Respectful Insolence

When you’ve been at this blogging thing as long as I have, it’s possible to be shocked at how long you find yourself commenting on the same story. As I approach the end of the seventh year of Insolence, both Respectful and not-so-Respectful, I find these “senior blogging moments” popping up from time to time. One such story is that of a young man named Abraham Cherrix. I first learned of Cherrix back in June 2006, when, a few months after having been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma at age 15, Cherrix, supported by his mother, decided that he didn’t want to take any more chemotherapy and simply refused. His choice as an “alternative” therapy was a doozy, too, pure quackery. Instead of science-based medicine, Cherrix decided he wanted to undertake Hoxsey therapy, involving involves herbal concoctions popularized by Harry Hoxsey. Different varieties of this therapy exist, but they all trace their roots back to 1840 to Harry Hoxsey, who claimed that the formula had been passed down from his great-grandfather John Hoxsey to his grandfather to his father to him. The story claimed that John Hoxsey had mixed together grasses and flowering wild plants growing in a pasture where one of John Hoxsey’s horses grazed daily. The horse supposedly had a cancerous growth that went away, and Hoxsey thought that it was due to the plants upon which the horse grazed. He took plants from the pasture, mixed them together, added some ingredients for home remedies for cancer at the time, and–voilà!–he had what he thought was a cure for cancer. It’s a “cure” that is being hawked at quack clinics in Tijuana.

Cherrix and his parents ultimately were forced to go to court, where initially the judge ordered that the boy undergo chemotherapy. Throughout the “acute phase” of the Abraham Cherrix story, the issues raised included the question of how old a child must be before he can make his own health decisions and understand the consequences of choosing quackery over science-based medicine, particularly given the magical thinking about lymphoma that Abraham exhibited at many points during his odyssey. Indeed, it was Abraham Cherrix who, it might be said, “inspired” my post about chemotherapy versus death from cancer. Ultimately, a compromise was arrived at whereby, until he turned 18, Cherrix could pursue his woo but agreed to go to a woo-loving radiation oncologist for “spot” radiation therapy to the various lymphoma tumors plus a highly dubious-sounding form of “immunotherapy.”

In the end, Cherrix did surprisingly well, having probably had a fairly indolent form of Hodgkin’s disease. When last I wrote about him, Cherrix was parlaying his 15 minutes of fame into a speaking tour of medical schools, where he told his story and promoted his quackery. At the time, he spoke of using “detox foot baths” and how he wanted to become a naturopath. That was three years ago. This is now:

He’s also still battling Hodgkin’s disease, which he was diagnosed with in 2005 at the age of 15. Now, though, he’s fighting it away from news cameras, and outside the venue of the Accomack County Courthouse.

But he is still fighting it.

Since the court battle wrapped up in August 2006, he’s been through four different rounds of radiation to eradicate tumors, and even consented to a round of chemotherapy — his stubborn refusal of that treatment landed him and his family in court in the first place.

It’s rather interesting how in the past Cherrix liked to represent his battle against cancer as being won largely with “nontoxic” and “natural” therapies, just supplemented with a little bit of radiation administered by Dr. R. Arnold Smith. At the time, I pointed out that lymphoma is a systemic disease. Given that the “immunotherapy” that Dr. Smith promotes is pretty much worthless, that means that Cherrix has simply been treated with radiation over the last five years. Each time new tumors pop up, he gets them radiated, and the disease is in check for a while. While this approach is highly effective in the short term, it’s a strategy of diminishing returns. The radiation dose administered to normal tissue is cumulative and permanent. There is a limit to the amount of radiation normal tissue can tolerate. The problem with the approach that Cherrix is taking is that it’s quite similar to playing Whac-A-Mole. More importantly, sooner or later, tumors will recur in parts of the body that have already had their maximum safe exposure to radiation. When that happens, no more radiation can be given. As has been discussed before, in failing to eradicate the tumor when it was diagnosed, Cherrix has chosen a course doomed to ultimate failure, although certainly the process can be dragged out for quite some time.

Unfortunately, as much as I had hoped that Cherrix would have matured by age 20, apparently he has not. He’s still just as stubborn and unyielding as he was when he was 15; only now he’s running out of options:

The next year [2010], he felt a small raised spot on the left side of his chest. He ignored it.

“I had this idea of, ‘Yes, I’m done with cancer.’ I was in denial. I didn’t want to entertain the thought that it might be back. It’s annoying. You want to stop eventually. I was trying a new experiment of, ‘If I think positive, what effect will that have on my body?’ “

Whatever effect thinking positive had on Cherrix’s body, it didn’t stop his lymphoma from popping back up again last year. In fact, in this very same article, bioethicist Art Caplan put it quite succinctly by saying that “cancer kills people who think positively as well as those who think negatively.” Certainly thinking positively didn’t stop this:

But by summer, he was coughing up blood. Rose took him to a hospital in nearby Radford. An X-ray showed a tumor in his lung that was pressing against a blood vessel.

“It scared me. Subconsciously, I knew what it was.”

They wanted him to have a lung biopsy. Abraham, though, wanted to go back to see Dr. Smith in Mississippi.

He was told if he left it would be against doctor advice, because the vessel could burst at any moment. Also, if he left against doctor advice, he would likely have a hard time getting insurance to cover his treatment out of state.

Fortunately, Dr. Smith was able to eradicate this latest tumor with six weeks of what is described as low dose radiation treatment that ended early this year, and, as the article points out, there are parts of Cherrix’s body that can’t take any more radiation, such as the area around the spinal cord. Basically, if he gets another tumor that might impinge on his spinal cord, he’s screwed, as in he’ll be paralyzed at the level the tumor compresses his spinal cord. It’s possible that surgery might delay the process, but in general spine surgeons tend to be very reluctant to operate on cancer compressing the spinal cord because the chances of complications are high if the area being operated on has been radiated before. Loosing control on one’s bowel and bladder followed by ultimately losing control of the lower extremities is not fun, but it’s certainly a possible fate that Cherrix faces.

In fact, this article even addresses that very question, with the reporter asking Wilson Gaillard, the administrator at Dr. Smith’s clinic point-blank, what would happen if a tumor popped up in an area that could no longer be radiated. His answer was hardly reassuring:

“We’ll have to reach into our bag of tricks,” Gaillard said. “Some treatments are more effective than others, but there are still options. We are keeping our fingers crossed and hoping we won’t see him again.”

I’ll bet they are. Even Dr. Smith must realize that his “immunotherapy” didn’t work, and that if Cherrix shows up again at his Mississippi clinic he’ll have precious little to offer him. Unfortunately, Abraham is not so realistic:

Abraham said that even if another tumor arises in a place where he can’t use radiation again, there are more options out there, including the one he wanted to try in the first place, the Hoxsey method.

“It was working,” he said.

Actually, no it wasn’t. If it were, he wouldn’t have needed radiation, even the suboptimal regimen administered by Dr. Smith. But Hoxsey therapy isn’t the only woo that Cherrix would try:

“There’s dozens of things,” he said before launching into a discussion about medicinal mushrooms and the “Rife Ray Machine.” Both are alternative methods that have been denounced by the medical establishment. Alternative medicine websites, though, tout them as methods “the medical Mafia” wants to keep under wraps.

Ah, yes. Shades of Kevin Trudeau again! Alternative cancer cures “they” (whoever “they” are) don’t want you to know about.

I’ll be the first to admit that Cherrix has done better than I predicted for longer than I predicted. However, it should not be forgotten that he’s had multiple recurrences, requiring multiple courses of radiation therapy to different parts of his body. It also shouldn’t be forgotten that he’s running out of options as far as radiation goes, having maxed out areas of his body, such as around the spinal cord, on radiation such that he can’t have any more there. In fact, I’m not even sure that I buy that he’s in remission right now, given how Gaillard described Cherrix’s tumor markers as indicating he’s in remission but characterized his tumors themselves as having “diminished.” Not “disappeared,” but diminished, which implies that they’re still there, in which case Cherrix is not in remission. This well might be the case, given that Cherrix’s most recent course of radiation was described as “low dose,” which suggests a dose inadequate to eliminate the tumors. Certainly, it’s possible that Cherrix is currently in remission, but I doubt it.

Unfortunately, what I see is a young man who appears to be slowly approaching the end of the line. What saddens me is that it didn’t have to be this way; Cherrix’s lymphoma was highly curable with radiation and chemotherapy when he was diagnosed. If he had followed the standard of care, his chances of long term survival would have been excellent. He didn’t, and now he’s running out of options. It’s not even clear to me that, if he changed his mind suddenly and decided to go all out with everything science-based medicine has to offer, it’s not already too late. I hope it isn’t, and I hope Cherrix changes his mind, in case it isn’t too late.

Comments

  1. #1 anarchic teapot
    September 26, 2011

    I read the article, which is fairly uncritical even if you don’t have to be a doctor to spot that the mindset transmitted to this poor lad by his parents (they named him Starchild, FFS) is clearly killing him.

    Very sad.

  2. #2 Lawrence
    September 26, 2011

    Certainly, people can forgoe treatment (and going with “alternative treatments” are, for lack of a better term, forgoing treatment) & perhaps be that 1 in a million person who manages a spontaneous remission of their cancer.

