this point my wife and I could opt for a c-section. I was sure my boy needed help and thought that was the right move.
    Obdoc brought him out(blue as a blueberry) took em atleast 5 minutes to get him breathing(i had really bad thoughts right then) May God have mercy on my soul. After 10 to 20 minutes he looked real good just breathing was real labored. They took him out and I went too. The nurse doing the APGAR (sp) showed me his feet and said he was less than 35wks. Said a baby starts getting wrinkles on their feet at 35 wks. She wrote it down on the sheet.
    That sheet disappeared and she couldn’t remember two years later. In its place is an apgar sheet that says 37wks, just like the estimate he received from nicu where he was transfered. The OBdoc wrote we arrived at the hospital with contractions and she observed the child being Frank Breech. Eternal version was indicated. “Trust me I’m a doctor”
    You got the rest of the story if you have been following along.
    I’m a nobody. I love my family and was looking for an answer because the one I got really sucked. I didn’t trust doctors anymore nor will I ever.
    The only part of your world(medicine) I know anything at all about is hyperbarics. Maybe everything else is on the up and up. It sure looks corrupt to me. It appears as though the test to see if hyperbarics works on MS patients was designed to fail. Maybe you docs are listening to Doctors James and Neubauer and Ignatio(sp). I read stuff they wrote that made me believe it would promote brain healing and growth. Medicine works in the proper dosage so change the dosage and achieve whatever results you want.
    I truly believe established medicine is about MONEY not people. Sorry again if I am just too big of an Ass.
    I’ll still read your stuff doc.
    I’ll just let you high powered thinkers do the writin’ from here out.
    been great talkin at you. hope the feelins aint real bad.
    Its late and the wife ain’t gonna put up with much more of me and this computer. Got one swig of wine left and its a toast to you big daddy. Cure the world!!!

    Love Phil
    P.S. Those guys at the nicu are still my heros. If you have never been in an nicu you gotta see what those people do. GOD bless you and thank you for my boy to any of you nicu people reading here.

  61. #61 Aquinnah O'Keefe
    July 23, 2006

    I have just one question, who put it into the minds of the people, in the first place, that giving a person laboratory made chemicals and unnatural exposure to radiation is the right thing?

    I fail to see any logic whatsoever in the medical system. This nation is controlled simply by the need to have power and money. The reason that the medical industry is so hot under the collar about things like the Hoxsey method is because they see their power and money slipping away. There is no desire to actually help ailing people but to simply keep the money flowing by getting them to believe the lie that their “proven” methods are the right methods.

    The natural methods that are being used at the Hoxsey clinic have been witnessed and given due credit but, as human’s do, the medical industry has closed it’s eyes and stopped its ears so that it will not lose it’s grip on society.

    “…In 1954, an independent team of ten physicians from around the United States made a two-day inspection of Hoxsey’s Dallas clinic and issued a remarkable statement. After examining hundreds of case histories and interviewing patients and ax-patients, the doctors released a signed report declaring that the clinic. . . is successfully treating pathologically proven cases of cancer, both internal and external, without the use of surgery, radium or x-ray.”


  62. #62 Orac
    July 23, 2006

    Actually, Aquinnah, this is far closer to the truth:

    What do alternative methods really do? — The inside story (Note that the Biomedical Center in Tijuana, the “clinic” where Abraham wants to go, is specifically addressed. Its results are pretty dismal.)

    Hat tip to misc.health.alternative regular Peter Moran, who kindly left this data in the comments of another post.

    We can argue about whether Abraham is old enough to make this decision or where parental rights end and the obligation of the state to protect a minor from harm because of parental mistakes or neglect, but make no mistake about the medical issues: The Hoxsey therapy is quackery, with no good data to support its use in Hodgkin’s disease.

  63. #63 Aquinnah O'Keefe
    July 23, 2006

    Sir, what I am speaking to is the absolutely diabolical way in which the medical industry functions. Cancer has become a commodity. It is the source of extorted income for a great many people.

