Respectful Insolence

End of year update on Abraham Cherrix

It’s been a while since I’ve heard anything about Abraham Cherrix, the teen who rejected conventional chemotherapy for Hodgkins’ lymphoma in favor of the quackery known as Hoxsey therapy. Ultimately, there was a legal battle resulting in a compromise that allowed Cherrix to pursue “alternative” therapy at a clinic in Mississippi run by a radiation oncologist who, in addition to providing radiation, also provides a variety of “alternative” therapies. When last we left Abraham Cherrix, after multiple recurrences on low dose radiation plus an unproven “immunotherapy,” he had no evaluable disease (NED). Unfortunately, he is very unlikely to have been cured, for reasons discussed by both me and The Cheerful Oncologist.

At year’s end, though, according to a news report in The Virginian-Pilot, he remains in remission and is apparently doing well. Despite my copious blogging on the case, I was hoping he’d beat the odds. After all, if I didn’t care whether he lived or died, I wouldn’t have been so dismayed at his choice of outright quackery first and then dubious immunotherapy second. I hate seeing cancer cut down youth in its prime, particularly when the death is potentially avoidable. Fortunately, Abraham did choose radiation, which is excellent palliation, although highly unlikely to be a cure. I was also far more upset how his case was used to pass “Abraham’s Law,” which was in essence a license for parents to use whatever quackery they want on children with life-threatening diseases. In the State of Virginia, at least, Abraham’s battle has the potential to have harmed many other children.

As for Abraham’s ultimate outlook, he’s still not out of the woods yet by any stretch of the imagination. Chances are very high that his lymphoma will recur in 2008. But you never know. He still might beat the odds.

Comments

  1. #1 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    December 27, 2007

    Good news.

    This is of course proof that you were wrong all along. They don’t need any studies to show the efficacy of their cure because look he’s better.

  2. #2 SSS
    December 27, 2007

    There has to be a better way for decisions made for treatment of kids. For example: How can we differentiate that patients refusal to give treatment to their child or give quack treatments is due to concern and not abuse?

  3. #3 Punditus Maximus
    December 27, 2007

    With all due respect, we need to figure out how much interference in perfectly adequate parents’ lives we need in order to save the lives of a few very sick children.

    It would seem to me that a state law which funded appropriate study of the results of these therapies, then trumpeted them to the high heavens every few years — followed by fraud and murder charges for those still practicing after the “alternative” therapies had been conclusively shown fraudulent — would be far more effective.

  4. #4 Caledonian
    December 27, 2007

    Unfortunately, Maximus, most people involved in these debates don’t actually care about the welfare of children and their parents – they care about being seen to ‘care’, or sometimes they care about being able to view themselves as ‘caring’.

    The point is to use state power – the manifestation of group will – to shut down the people they disagree with. Whether they have valid reasons to disagree with them or not makes no difference. When the state enacts their will, they feel powerful.

    Until it’s someone else’s will directing the state against their interests and beliefs… then they’re all for limiting its power.

    Ultimately, people have to have the right to choose medical treatments for themselves, and that requires the right to refuse medical treatments. There is no way to give parents the authority to make medical decisions while simultaneously ensuring that their decisions are always palatable and acceptable to our sensibilities.

  5. #5 DLC
    December 27, 2007

    What part of “this stuff doesn’t work” do people have trouble understanding ? I just don’t get it. The overwhelming majority of “Alternative Medicine” is pure Bovine Feces, but people keep buying into the nonsense every day.
    And to think, I could invent some non-efficacious hyped junk and sell it on the internet for a huge price, but I just can’t sink that far into the Dark Side.