    Or, more likely, we’ll be reading a story in a year or two when this poor kid finally succumbs. Very sad really.

  3. #3 MikeMa
    September 26, 2011

    Clearly faced with the reality that his woo has failed and yet still in denial. His choice to forego chemo when offered as his best option was slow, delusional suicide.

    He keeps going back for radiation (to the point of reaching maximum dose is some areas) but somehow squares that with the ‘natural’ path. If he can accept radiation and change positions enough to seek that out couldn’t he have tried and learned to accept chemo? Chemo & radiation are just different prongs of the same, science-based fork.

  4. #4 Ajax
    September 26, 2011

    It’s so hard to read. I still remember a patient like that who left a wife and 3 kids under 5. I remember everything about them as if it were today. I find it hard think about even now after almost 20 years.

  5. #5 LW
    September 26, 2011

    A few years before Cherrix was diagnosed, a friend of mine was diagnosed with the same thing. But he didn’t mess around; he got the recommended treatment. He was pretty miserable for a while and took a leave of absence from work to get through it, but today he’s happy and healthy — and he isn’t looking at tumors here and there and hopng that they won’t kill him, or wondering what happens if a tumor pops up where he’s already had maximum radiation.

    What’s the harm of quack medicine? If Cherrix could bring himself to admit it, he could tell you in detail.

  6. #6 Will
    September 26, 2011

    Oh lord, this guy again. I remember hearing about it early on (I’m from the Tidewater area) and thinking this guy’s a doofus. And now I see he’s moved to Floyd, I am not surprised at all. Floyd’s full of ‘to the max’ hippies and the like. There was even a whooping cough outbreak there because of that sort of mindset: http://www.roanoke.com/news/roanoke/wb/282419
    “The outbreak was caused by not properly vaccinating people against the disease, O’Dell said, noting that a subset of the population does not follow vaccination recommendations.”

    Ugh.

  7. #7 MosesZD
    September 26, 2011

    My cousin Vickie’s oldest daughter got this cancer. Way back in the early 1990′s… My being from a generation where most cancers were almost always fatal (or at least that was my perception) I about freaked out.

    Anyway, she did the evil ‘big medicine’ treatments. And even by the 1990′s they’d made so many treatments that the prognosis was still pretty good.

    I’m happy to say she’s been healthy as a horse since. Graduated college with honors. Has a great husband who treats her like a queen. Has a couple of kids of her own. I mean, really, she has everything she has wanted out of life and it really couldn’t be much better…

    Then I read about this boy… And I think about the kind of life he could have had… The one he’s throwing away out of ignorance, stubbornness and stupidity all indoctrinated into him/supported by his mother…

    It’s so damn sad…

  8. #8 Old Rockin' Dave
    September 26, 2011

    What makes his prospects even worse is that even though he might opt for chemotherapy somewhere down the line is the phenomenon known as “radiation recall”. What this means is that giving chemotherapy can cause tissues that have been irradiated before to flare up just as if they had received more radiation. This is usually a nasty sunburn-like rash, but deep tissue can also be affected, including the mouth, digestive tract, bone marrow, lungs and nervous system. The hem/onc physician who treats him will have his work cut out for him.

  9. #9 Reuben
    September 26, 2011

    I’m not an oncologist, and my only study of Hodgkin’s is from what a close friend of mine just experienced. If this kid would have gone through the proper treatment, would he still be playing “whack-a-mole” or would he be done and over with it? (Or what are the odds that he’d be done with it vs. still dealing with something these many years post-diagnosis?)

    I suppose I could seek out the answers myself, but I have no doubt that the trolls will wake up this morning and quickly log in to try to say that he’s been “just fine” all this time without “western medicine”. So what are the odds he’d also be just fine, except without having to deal with each little tumor that comes about?

  10. #10 Lawrence
    September 26, 2011

    Because he’s playing “whack-a-mole” with the targeted, low-level radiation treatments, he’s not dealing with the systemic disease – which is why it keeps coming back.

    While I’m sure Orac has a better grasp of the odds, this individual is doing nothing more than putting a “bandaid” on his problem – without dealing with the root problem.

  11. #11 Nonsense on Stilts
    September 26, 2011

    @Lawrence

    “Spontaneous remissions” do not occur in Hodgkin’s Lymphoma [HL}. HL was one of the most dreaded cancers before we had effective therapy. I have seen a few patients die from disease that was refractory to chemotherapy. It is horrible; they all suffered terribly. Abraham’s only hope at this point is high dose chemotherapy and an autologous stem cell transplant. He still has a chance, albeit small, of being cured.

  12. #12 Poodle Stomper
    September 26, 2011

    It’s sad to see just how easily transmissible woo can be. This case of Mother To Child transmission may very well cost him his life (although I certainly hope it doesn’t have to come to that). I wonder just how the mom will justify her actions later if the lymphoma wins out.

  13. #13 MikeMa
    September 26, 2011

    Seems almost certain that the cancer will claim this young man soon. He is not likely to reverse course after 5 years of ‘success’ using limited radiation and full-bore woo.

    His mother will believe that he wasn’t positive enough in his thinking and the cancer won. She is very likely also too woo-vested to admit an error.

  14. #14 Dianne
    September 26, 2011

    The hem/onc physician who treats him will have his work cut out for him.

    Understatement. He’s probably also burned out a fair amount of bone marrow fooling around with radiation here and there. And selected for the most resistant tumor cells. He’s still got a chance if he wises up and goes to a legitimate oncologist, but not as good a chance as he would have had 5 years ago. (Not that even then it was 100%: cancer’s nasty and sometimes kills even when everyone’s done their best.)

  15. #15 Militant Agnostic
    September 26, 2011

    There is a limit to the amount of radiation normal tissue can tolerate. The problem with the approach that Cherrix is taking is that it’s quite similar to playing Whac-A-Mole.

    It sounds more like playing Whac-A-Mole on your on face with a 5 pound hammer.

    I suspect he will opt for chemo when it is far too late and his inevitable death will be touted by the alties as another failure of “Western” medicine.

  16. #16 Crommunist
    September 26, 2011

    The frustrating part for me is that when he eventually does turn to science-based treatments, his disease will be so advanced that they will likely be ineffective. We can then expect the alt-med set to decry the chemo for being responsible for his death, rather than the years of self-destructive wishful thinking and gross misinformation.

  17. #17 Denice Walter
    September 26, 2011

    In this awful story, many themes with which I am sickeningly familiar again rear their ugly heads: Hoxsey, Rife, mushrooms ( remember commenter prn and PSK?), immunotherapy, positive thinking, magical thinking, magical cures….

    Abraham is another victim of the mis-information campaign waged against SBM by the woo-spewers: pitting wishes against reality sells products and ideology. Ardent desire for a cure will not increase the odds one whit while being terrified will not decrease them. People confuse this with endeavors in which effort, based on belief, makes a different: like studying or exercising.

    Whenever I hear strident claims by the usual suspects I think about people like this young man and his parents duped by charlatans who can go about their own lives merrily free to harm others as slipperily as usual. Their path may be traced by alt med beliefs, suggested “treatments”, and loathsome descriptions of SBM and its advocates. There is a parallel in the world of HIV/AIDs denialism: patients, frightened off standard ARVs, opt for useless alternatives, leading to their eventual deterioration and death. Making matters worse, woo-believers push for “woo first”, decreasing the odds even more.

    Because I worship at the altar of probability**, I might take comfort in the fact that most victims of woo-ful beliefs won’t actually die. Wasting time, effort, and money on nonsense usually isn’t fatal: it is ironically, SBM that is portrayed as the “Death Dealer”, leaving a trail of iatrogenic deaths in its wake, frightening patients off of what may be their only real chance of help.

    ** I actually do.

  18. #18 Calli Arcale
    September 26, 2011

    This is sad. In some respects, I wonder if he wouldn’t have been better off just going straight woo from the outset; at least then his demise would be quicker. The targeted radiation did prolong his life, but will that be at a cost of an even more painful end? How very sad.

    His case is an interesting one in where the line of consent should be drawn. As far as the question of whether or not alternative cancer treatments are effective, however, his case is not so much interesting as it is depressing.

  19. #19 Elizabeth
    September 26, 2011

    I know this is a horrible thing to say but why would any oncologist want to treat this guy? I’m not sure I couldn’t just tell him to f*ck off and die after he’s crapped all over the only treatment that would have saved his life in the first place. This just pisses me off to no end when I think that this young man has chosen to slowly kill himself while people with HL who have it properly treated go on to live long and (mostly) healthy lives.

  20. #20 elburto
    September 26, 2011

    WRT consent to/refusal of medical treatment: does the US not have anything like Gillick or Fraser Competence rules?

    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gillick_competence

    It does not sit easy with me that anyone under 18 cannot choose to refuse or accept medical (not woo, I’m firmly science based!) treatment when they have to live in that body.

    In the UK a child (under 16) has the right to consent to treatment, or refuse it, if they can prove that they understand the ramifications of doing so. Children can decline chemotherapy or transplants. One child famously refused a heart transplant, but changed her mind a few years later.
    Here’s an article referencing her, and lightly covering the right to choose.

    news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7721630.stm

  21. #21 Krebiozen
    September 26, 2011

    There was an interesting segment on a UK TV show recently about a young man with brain cancer who is pursuing alternative remedies. What makes particularly poignant is that his father is an oncologist. In this case the cancer is terminal, so I suppose no real harm is being done, but I feel for the father watching his son chasing rainbows.