    My point is, the medical society is a corporation seeking to squeeze all it can from it’s victims, not intending at any time to actually heal them.

    “…written into the charter of the American Cancer Society is the clause that states that if a cure for cancer is ever found, on that day, the Society will disband. (The Cancer Industry) So think about it – is this an organization that is going to be motivated to find a cure for cancer?”

    “In their latest mood swing, recently the medical consensus, whatever that means, is moving back toward more radical mastectomy again. In an article from the New York Times, 14 Jan 99, a new Mayo Clinic study being published in the New England Journal of Medicine, is backtracking to a former position. Bilateral radical mastectomy of healthy breasts supposedly “reduces the risk of getting breast cancer” by 90%! I am not making this up. Obviously, if a woman doesn’t have breasts, how can she get breast cancer? This type of insanity – a recommendation to remove healthy breasts with the idea to prevent a disease a woman doesn’t have – makes you wonder what’s next. Why not euthanasia? – that way the patient will have a zero percent chance of ever getting any disease again.”


    Death is inevitable. Everyone will die sooner or later.

    I have taken care of two cancer patients. One followed traditional methods of pain relief i.e. Morphine. The other followed the “alternative methods” that seem to be such a great menace to the Medical Industry. The man that followed the “alternative methods” was virtually pain free until death. The woman who took traditional drugs was in excruciating pain till her last breath, even with huge amounts of Morphine.

    Tell me, which would you prefer, should you find yourself standing in their shoes?

  64. #64 Orac
    July 23, 2006

    May I assume by your not addressing my comments with regard to the Hoxsey therapy that you agree with me when I say that it is quackery? Certainly nothing you’ve said has been an argument otherwise.

    In addition, your comments on breast cancer reveal that you clearly don’t know what you’re talking about. I may address them in more detail in a blog post. Just a brief take: Prophylactic bilateral mastectomy is only offered as an option to women who are at extremely elevated risk of developing breast cancer at a young age, such as women who carry genetic mutations that result in close to a 100% chance of breast cancer developing. This is a pretty small subset of women.

  65. #65 sh*tdisturber
    July 24, 2006

    Aquinnah- do you drive a car? Do you use a microwave? Do you use a computer or a telephone? Do you have electricity? Hmmm… a calculator, a television, a bike, a wheelbarrow, a dishwasher, a saink, a toilet, linoleum, windows……….Use plastic?

    My point being, you use technology. They involve a lot of “unnatural” things- chemicals, physics and a whole lot of other science harnessed in order to make our lives easier, more productive and yada yada yada.

    Why is it, then, that whenever technology is used in these siutations it is seen as benign or useful or good, but medical technology is seen as evil? By that logic, you ought to live in a cave, with light from a fire or a handmade tallow candle, using animals or people to bear loads and to travel on.

    Think about it, please.

    Technology, medical or otherwise, is not evil. It is what we do. To go on. Just because the outcomes are not always perfect does not mean it is inherently awful. Natural cures need PROOF – in the form of experiments and evidence( another form of technology) in order to be taken seriously.

    I just do not get this attitude when people pick the technology that suits them and discredit the rest.

  66. #66 James
    July 24, 2006

    There’s a line from Terry Pratchett that goes like that. One character says to another that they don’t apporve of something because “I don’t like unnatural things”. The other retorted “so you eat your meat raw and sleep in a tree?”

    Smallpox is natural, famine is natural, the Boxing Day tsunami was natural, Hodgkin’s disease, for that matter, is natural. Nature is overrated.

  67. #67 Aquinnah O'Keefe
    July 24, 2006

    I care not to argue with any of you. Every man will stand where he stands and I have nothing in me to try to convince any of you to believe what I have been shown to be true.