  22. #22 epador
    September 26, 2011

    Too bad the Abscopal effect isn’t real.

  23. #23 MississippiSkeptic
    September 26, 2011

    I’d like to know more about this Dr. Smith guy. I’ve had some brushing run-ins with him, having found his Cancer Center number in a used rolodex from our local alt-med center when I was checking out a local vitamin quack.

    Then Smith also popped up on this story when you covered it last.

    Plus, there’s something… “off” about the website he runs and he’s involved with the “American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine.”

  24. #24 MississippiSkeptic
    September 26, 2011

    Bah. Blame my own self for that mistake. The url be here:

    http://cancernet.com/

  25. #25 Laura
    September 27, 2011

    I believe very strongly in people’s freedom of choice. If someone chooses to die of cancer, even deluded – they have control over their own bodies. They are the ones who are going to experience the suffering and dying.
    There are too many people who DO want help, to try to force help on those who don’t. All you can do is to tell them the truth and offer them options.
    If someone chooses this path – it’s a bit like the Buddhist monks who incinerate themselves – they can do it. It’s part of the human experience.
    A lot of harm in the world is caused by people who want to help.

  26. #26 Lawrence
    September 27, 2011

    Laura – should a parent be able to decide if their child should forgo treatment & die of a treatable disease?

  27. #27 lilady
    September 27, 2011

    @ Calli Arcale & Elburto: There is a special law enacted in Virginia Section 63.2-100 and it is actually known as “Abraham’s Law” You can view the entire law by “googling”:

    Code of Virgina 63.2-100

    A “quicky” analysis…Abraham’s Law permits parents of children age 14-17 year old to refuse medical treatment or to chose alternate treatment…if the teenager seems mature and the parents and child have considered all options and agree that their choice is in the child’s best interest.

    @ MississippiSkeptic: He refers to himself as Arnold Smith…other sites refer to him as R. Arnold Smith. I checked Arnold Smith-Mississippi at the AMA “doctor finder” site and he is a member of the AMA. I checked the Mississippi doctor’s licensing site (Ralph Smith) and he is licensed (Mississippi license # 07161). I also checked the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) site and Ralph Smith has certification from the American Board of Radiology-Therapeutic Radiology-General. The American Board of Anti-Aging Medicine is not recognized by the ABMS and you can check Wikipedia for this “board” certification.

    I also checked his CV at his clinic website. He claims residencies in neurology…but has no Board certification and most of the “research” he has published are, IMO, poster presentations at CAM conventions…a favored stunt (to add credentials to their CVs)…of practitioners of CAM.

    @ Elizabeth: I really don’t agree with you. I suggest you try to understand the child’s upbringing and the parents’ reaction to their child’s distress after undergoing traditional treatment. They were unable to understand the science behind treatment, were unable to work with their child to get him through treatments and they, not him, found “alternative” treatment.

  28. #28 Chris
    September 27, 2011

    Laura:

    I believe very strongly in people’s freedom of choice. If someone chooses to die of cancer, even deluded – they have control over their own bodies.

    Except when it comes to the symptoms starting to really cause them worry, they will drag everyone else into it.

    My son was not compliant with his beta blockers, and when he suffered tachycardia from his genetic hypertrophic cardiomyopathy he brought it to our attention. We had fire fighters and paramedics at our house, an ambulance trip to the emergency department and some follow-up medical appointments.

    Do you think he is really willing to die just to avoid to taking a daily pill?

    I don’t thing that Mr. Cherrix really understands the gravity of his decision, and he understood them even less when he was fifteen.

  29. #29 lilady
    September 27, 2011

    @ laura: We all know how you feel about curing cancer and even preventing cancer and how people should have “free choice”…your prior posts on Gardasil vaccine and cervical cancer prevention are “classic” anti-vax positions.

    I suspect that laura’s “knowledge” of cancer and cancer treatments is similar to her “knowledge” of immunology and vaccines…with a particular “expertise” on the cancer prevention properties of the HPV and Hepatitis B vaccines.

  30. #30 Narad
    September 27, 2011

    If someone chooses this path – it’s a bit like the Buddhist monks who incinerate themselves – they can do it. It’s part of the human experience.

    It’s not similar at all unless you want to toss out the relevance of the entire Mahayana belief system, religious precedent, and the sociopolitical environment of the time.

  31. #31 lilady
    September 27, 2011

    Oops…a slight correction to my post above “I checked Arnold Smith-Mississippi at the AMA “doctor finder” site and he is a member of the AMA”….it should read that I checked under his legal name Ralph Smith and he is a member of the AMA.

  32. #32 Calli Arcale
    September 27, 2011

    Laura:

    I believe very strongly in people’s freedom of choice. If someone chooses to die of cancer, even deluded – they have control over their own bodies. They are the ones who are going to experience the suffering and dying.

    In general, I agree. My grandfather chose to die of what was probably pancreatic cancer last year. He was in his 90s and satisfied that he had accomplished his life goals, and really didn’t want to put up with a biopsy and chemo at that stage. But he knew the score. Did Cherrix?

    I support informed consent, and in the spirit of that, I have to support people being informed and still deciding to do something crazy with their own bodies. But what about their children’s bodies, or the bodies of their elderly parents who are now incompetent to make such decisions? That’s where it gets murkier. Cherrix probably doesn’t really understand what the risks and benefits are, but I’m not sure that’s a solvable problem — there are many adults in the same situation, and we allow them to make bad decisions with their health care, so why not a 15-year-old? And that’s where it’s so murky. Where is the line between being able to consent to loopiness and when the state can take control of your wellbeing?

    I do not think parents have the right to treat their children however they wish. You have to feed your children, you have to clothe them, and you have to get them treated if they are injured or ill. Little kids who die of meningitis or pneumonia or epilepsy because their parents believe in faith healing, for instance. That doesn’t seem right to me. A line obviously has to be drawn, but it seems inevitable that there’s going to be suffering and misery in the vicinity of the line itself, because the law needs the line to be clearcut, when the reality is extremely gray.

  33. #33 Phoenix Woman
    September 29, 2011

    The other bitter irony here is that if he’d done the SBM route from the start, he’d have likely had a lot less chemo and surgery overall than what he’ll have gone through when all is said and done.

  34. #34 Ruth
    October 2, 2011

    Sometimes I have read your post since 2006 and other times just said forget it. You are so ignorant yourself on the issue you claim to have so much knowledge on. As a matter of fact I am using your blog in a college course to represent fallacies.
    You quoted Abraham:
    Abraham said that even if another tumor arises in a place where he can’t use radiation again, there are more options out there, including the one he wanted to try in the first place, the Hoxsey method.

    “It was working,” he said.

    Then you said, “Actually, no it wasn’t.”
    Actually Orac, it was. In 2006 his tumors were reducing on the Hoxsey and he was doing well. The court system would not let his family cross the VA state line and he could not go back for more. Only when he ran out did his tumors stop shrinking. Since his case financially wiped them out, he could not afford to go back to Mexico when eventually they won the case. You really should get your story straight.

    You also said: “Certainly, it’s possible that Cherrix is currently in remission, but I doubt it.” Guess what – HE REALLY IS

    This was also in a post: “Cherrix’s lymphoma was highly curable with radiation and chemotherapy when he was diagnosed. If he had followed the standard of care, his chances of long term survival would have been excellent.”
    He DID have an adult dose of chemo at 15. Documented in court records (and verified by 2 oncologists including the original oncologist) is the percentage of him surviving chemo the second time. In many of your blogs I keep seeing his survival rate being 80+%. That was the first time when having chemo. Because his cancer returned within a couple of months, his survival rate from the chemo not the cancer, was 25% or less. That means that there was a 75% chance that the chemo would kill him.

    Never have I heard such putting down as I have here. Even to the point of criticizing his name. I quote: “at the mindset transmitted to this poor lad by his parents (they named him Starchild, FFS) is clearly killing him. anarchic teapot” It just goes to show how people who are ignorant and wrong try to get the issue off track and attack someone. His parents taught him to think for himself and research. They taught him to stand up for his rights. If you had read more about him you would hear that he talked to many people and saw their medical test results that showed them cancer free (via Hoxsey method) after being sent home to die by the medical community.

    You said and I again quote: “When last I wrote about him, Cherrix was parlaying his 15 minutes of fame into a speaking tour of medical schools, where he told his story and promoted his quackery.” What is true is that he spoke to medical ethics classes trying to help build a bridge between patient and doctor in the future.

    I quote another post: “He’s still got a chance if he wises up and goes to a legitimate oncologist, but not as good a chance as he would have had 5 years ago.”
    He did. He even tried chemo again. It did not work. Only Dr Smith’s method worked for him.

    There was a girl in Florida whose situation was the same as Abraham’s. She died though when her cancer returned. The chemo damaged her heart so bad no one could help her. There is also a man who has dealt with Hodgkins. He had chemo. Did just what the doctor said. He even passed the 5 year mark. Then he got the side effect of chemo – Leukemia. What about the man who had Hodgkins that did everything the doctor recommended and finally they said, there is nothing else we can do. You are going to die and yes he did die. Yes, I knew each of these people personally. What is good for one is not good for another. One medication may save someone and kill another because their body is allergic to it. You should not criticize someone unless you know them and have all of the facts. All you all have to go on is hearsay. And yes, I know the Cherrix family personally so I know my facts are true, unlike all of you who want to do nothing but sit around and criticize people and situations that you know nothing about.

    I quote another post: “I know this is a horrible thing to say but why would any oncologist want to treat this guy? I’m not sure I couldn’t just tell him to f*ck off and die after he’s crapped all over the only treatment that would have saved his life in the first place.” Yes that is a horrible thing to say and thank God you are not a doctor. He had the treatment that was supposed to save his life and it did not work!!!!!!!!! The treatment – not the cancer – had a 75% chance of killing him. A true doctor wants to treat someone because they care.

    Everyone keeps talking about religion. This families choice was not based on religion.

    I quote one more post: “I suggest you try to understand the child’s upbringing and the parents’ reaction to their child’s distress after undergoing traditional treatment. They were unable to understand the science behind treatment, were unable to work with their child to get him through treatments and they, not him, found “alternative” treatment.”
    It is you who need to understand the child’s and parent’s situation. Through thorough research and talking to hundreds of people and personally viewing medical records, they made their choice. If you followed the story his father said in an interview one time that he was skeptical when Abraham went to him and said, I do not want to have chemo. Before making any decision they talked to patients and doctors and yes even other oncologists. This was not a sudden decision and was based on gathering of proof. Abraham knows more about medication and treatments than most people. There is always a thorough conversation between him and physicians in detail. It is actually intimidating for most physicians to have someone so knowledgeable question them. They would much rather someone just do what they say.

    It has now been 6 years since Abraham first got cancer. He is alive and well. He has had board certified physicians overseeing his care all along. Of course with the group of people here, I am sure you will have something negative to say. Well guess what? He passed the one year mark and then the 5 year mark that everyone put on him to die. Yes positive thinking helps. He hasn’t given up and laid down to die. That is due to not having people like you around him to bring him down and criticize him. You should lay off and work on your own life. Usually people who criticize others the way you all do are in denial or running from their own issues in life and say things about others to take the heat off of them. Pity.

  35. #35 sue uk
    October 2, 2011

    Abraham made/makes his own informed choices from the sound of things. Whilst all your concerns for him livng a long life are laudble, it is nonetheless his life to life.
    There are thousands of young americans who are likewise making their own life and death decisions, by joining an army which will post them to the likelyhood of an early death in Afghanistan etc. now that’s my version of indoctrinated choices for suicide. Had Abraham been healthy and felt he should fight for some reason or another, he could well have died from a roadside IED or a snipers bullet… but hey… how many of you tell the youth of america that if they want to live to a ripe old age…… avoid the armed forces!
    It’s an example of total hypocrasy…as long as you’re all safe in your beds……..

  36. #36 Gray Falcon
    October 2, 2011

    If somebody told you a road was safe to go down, but knew the road was dangerous, whose fault would it be if you got hurt going down that road?

  37. #37 Chris
    October 2, 2011

    sue uk:

    how many of you tell the youth of america that if they want to live to a ripe old age…… avoid the armed forces!

    There are parent groups in many high schools that have prevented military recruiters from entering the schools. They will be there next week during Curriculum Night at my daughter’s high school passing out their flyers to remind parents they can prevent their children from being on a list available to military recruiters (I’ll be sitting nearby asking for parents to participate in our science program).

    One of my sons did ask that his name be withheld from the military recruiters. Even after being told by my brother that during his twenty years as a Signal Corps Army officer the closest he ever came to danger were the lack of traffic laws enforcement in Saudi Arabia. But he was eighteen years old, not fifteen years old, so he was old enough to make his own decisions.

    I am pretty ambivalent. My father got his college degree through the GI Bill after WW II, and two of my nephews have served in the military, and another was washed out during basic training. There are requirements in the present voluntary military, and not every eighteen year old young adult qualifies.

    Your point?

  38. #38 Chris
    October 2, 2011

    sue uk, in case you are confused:

    Comparing a fifteen year old child with cancer being led away from real treatment to eighteen year old choosing to voluntarily join the military where the risk of injury is substantially less is:

    Comparing apples and oranges.

  39. #39 LW
    October 2, 2011

    “The treatment – not the cancer – had a 75% chance of killing him.”

    [Citation needed]

  40. #40 delurked lurker
    October 6, 2011

    Ruth said

    The treatment – not the cancer – had a 75% chance of killing him.

    That is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard and I echo LW

    Citation needed

  41. #41 Ruth
    October 6, 2011

    Citations are the court records. The oncologists that turned him in and another oncologist verifying that. Do you believe there is a God? Prove it. Show me a citation that proves His existence. So if Orac gives you a different percentage, you take his word for it instead of asking for a citation or proof. But someone who was in the courtroom and heard the testimony (me) you asked for a citation. LOL Anything that goes against what you “think” happened and you want a citation. Court records are sealed because he was a juvenile but I was there and heard it. At 14 years old a person is allowed to choose the treatment the doctors suggested even if the parent disagrees. His parents had to sign a paper in the beginning at the hospital acknowledging this. That changed when he disagreed. By the way, that was in the testimony in court also and official records. Yep, I witnessed that also.

  42. #42 LW
    October 6, 2011

    “So if Orac gives you a different percentage, you take his word for it instead of asking for a citation or proof.”

    First off, Orac is a known professional in this field. If he gives an opinion in his area of expertise, that opinion is entitled to respect. No offense, but who are you? An anonymous commenter on the Internet. You say you were a witness in the court hearings (which is odd as he was a juvenile and such hearings would not be expected to be public) and you say that “[t]he oncologists that turned him in and another oncologist” made this statement that the treatment had a 75% chance of killing the patient — but you haven’t presented any proof, not even the name or description of this treatment. Why should we believe your recollection of what you interpreted the oncologists to be saying, over the word of someone who is trained and practicing in the field?

    Second, there aren’t that many treatments that are in use that have a 75% mortality, and it is implausible that any of them would be used on someone who isn’t obviously at death’s door. So your story is implausible on the face of it, and Orac’s story (that the child would have had a good chance, though not a guarantee, of recovery with proper treatment) is plausible. So naturally we believe him over you. You need evidence to overcome the inherent implausibility of your tale.

  43. #43 LW
    October 6, 2011

    I should add that *even if* I disbelieved Orac — *even if* I believed that modern medicine could do absolutely nothing for a patient with Hodgkin’s lymphoma — *even if* I believed that chemotherapy and radiation treatment is just torturing the patient for no good reason — I *still* wouldn’t believe that oncologists got up before the Court and argued that this child should be forced to undergo a treatment with a 75% chance of causing his death. You need evidence for that, and hand-waving about God and sneering at Orac and commenters here do not constitute evidence.

  44. #44 deenaclaire
    October 6, 2011

    I think that Ruth got it muddled. I don’t think that most oncologists would say (or believe) that treatment has a 75% chance of “killing” him – it’s perhaps the other way around: that treatment would give Cherrix a 75% of recovery from a Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Hodgkin’s has a very nice success rate with conventional treatment.

    Of course, Ruth can always provide a better citation than waving her hand at some “court records.” Perhaps she can reproduce the records here? I, for one, confess some curiosity about this.

  45. #45 Militant Agnostic
    October 6, 2011

    Dollars to doughnuts the oncolologists said there was a 75% chance of survival with treatment and Ruth “heard what she wanted to hear” namely a 75% chance of the treatment killing him (if she was there at all). The ability of alties to misinterpret what they hear/read to support their beliefs is astounding. We see this all the time here when they cite studies that actually contradict the case the alties are trying to make.

  46. #46 Ruth
    October 6, 2011

    Yes it was juvenile court. There was actually a newspaper reporter in the first hearing that heard the family get run over. So Orac and you all know it all because you were there. Doesn’t really matter if you all believe me or not. Most people who try to prove their point of view without actually being there make up a scenario and even when something they have said is wrong will make an excuse to try to cover up their mistake. As I stated before, because his cancer returned in such a short time (2 months) his chance of surviving the chemo was only 25%. When a court seals records then you cannot get them. I am not an altie trying to make a case. I am someone very close to this family who knows more than you all ever hope to about the case. I do not have to prove anything to you because I tell the truth. You all are just jealous because you “think” you have the facts and have run your mouths so much and cannot stand the thought of someone else having the inside story and you being wrong. People with character admit when they are wrong. An oncologist testified saying just what I did and Abraham’s oncologist verified it – under oath I might add. I don’t care what degree Orac has. I have heard many people with degrees state wrong things just to put someone down. At least the doctors in the court room had the balls enough to tell the truth. Oh and LW, I never said modern medicine had nothing for a patient with Hodgkins. Just because a treatment is good for one person doesn’t mean it is for everyone. Each person’s body reacts differently to medications. What may save one can kill another because of how their body reacts. Abraham had to be rushed to the doctor many times when having chemo because of reactions to it. If what his wonderful family doctor did (more than once) would not have worked he was border line being flown to the hospital by helicopter. It continues to amaze me at the cold hearted people in the world such as you all who get off on attacking what other people do. You should look in the mirror and learn compassion. Abraham’s oncologist did not even ask the family what they were wanting to do or if they had gotten a second opinion before turning them in. All she knew what that they questioned wanting to do the chemo and wanted to try something else (she did not even know what it was. She was asked to monitor him while they tried something else and refused because she did not agree with what they were doing. Again she had no knowledge at that time what they wanted to do and did not ask. She did not even try to talk to them. They questioned her and she didn’t like it. So you want to know who I am. Die of curiosity then because I love the people on here who claim to know it all not knowing. I know more about this case than you all do though. The family is kind and caring and do not deserve the name calling (especially Abraham)and doomsday predictions and negative you are going to die input that you all have done. Abraham is a kind gentle loving person with a heart of gold that far surpasses any compassion that you all have. You should lay off of him and his family when you know NOTHING about them and you certainly do not have the facts on this case that you think you do. The medical students and medical professors that he gives talks to love him. He doesn’t get up there and down doctors. He says there are good and bad as in everything. He talks about doctors and patients having a relationship and talking. You all know nothing!!!