    Orac, What I know about the Hoxsey method, I have only learned through reading or watching information about it. I have never been to the clinic personally and I have not known anyone who has been treated with this method. What I do know is “alternative medicine” WORKS. I have used it myself and watched other’s use it with impressive results. The reason that these methods work is simply because our bodies were designed to heal themselves. Often what people call “disease” is merely a symptom of some other ailment inside their body. What I have seen of the Hoxsey method I can agree with quite readily. Herbs work.

    One can only ingest small amounts of poison for so long before it starts to show up in their body and create havoc. The media and other information sources have effectively convinced the masses that food and health have nothing to do with each other. HELLO!!!! WAKE UP!!!! Poison is slipped into the food of the populace on a daily basis, things which intelligent, caring people would never feed their friends. Why are we dying of strange diseases unheard of twenty years ago? There are ingredients put into food now to create the need to buy the drugs pouring the money into the pockets of the “health industry”.

    Disturber, you said, “Just because the outcomes are not always perfect does not mean it is inherently awful.” This I can turn right back around to you. Herbs have become guilty until proven innocent while the traditional medicine that is killing people daily is smoothed over with promises of safety and allowed to run rampant. It is like indicting a person for looking at a child while turning your head so that the sex offender next door can molest the neighborhood children.

    I have found that people are steeped in fear. If their “health professional” doesn’t approve of it then it must be poison. My point being, do you think that their doctor is going to give his approval to the very thing that he himself has been taught to fear and the very thing that will take away his income?

    You needn’t try to tell me these things are not so. That would be as insane as telling me the moon is made of green cheese. Then again, I do not tend to look at things as modern man does.


  68. #68 Orac
    July 24, 2006

    You needn’t try to tell me these things are not so. That would be as insane as telling me the moon is made of green cheese. Then again, I do not tend to look at things as modern man does.

    That much is obvious. You clearly don’t understand evidence-based meedicine versus testimonial-based medicine.

  69. #69 Wayne Bent
    July 24, 2006

    From my perspective, most of the posts here miss the point. The point is that the United States of America boasts itself for being a “free” country. Americans boast of freedoms, and those who are now launching their war in the Middle East boast that they are bringing freedom to the Middle East. Now tell me, is it freedom that forces a person to get treatment for something that he does not want treatment for? Should not one have freedom over his own body? Is not that the excuse given for a women’s right to an abortion? Do I have freedom to seek what I believe are God given healing methods only when the courts tell me I can? Is that better than Nazi Germany or the old Soviet Russia who also gave their citizens the right to do whatever they wanted only if the court said so? In a free country one can use popcorn to treat his own illness if that is what he wants to do. In a socialist state, or a fascist state, one cannot practice his God given freedom, but must bow to the dictator. So, the whole issue has only to do with whether this is a free country or not. It is not. Now that we know that America is a dictatorship, we can know that its citizens can be forced to take cow dung for their treatment if the court says so. And if the court declares that tomato juice is illegal, and one uses it anyway, thereby finding himself in prison where he is is raped and abused, then one can know that this is par for the course in a dictatorship. Welcome to the real America.

  70. #70 sh*tdisturber
    July 24, 2006

    Okay- so here we go….

    Should the state intervene when a parent is causing physical harm to a child?

    If they beat the child?

    If they burn the child with cigarettes?

    If they lock the child in a room or cage and do not allow them out?

    If they are causing imminent harm to a child?

    Why is it different here? There is imminent harm involved- yes or no??

    The child will end up dead if Hoxsey is the only intervention.

    Plain and simple.

    Dead means gone forever.

    There is a chance that with timely chemo and radiation that he will beat this. Sports is replete with Lance Armstrong’s and Mario Lemiex’s, who took the medical route with their cancers and ended up beating their cancers and going on to become or continue being outstanding athletes. Their experiences were as equally horrific as anyone else who did the treatments, but they went through everything and then with will and forethought they planned and acted in order to bring their bodies back to a place of excellence. Chemo and radiation are not pleasant. THey completely suck. But in the cases where they work, they are much better than doing nothing, or something with no proven efficacy.