  47. #47 deenaclaire
    October 6, 2011

    Ah. So now the records are sealed and nobody can get into what they actually said.

    Ruth, I’m not trying to put you or anybody else down. I’m just a former lymphoma patient whose chemotherapy regimen cured her. Yes, everything was explained to me before and during treatment, and I signed off on this “informed consent.” Quite frankly, I cannot imagine any kind of doctor not wanting informed consent. If Cherrix’ doctor didn’t ask the family what they wanted, or if she/he just didn’t get a true consent, there’s a problem. In this country, physicians usually don’t get to do what they want. Not only would that be be an ethical issue, it’s legally problematic, and I would expect charges to be brought against this doctor. If, on the other hand, there is appropriate paperwork, then it’s a different issue.

    Ruth, nobody wants to see this person dead from a lymphoma. It’s a nasty way to die. I’m sure that Cherrix is a nice person. That’s not the issue either.

    Quite frankly, I don’t think anybody here is deeply interested in who you are. The issue of cancer treatment is what’s being presented.

  48. #48 Chris
    October 6, 2011

    Why should we believe you, Ruth?

    (white space is your friend, spaces between paragraphs would make you wall of text readable)

  49. #49 lilady
    October 6, 2011

    @ Ruth: We keep asking for citations…which you should be able to provide…being that you were in court and that you state:

    “Sometimes I have read your post since 2006 and other times just said forget it. You are so ignorant yourself on the issue you claim to have so much knowledge on. As a matter of fact I am using your blog in a college course to represent fallacies.”

    “The treatment – not the cancer – had a 75% chance of killing him.”

    When and where are you teaching a college class on “fallacies”? Why don’t you have the statistics about recommended treatment? (I’m especially interested in the 75% chance of the treatment “killing him”).

    Unless you provide the statistics, I’m going to assume to that you are shilling for alternative treatment and that you are just another crank troll.

  50. #50 W. Kevin Vicklund
    October 6, 2011

    As I stated before, because his cancer returned in such a short time (2 months) his chance of surviving the chemo was only 25%.

    Note that by changing one word in that sentence, I can completely alter the meaning:

    As I stated before, because his cancer returned in such a short time (2 months) his chance of surviving with chemo was only 25%.

    That revised sentence does not mean that he had a 75% chance of the chemo killing him, but rather a 75% chance of the chemo not saving his life. Completely different meaning.

  51. #51 LW
    October 6, 2011

    “Most people who try to prove their point of view without actually being there make up a scenario and even when something they have said is wrong will make an excuse to try to cover up their mistake”

    Yes, I’d say that’s what we think too.

  52. #52 LW
    October 6, 2011

    “Most people who try to prove their point of view without actually being there make up a scenario and even when something they have said is wrong will make an excuse to try to cover up their mistake”

    Yes, I’d say that’s what we think too.

  53. #53 delurked lurker
    October 6, 2011

    Hi Ruth

    Citations please on the ‘killer’ chemo that has a 75% chance of killing you, otherwise we call bullshit on your post and you are relegated to Troll status and please no waffle about sealed records, we want evidence.

  54. #54 LW
    October 6, 2011

    Sorry about the double post — my iPad flakes out sometimes.

    Ruth, you misunderstood my comment. I did not say or mean to imply that I thought you thought that “modern medicine had nothing for a patient with Hodgkin”. I said citation was needed that one or more oncologists stood up and demanded that the Court force a teenage boy, nowhere near death’s door, to undergo a treatment with a 75% chance of killing him. You responded that I was willing to believe Orac without a citation. My point was that I do not need to believe Orac — I could disbelieve every word he said, think that oncology was utterly useless, and believe that all of his training was mistaken, and I *still* wouldn’t believe your story because it is inherently implausible.

    No judge would order a child in fairly good health — even if facing death from cancer in a matter of months — to run a 75% chance of immediate death from treatment, and no doctor would demand it. I don’t have to know anything about oncology to know how people think in this regard.

  55. #55 Narad
    October 6, 2011

    I am someone very close to this family who knows more than you all ever hope to about the case. I do not have to prove anything to you because I tell the truth. You all are just jealous because you “think” you have the facts and have run your mouths so much and cannot stand the thought of someone else having the inside story and you being wrong.

    I tend to doubt that you’re close to anything aside from a restraining order.

  56. #56 herr doktor bimler
    October 7, 2011

    Citations are the court records.
    When a court seals records then you cannot get them.

    What I have found useful, when someone calls my bluff and asks for citations to support some bullshit that I have just made up, is to announce “It is IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE PROPHECY”. It puts them off their balance.

    Admittedly this did complicate my oral defense of my Ph.D thesis but that’s a long story.

    In future I will just explain “The truth of my statement is proven by the court records. Which, by the way, are sealed.”

  57. #57 Ruth
    October 7, 2011

    I really feel sorry for you guys that you do not know the wonderful young man you are attacking. I thought that I could explain a few of the details and you all would back off of him and the criticizing. If anything were to ever happen to him you all would probably cold heartedly say told you so or now how does his parents feel. Then you would revel in your victory. Maybe one day one of you will have the HONOR of hearing him speak and hear all that I have told you here from him. I am HONORED to have a close loving relationship with him and his family and do not care if you believe me or not. I truly do feel sorry for you all. Just because you do not agree with how someone decides to treat their cancer does not mean that you being the way you all are is right. How would you feel if you made a medical decision and got attacked by people for it? What gives you the right to play God and judge? What makes you right and him wrong. Thank God above he is alive and well and shame on all of you for all that you say.

  58. #58 Gray Falcon
    October 7, 2011

    Do you know what evidence it, Ruth?

  59. #59 Militant Agnostic
    October 7, 2011

    Herr Doktor Bimmler @57

    I think I will adopt your new approach since it seems to be much more effective than mine.

    I always say:

    If you don’t believe my story is true
    go ask the blind man, he saw it too.

  60. #60 lilady
    October 7, 2011

    @ Ruth: Obviously, you are full of it. You state that you are going to teach a college course on “fallacies”…yet are unable to provide ANY citations to support your argument about the recommended treatment “with a 75% chance of killing him”.

    You may or may not have a close relationship with Abraham and his family and you may or may not have been in court…but you definitely aren’t preparing a college course on “fallacies” because you are incapable of providing citations to back up that outrageous statement about treatment-related fatalities.

    BTW Ruth, I think it is very unusual for you to have personal relationships with three people diagnosed with lymphoma who opted for alternative treatments. The Lymphoma Age-Adjusted Incidence Rate is 2.8/100,000. You are just a crank troll who is probably also a shill for an alternative cancer treatment protocol.

  61. #61 deenaclaire
    October 8, 2011

    Ruth: Nobody here is attacking Cherrix or his family … people are voicing different opinions, and clearly that’s something you can’t tolerate. That’s one of the problems that you present, whether you know it or not.

    If you know some lymphoma patients who have recovered from their lymphomas without conventional treatment, then I say “hallelujah.” But, being a lymphoma survivor myself,I know all to well how some lymphomas – the indolent ones – wax and wane, and go into a kind of sleeping remission – sometimes for years. I know many people who are in the wax-and-wane state (they’re usually found on lymphoma email support lists), who may not look at treatment for ten years. It’s not unusual. There are about 30 different kinds of lymphoma…each one acting a bit differently than the others. So what appears as a “cure” for these indolent diseases may, in fact, be a long remission.

    I’m sorry that Cherrix didn’t get a good remission from his initial treatment. My sorrow isn’t because I love him or hate him – that really has nothing to do with anything but you. I have seen many people on this topic show their sadness for his condition. Nobody is “playing God” in here…I just feel your anger because people disagree with you. It’s something you might look for a different kind of treatment for.

    And I do agree with whoever asked you to break up your messages into paragraphs. Life is difficult enough without digging through a turgid bunch of words that jump from one idea to another. White space loves you.

  62. #62 Lydia
    November 30, 2011

    My niece had this cancer in the late 1980s. She went through the standard (devastating) treatment and was “cured” but went on to develop a secondary cancer in 2002. She died within 3 months at the age of 35. Was she glad to have those extra 15 years of life? I suspect so, but she also lived with a constant fear of recurrence. I would probably get treated myself, but having witnessed her journey, have a bit more sympathy for Cherrix than some of the commenters.