    This I can turn right back around to you. Herbs have become guilty until proven innocent while the traditional medicine that is killing people daily is smoothed over with promises of safety and allowed to run rampant**************************************

    Hmm- had any foxglove lately? Pure unadulterated foxglove?? I would not be here without the daily use of digoxin when I was a child. Guess what? Digoxin is derived from your beloved foxglove. The thing is, when I took it in digoxin’s form, I knew every day that I was taking the right dose. If I just grew a foxglove plant and boiled and brewed, my ass would have been grass. Dead. That would have sucked. My parents chose to use conventional medicine because the alternative could have killed me. Don’t you EVER imagine that I do not know the value of herbs and plants personally- I just like them at the prescribed regular dosage. Some SCIENTIST just did all the tests to PROVE that this would work. Unlike your Hoxsey treatment.

    You people who think that Orac is a bad person and is dancing because this has happened with this family- give your heads a shake and think. No-one- medical doctor or person on the street wants these situations. Ever. No-one wants to hear about the JW’s that will not give permission to give their child blood, or the religious people who refuse medical treatment because prayer will work, or the granola eaters that refuse to immunize their kids because THEY don’t believe in it- putting everyone else at risk. When we do hear about it we wonder why and how people become so out of touch with what is happening in the world. These people use technology in their everyday lives, oblivious to the dangers inherent in it— think car crashes—– but reject medicine done by trained physicians because it is somehow a repudiation of what is natural and good. Even though much of it is built on biology and chemistry- which are natural to our earth. Conotoxin from snails for pain, botox (botulim toxin) for pain, and lithium (salts) come to mind as examples of medicines that come from natural sources.

    Free does not mean without responsibility. If that was the case, people would be free to shoot each other with Uzi’s on the street, and gang violence in major cities would be allowed. Free and responsible are synergistic. They need to go together.

    I would like to know how people that charge an arm and a leg and a chicken to do things natures way actually gain respectability with alties? I really do not get it. The alternative doctors I know of here charge hundreds to thousands of dollars for things with no proof, and people actually buy what they are selling. Granted, they actually do spend time with their clients, but they charge an awful lot for that added service. It makes NO sense. This FEELING of being understood somehow overrides the proof that a treatment will work.

    Explain that, because it is completely foreign to me.

    There is one study that does look into how kids and parents look differently at CAM interventions . One quote from here is :When parent and child perceptions were compared, parents expected hypnosis, acupuncture and yoga, to be more beneficial than did children, whereas children expected surgery to be more helpful than did parents (P < 0.01). http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1297505

    Please read this because it has a lot to say about how parents intervene because THEY do not like what the treatments do to their kids. In a nutshell. Parents are freaked by the effects medicine has on their ill children. So they panic and try to alleviate this with ‘nicer’ treatment. Not effective treatment, but more palatable to their emotional response. That is a copout. If parents cannot be adults about this stuff, then it makes sense that they are going to take an easier way out. But sometimes, in the case of imminent death, it is cruel to be kind.

    Well, that is my post for now. Know that as I read these comments, full of vitriol towards orac and the medical community, I shake my head and hope that my kids never marry your children and have kids with them, because I would fight you tooth and nail to do what needs to be done. In the real world.

  71. #71 CybillSheridan
    July 26, 2006

    “Until you walk in someone else’s shoes…”


  72. #72 cancer mom
    July 27, 2006

    I have to go with Forrest here, why do you all think you are qualified to make this decision for Abraham. The first lesson I learned when my 3-yr old daughter was diagnosed with cancer was: NEVER assume you know what decisions you would make in this situation. It is a horrific experience and you can never walk away anywhere near the same person that you were. And, my daughter WAS cured by conventional medicine (chemo & radiation). This situation happens more times than you would think and I think the only reason it has gotten this much press is that he chose alternative “medicine”. His odds are bad either way, let him choose his poison. Death is not a subject our society wants to discuss and I would venture to say Abraham knows as much about death as any of us. So, why does everyone think they need to remind him of that possible outcome?

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