  63. #63 Lawrence
    November 30, 2011

    There is always a chance that cancer can re-occur. I would take an extra 15 years over dying the first time around – wouldn’t you?

  64. #64 Abraham Cherrix
    May 20, 2012

    Firstly, I do not see much need for an introduction at this point. I’d like to get right down to the point, as there are inconsistencies with-in this blog and the posts that have followed, largely due to the media’s faulty nature of reporting things.

    As so many people seem to forget, I actually did take Chemo in 2005 when I was diagnosed, and did so for the full 3 month regiment. I was in complete remission for 2 months, followed by an aggressive return that had doctors baffled. Having almost died from the initial chemo (as told by my doctors), it was explained to me that I would be given high-dose chemo and radiation next, and that I had a 27% chance of surviving the -treatments-.

    This is where I began to research alternative therapies and found the Hoxsey clinic, which sported an 80% cure rate. Naturally, having just discovered such “quackery”, I was inclined to look into it. The initial trip to the clinic was simply an evaluation, however the amount of patients with success stories that came and went from that clinic on a daily basis was astounding. I spoke with at least twenty of them, most were “impossible” cases from doctors who had said it was time to call Hospice. My father and I had arrived in Tijuana as two skeptics, and left it as firm believers.

    On that note, your story of Hoxsey is incorrect. He did not simply bottle the herbs and claim them as a cure, he tried them on cancer victims with success. Then he claimed it a cure.

    Moving on, when we arrived back in Virginia and the court cases began, we were barred from leaving Virginia itself. The tonic was beginning to have a drastic effect on my body. The tumor in my neck was shrinking, and I was feeling much better. Alas, we ran out of the tonic itself, and could not return to Tijuana. It may also be interesting to note that the scans taken before and after the tonic’s intake showed a decrease in the cancerous masses, not an increase. Thus, I can only assume through various evident sources of information that the tonic had at LEAST some validity.

    Dr. Arnold Smith was a doctor we found who was willing to allow me to take any treatments I wanted, which quelled the seemingly insatiable hunger of Social Services for a more mainstream approach. It was a loophole out, and I had no intention of doing any form of radiation therapy.

    That being said, upon arriving at Dr. Smith’s clinic I was asked to hear what he had to say. I must admit, his case was convincing, but he offered a different plan for radiation than I was accustomed to: Low dose radiotherapy over longer periods of time (the same amount as normal radiation therapy, only given in smaller doses), diet, supplements. I had yet to try radiation, and thus I gave it a chance.

    The radiation worked amazingly, completely eliminating the tumors in the radiated areas. During this time, I underwent chemotherapy again when Dr. Smith asked me to trust his judgement and give it one more chance. A quote from the chemotherapist who administered my treatment in Mississippi: “The cancer isn’t responsive to anything less than high dose chemotherapy. It would be risky, but we’ll go ahead and do that.”

    In conclusion, you were right about one thing. Hodgkin’s Disease is easily curable by chemo and radiation. Most of the time. In my case, not so much.

    Facts:

    1. I’ve tried chemo twice, doctors showed less and less hope.

    2. I’ve tried radiation (same mainstream doses, different application method).

    3. Alternative medicine is just as real as mainstream medicine, but is completely shunned by medical practitioners and the AMA for “lack of scientific evidence”. They do not test these alternative treatments in labs to discover their validity, that much is common knowledge.

    4. Even in a scenario where I’m incorrect in my research, where alternative medicine turns out to be falsified quackery, doctors and scientists alike can agree that diet and supplements play large roles in recovery. This is also true for positive thinking. Even today, more and more reports seem to be popping up that support what alternative practitioners have already been claiming for years. Benefits are benefits, regardless of their magnitude.

    5. Writers and bloggers will continue to get this story wrong, claiming to know the difference between fact and fiction when they’ve obviously been reading from disingenuous journalism and unreliable sources. If you don’t know by now that the media mis-represents stories (whether knowingly or unknowingly), perhaps you should take another shot at blogging/reporting. Get the inside story, the shell isn’t adequate.

    It further disturbs me that this blog is based on a science website. Surely I would have thought these people to be informed, however I find their/your assertions strangely littered with inaccuracies. I’m not bothered if I can’t prove my point to others, but I am bothered when respected and intelligent individuals so obviously mix fact and fiction.

    To close, I’m doing very well today thanks to the care of many people both in and out of the medical community. I’m a thousand times more active and healthy than any bed-ridden individual who has undergone extreme chemo and radiation, and that’s how I prefer to live. Even in the unlikely case that chemo would cause me to live a longer life, I would be sacrificing my quality of life to an un-repairable measure.

    In the end it’s your choice: Live well, try different methods to see what works for you(even if that means chemo), and make your own judgement calls. Or do what your told and find out the hard way.

    Best wishes,
    Abraham

  65. #65 squirrelelite
    May 20, 2012

    Abraham,

    Thanks for coming here to comment on your progress.

    I wish you the best in your battle against cancer.

    One question, please. You stated that the Hoxsey clinic sported an 80% cure rate. Do you know if they have published any case series or other studies and where those could be found?

  66. #66 lilady
    May 20, 2012

    @ Abraham Cherrix: This blog and the posts it has generated is really not all about you, but rather your parents decision to stop treatment and take you to Mexico, for alternative treatment.

    You underwent some quack treatments in Mexico, then returned to the USA, where your *treatments* in Mexico were discussed in a closed court hearing, including *magical curative mushrooms* and the *Rife Ray Machine* (TM). At that time, the court determined that you were mature enough to participate in your treatment decisions.

    http://www.bioelectricsforhealth.com/

    “Ruth” who purports to intimately know you and other cancer patients who underwent the Hoxsey treatment came to post here. When asked for some specifics, “Ruth” was unable to provide them and when asked about the course she was going to teach in college about the success of your treatments…she couldn’t provide them.

    Just a few questions now about the treatment that has been provided by Dr. Smith…

    You claim that alternative-type treatment is just as valid as mainstream treatment. Why don’t you provide citations from studies that show the Hoxsey treatment or Dr. Smith’s treatment is a viable alternative to the treatment that your original oncologists recommended?

  67. #67 Abraham Cherrix
    May 20, 2012

    Squirrelelite,

    Unfortunately I do not. The best way to find any information on the Hoxsey clinic is to contact them (http://www.cancure.org/hoxsey_clinic.htm) or speak to patients.

    Should anyone feel adventurous, the clinic will not charge you if you cannot afford their treatments. There is no risk for at least trying it, even if you’re taking mainstream treatments.

    Also note that the Hoxsey Clinic is not the only form of alternative treatment. There are many, many others available if you’re willing to look for them, some with even more grassroot-success than the clinic itself.

  68. #68 Abraham Cherrix
    May 20, 2012

    Lilady,

    I am well aware of the topic presented in the blog post. However, mis-representation of information should be corrected. I did not claim this article was about me in any way.

    I don’t know where you’re getting your information, but the Rife Ray and “magical mushrooms” were never spoken about in court, nor in my home. The courts do not get side-tracked by such specifics, and focused only on my rights as an individual. I did not even learn of the Rife Ray until years later, and even still none are currently in existence that I’m aware of.

    On a final note, I’m not trying to convince you of the validity of alternative medicine. I’ve found such arguments futile for a couple of reasons:

    –1. I do not have any citations. Research for or against these treatments from valid sources are difficult to come by, and I do not make assumptions based on such research. I had an experience with alternative therapies that was positive. If you don’t believe me, that’s fine.

    –2. Stubborn people are stubborn. If we spoke about this, we could both go on forever and never reach a conclusion.

    My question to you is: Why is it so difficult to believe that strengthening somebody’s physical well-being is beneficial to their fight against disease?
    I’m certainly not claiming that alternative medicine is a sure-fire cure-all for mankind, but I am implying that it does make a difference.

    In my personal opinion, separating between alternative medicine and modern medicine is a bridge that needs to be crossed. Healthy dieting, herbal supplements and bodily treatments have no negative effects on the body, and I’m sure we can both agree they help. Any doctor will tell you that.

  69. #69 Marry Me, Mindy
    May 20, 2012

    The best way to find any information on the Hoxsey clinic is to contact them (http://www.cancure.org/hoxsey_clinic.htm) or speak to patients.

    I thought YOU were a patient?

  70. #70 lilady
    May 20, 2012

    @ Abraham Cherrix: Well, your last post certainly does address the treatments you underwent.

    Why don’t you check into the court papers and locate for us…and for yourself…what “evidence” about the Hoxley treatment was presented on your behalf during the closed court hearing where the determination was that you had the *maturity* to decide what treatments you would be undergoing?

    Now you have embarked on a new set of treatments administered by Dr. Smith, that are not curative, but are palliative in nature….the so-called Whack-A-Mole oncology treatments. You *claim* that you have no published studies and suggest that we “speak to patients”. We are speaking to a patient here and he has not provided any information about the treatments or any information about the success of those treatments.

    What about your intimate friend “Ruth”, Abraham? She claimed to have knowledge about the successful treatments and claimed to be setting up a college course to lecture about these curative treatments. You should be able to get her *lecture* notes, which most certainly would contain the elusive citations from the actual studies.

  71. #71 Abraham Cherrix
    May 20, 2012

    Mindy,

    Indeed, but you’re not going to take my word for it. Especially since I was unable to complete my treatment there, and was not technically “cured” by the treatment itself.

    If you want evidence, you’re going to have to do your homework. As I stated before, I do not have citations and I’m not claiming the clinic is a cure-all, but I have met and spoken with countless patients with some amazing stories and records to back them up.

    I’m not a medical know-it-all. I’m not a scientist or a pharmacist. I’m a critical thinker, and I don’t take anyone’s word without proper evidence to back it up (as you shouldn’t take mine). I found that this treatment had a profound effect on me for the better, it’s as simple as that.

    In short, if someone wants to discover the truth behind something, they’ll make an effort to find it. When they do, it will be through their own method, thus they will believe it. I’m not asking to be believed, I’m telling you to test it all for yourself.

  72. #72 Abraham Cherrix
    May 20, 2012

    Lilady,

    There was no evidence for the Hoxsey treatment available in the court case, and we offered none apart from what we had learned when we visited the clinic. My maturity was not brought into question after we began seeing Dr. Smith, a certified medical radiologist. They simply let it go.

    I believe if you read my response to Mindy you’ll find the reason why I’m not endorsing my own claim as a patient. Believe what you will, it’s of no concern to me.

    As for Ruth, I have no idea who she is. I’ve never been closely involved with anyone by that name, unless it was perhaps a nurse whom I spoke with. Do not rest your claims on an anonymous person claiming to know me, the media has been doing that for quite some time.

  73. #73 lilady
    May 20, 2012

    Abraham: Let’s not go down that “healthy living” road, once again. When have you ever heard of a doctor who didn’t recommend a well-balanced diet and exercise to maintain one’s homeostasis? If you have been following this blog and other science blogs, then you must realize that the ingestion of vitamins and supplements that are not prescribed by a physician or a registered dietician for a specific deficiency are totally useless…and sometimes downright dangerous; try looking up hypervitaminosis.

    Let’s get back to the question at hand. Where are the citations from studies showing the effectiveness for the Hoxley treatment…and for the *hit and miss* treatments you received from Dr. Smith?

    What specific treatments did you receive while in Mexico and what specific supplements did you ingest?

    What about Ruth…who claimed to have intimate knowledge of you and your cancer treatments?

    -Are you willing to confirm that she knows you and your cancer treatments?

    -Will you deny that she knows you and your cancer treatments?

    -Is she just a troll or is she shilling for the Hoxley treatment?

  74. #74 Abraham Cherrix
    May 20, 2012

    Lilady,

    I believe that the fact that most doctors do not suggest healthy diets and supplements is a bad thing. Especially when there are plenty of studies showing that eating wrong can harm your health. Fortunately, I’ve have many doctors tell me that supplementing and dieting are important, and I’m not speaking of alternative therapists.

    Hypervitaminosis is caused when someone intakes extremely high doses of certain vitamins. If you’re taking supplements correctly and not overdosing yourself, this should not happen.

    For the third time, there are no citations that I’m aware of. Perhaps you should read my posts instead of asking questions I’ve already answered. As for Dr. Smith, I will simply direct you to his site: http://cancernet.com/

    Hoxsey tonic: Purified water (by reverse osmosis), licorice root (glycyrrhiza glabra), red clover blossom (trifolium pratense), burdock root (arctium lappa), queen’s delight root (stillingia sylvatica), cat’s claw bark (uncaria tomentosa), prickly ash bark (zanthoxylum americanum), sheep sorrel herb (rumex acetosella), turkey rhubarb root (rheum officinale), slippery elm bark (ulmus rubra), bladderwrack herb (fucus vesiculosus). Unlisted is potassium iodide. I cannot recall the many supplements I was taking at the time, however they were common vitamins and minerals (B12, A, C and D. Selenium, EFAs etc).

    Again, as I’ve already said, read my posts. I do not know Ruth, and I deny that she knows me or my treatments. Is she a shilling for the Hoxsey treatment? I don’t know. I’m not associated with her.

    A bit of helpful advice: Listen to what other people say before you ask them redundant questions. I’m not here to prove that alternative medicine works, that’s your job if you want it. I’m here to point out that this blogger was wrong in many aspects of his report, and I do not enjoy being mis-represented.

  75. #75 Denice Walter
    May 20, 2012

    @ Abraham Cherrix:

    I sincerely hope that you are well and remain so- WHATEVER caused your improvement- alt med, delayed effects of standard therapies, a combination or spontaneous remission.

    My question involves another issue that I think is worth considering:
    is it be possible that other people who have cancer and are very frightened of standard treatments- like chemotherapy- might be influenced by your choice and ideas about therapies- EVEN if you tell them that you’re not an expert etc? Just because they observe that you’re better, they would then eschew standard treatment to their own detriment.

    In a similar vein, might not people who advocate various alt med treatments and/ or oppose mainstream medicine for WHATEVER reason, use your story as an example to lure in clients or to cast aspersion on medical consensus and thus, also frighten people away from provern treatment?

    Of course, in neither case would you be directly responsible because they are making their own choices but you could conceivably be amongst the factors that influence their choices. I survey alt med websites and know that you have been spoken about as being an exemplar of their own particular slant on health EVEN though you don’t know these people or give your approval to them.

    At any rate, I wish you the best.

  76. #76 Chemmomo
    May 20, 2012

    Abraham,
    You have actually summed up the problem with alternative treatments with your own words. I shall quote you:

    3. Alternative medicine is just as real as mainstream medicine, but is completely shunned by medical practitioners and the AMA for “lack of scientific evidence”. They do not test these alternative treatments in labs to discover their validity

    –1. I do not have any citations. Research for or against these treatments from valid sources are difficult to come by, and I do not make assumptions based on such research.

    This is exactly the problem: the alternative practitioners do not test their own treatments to determine their validity.

    You see, it’s not up to the mainstream folks to do that. The mainstream folks test the mainstream treatments, and publish those results. All we’re asking is that the alternative treaters to do the same.

    You yourself said you don’t make assumptions. Neither do we.

    Best wishes for you.

  77. #77 Abraham Cherrix
    May 20, 2012

    Denice Walter,

    Your question is reasonable, and I understand your concern. However, while I’m not trying to make people believe in anything, I do believe that alternative medicine works.

    My advice to anyone is to do what works best for you. Monitor your condition carefully and discover the best path for you to take, whether that course be chemo and alternative methods. If a person is swayed by my story to be inquisitive, that is their own choice, and I am not responsible for their decisions.

    As for the sites that use my example, I cannot change that. Would I want to? That depends. Despite my belief in alternative medicine, there is a lot of quackery out there, and a lot of alternative claims that are ridiculous. However, using my case as an example is not against the law, and in itself is a form of citing.

    Not to be rude at all, but I do think that the question you put forth is a bit one-sided. Proven methods of treatment for cancer specifically is still a faulty science, as it causes high collateral damage both during and after the treatments. In some cases, it may even bring about the patient’s demise. And yet, even in the case of “proven” treatments, we came to them through experimentation. If a victim of cancer is willing to explore, perhaps another form of doctoring will be discovered. Perhaps it already has.

    Thank you for the inquisitive query, and for your wishes good sir.

  78. #78 Abraham Cherrix
    May 20, 2012

    Chemmomo,

    You make a very reasonable point, and I agree with you for the most part. As I said before, I do not claim to be an expert.

    Also, I might add that because I cannot cite anything doesn’t mean there isn’t research to cite. I stated that it was difficult to find any.

    I will also agree that it’s the alternative practitioner’s job to publish relevant information, but I’ll also state that just because information is not published does not mean it isn’t available.

    Another point I’d like to make: Doctors test mainstream medicine through funding, not out of their pockets. Most alternative practitioners to not have access to any major test funding. There are not a lot of reports for alternative medicine on EITHER end, mainstream or alt practitioner. It’s a very grey and untested thing. This does not mean it doesn’t work.

    Personally, I think that a “doctor” is anyone who wants to help people be well again. In my opinion, alternative medicine needs more research, whatever source that research may come from.

  79. #79 Krebiozen
    May 20, 2012

    I’m very glad Abraham is still doing well, but sceptical about the role of the Hoxsey method in that. Anyone interested in the success rate of the Hoxsey Bio-Medical Center in Tijuana might find this paper of interest.

    Charts were available for 89.6% of the 307 new patients treated at the Bio-Medical Center; 149 (54%) patients were treated for cancer and 65 (43.6%) cases were confirmed by pathology reports. […} Survival at 5 years was determined for 57.0% at the Bio-Medical Center (11.4% were alive and 45.6% were deceased) […}. The limited number of cases by cancer site prevented comparison to conventional treatment.

    As Dr.Moran points out here, 54% of the recorded patients had locally or regionally contained tumors, and only 38% were metastatic, meaning overall these patients had a good prognosis. Even so, only 17 out of 149 patients were known to be still alive after 5 years whereas 68 were known to be dead and 64 were lost to follow-up. Since those lost to follow-up are very likely to have died, this means the 5 year survival rate is more like 11%, and at the very most 54% (assuming all patients lost to follow-up were still alive) not the 80% claimed.

  80. #80 Denice Walter
    May 20, 2012

    @ Abraham:

    Thanks for your response- altho’ SBM may be one-sided, it can illustrate through accumulated data just what the risks can be as well as the benefits- how long people live, what percentage are cured, what side effects occur, how the treatmentrs might interfere with daily living: we know these things. With alt med treatments, we often have NO data or data that contra-indicates their usage. That’s
    the issue! Data vs none ( or none that shows it works).

    Now purely for *my* curiosity, if you would be so kind: if you were asked by a health freedom group to speak at their conference or by an alt med advocate to relate your experiences to a broadcast or film audience, would you do so? I’ll leave the question of money totally out of the picture. Would you write a book if asked by a publisher?

    Again, my regards.-btw- I am not a ‘sir’- my name is an anglicised form of Denise- I have no problems with people making that mistake, as long as they don’t do it when they meet me live ( no one ever has!)

  81. #81 Abraham Cherrix
    May 20, 2012

    Denice Walter,

    Ahh I must apologize, I’m notorious for mixing genders and names incorrectly.

    No data? There are many alternative practitioners, anyone could easily contact them for information or questioning. I think a more accurate way of putting that statement would be “not much publicized data”. There is indeed information, but mostly from the source.

    My answer to your question would depend on the group asking for my speech. I believe in health freedom, and I believe in everyone’s right to choose between alternative and mainstream medicine. So in the case of a generalized health freedom advocacy group, yes I would speak about my experiences.

    On the other hand, if the group was promoting a treatment, more scrutiny would be involved. As I said before in a previous post, I’m a critical thinker, so I would need to establish whether or not I believed in their treatment. To clarify, I’d be more inclined to say no, since promoting a treatment is about testing whether it works for you first. I would have no past experience with it.

  82. #82 Lawrence
    May 20, 2012

    @Abraham – best of luck to you. You need to remember, however, that the difference between “alternative” medicine and real medicine, is that real medicine is “proven” to work….

  83. #83 Science Mom
    May 20, 2012

    Mr. Cherrix, I’m pleased that you are doing so well however, I would like to address some fallacies in your statements.

    No data? There are many alternative practitioners, anyone could easily contact them for information or questioning. I think a more accurate way of putting that statement would be “not much publicized data”. There is indeed information, but mostly from the source.

    Anecdotes or personal testimonies are not data. Studies involving objective measurements, ample study groups and replication are data. These should involve peer-review and even outside investigator participation to eliminate as much bias as possible along with other measures such as blinding. You see when people seek out therapies, particularly those who fall into the “alternative is better” trap, they have already convinced themselves that it will work. Even when it doesn’t, which is most often the case, they convince themselves they made the best choice. We don’t like to be wrong; it is a human fallacy. The scientific method reduces human fallacy.

    My answer to your question would depend on the group asking for my speech. I believe in health freedom, and I believe in everyone’s right to choose between alternative and mainstream medicine. So in the case of a generalized health freedom advocacy group, yes I would speak about my experiences.

    So you must also support complete de-regulation of pharmaceuticals, supplements and medical devices. One should be consistent you know. And what will you do when you find out that the supplements you have been buying have been contaminated with dangerous levels of cadmium or lead or active pharmaceuticals? Who do you turn to when your prescription for an anti-emetic is contaminated with pseudomonas? You see it’s easy to preach from a place of privilege without thinking about the true ramifications of your actions. It is fine for a consenting adult to choose, even unwisely what they want as a modality, quite another to subject their children to their erroneous biases. And please don’t try to convince me that you haven’t been indoctrinated by your parents.

    On the other hand, if the group was promoting a treatment, more scrutiny would be involved. As I said before in a previous post, I’m a critical thinker, so I would need to establish whether or not I believed in their treatment. To clarify, I’d be more inclined to say no, since promoting a treatment is about testing whether it works for you first. I would have no past experience with it.

    I’m sorry but I have seen no critical-thinking on your part nor any scrutiny of the alternative therapies you have chosen. You don’t even demand properly-collected data; patient and physician testimony satisfy you. That is the very antithesis of critical-thinking. You, like so many others who worship CAM have convinced yourselves that you are critical because you have accepted the alternative method, because you are “open-minded”.

    I wish you continued good health and hope that you are able to investigate what true scepticism is and employ it prudently to your future decision-making.

  84. #84 Abraham Cherrix
    May 21, 2012

    Science Mom,

    I thank you for your articulate response, but I would like to address your concerns.

    Anecdotes or personal testimonies are not data. Studies involving objective measurements, ample study groups and replication are data. These should involve peer-review and even outside investigator participation to eliminate as much bias as possible along with other measures such as blinding. You see when people seek out therapies, particularly those who fall into the “alternative is better” trap, they have already convinced themselves that it will work. Even when it doesn’t, which is most often the case, they convince themselves they made the best choice. We don’t like to be wrong; it is a human fallacy. The scientific method reduces human fallacy.

    I could not agree with you more. However you’ve failed to grasp my point, which I’ve mentioned in several of my posts: I’m not saying there is not any scientific data on this. I’m saying you need to contact the sources to receive the data. You speak of my fallacy to provide proper study evidence, but I never once mentioned that it wasn’t available. I simply stated that I was not aware of the location of such evidences/studies, and contacting the main sources would be the best way to get any information… including resources.

    Case studies, peer review and replication of data implies that there is data to collect and people to study. Which, there is, for anyone willing to start a study. On that same note, there are also studies available from the source to receive if you take my suggestion and contact them.

    So you must also support complete de-regulation of pharmaceuticals, supplements and medical devices. One should be consistent you know. And what will you do when you find out that the supplements you have been buying have been contaminated with dangerous levels of cadmium or lead or active pharmaceuticals? Who do you turn to when your prescription for an anti-emetic is contaminated with pseudomonas? You see it’s easy to preach from a place of privilege without thinking about the true ramifications of your actions. It is fine for a consenting adult to choose, even unwisely what they want as a modality, quite another to subject their children to their erroneous biases. And please don’t try to convince me that you haven’t been indoctrinated by your parents.

    On the contrary, I am not required to believe in one treatment or another. Please note that I say “believe”, implying that when I say I “believe” alternative medicine works, I am doing just that. I also “believe” that modern medicine works, I simply know that it’s very harmful to one’s bodily functioning.

    My parents were Christians. I am not. My parents agreed to allow me to pursue my wishes to take alternative medicine. They did not “indoctrinate” me as you would probably like to believe. It would be a convenient argument though, wouldn’t it?

    I’m sorry but I have seen no critical-thinking on your part nor any scrutiny of the alternative therapies you have chosen. You don’t even demand properly-collected data; patient and physician testimony satisfy you. That is the very antithesis of critical-thinking. You, like so many others who worship CAM have convinced yourselves that you are critical because you have accepted the alternative method, because you are “open-minded”.

    Again, I must disagree with you. I do demand data on this subject, but I demand it from scientific officials who have yet to preform studies on the possibility of a cure for “incurable” diseases. You’d think the medical community would be testing left and right. Unfortunately, there are few tests and those that exist are inconclusive.

    I must also again point out that you are incorrect. I do not worship complimentary and alternative medicine, instead I acknowledge that it seems to have had profound effects on my body that vouch for it’s validity. A critical thinker will admit what he doesn’t know, and will not blindly follow anything. Your argument is very odd, since it involves a confliction between two scenarios:

    1. I was effected positively by alternative medicine.
    2. I was effected positively by a delayed reaction in modern medicine.

    Neither can be proven, so I can only assume that in my personal scenario (where I was progressively getting worse before better), the alternative medicine was the cause.

    The most logical assumption is to choose the most likely scenario. Which is what I have done.

    Again, I must also point out that I did not come here to argue my point as we’ve been doing, or to prove anything. I came here to correct a science-blogger who presented their community with inaccurate information about my life, well-being and beliefs.

  85. #85 JGC
    May 21, 2012

    1. I was effected positively by alternative medicine.

    You don’t actually know this though, do you? Clearly you believe that this is the case, but with an N = 1 there’s no way to determine if your positive outcome has anything to do with the herbal tonic you we prescribed or the alternative radiation therapy you received.

    You’d think the medical community would be testing left and right.

    Actually, I wouldn’t expect the medical community to be testing alternate treatment models left and right, unless there were already enough credible evidence to suggest the treatment was likely to be efficacious such that performing a large scale study represented a good use of limited resources. There simply isn’t enough time, money, trained clinicians, etc., to test everything, after all, so it’s imperative we pursue potential therapies which have the greatest likelihood of success.

    It’s the proponents of alternate treatments I’d expect to be conducting relatively large scale, well defined trials left and right in order to demonstrate that their proposed alternatives offered a good chance of success, if they truly believe what they offering has value. For themost part, however, they seem to leap immediately from “I’ve got an idea!” to ‘treating’ patients.

  86. #86 Todd W.
    May 21, 2012

    @Abraham Cherrix

    Your argument is very odd, since it involves a confliction between two scenarios:

    1. I was effected positively by alternative medicine.
    2. I was effected positively by a delayed reaction in modern medicine.

    Neither can be proven, so I can only assume that in my personal scenario (where I was progressively getting worse before better), the alternative medicine was the cause.

    You’re presenting a false dichotomy, assuming that the only two scenarios are either that the alt. med. worked or that the real medicine worked, but was delayed. You are ignoring these additional possibilities:

    3) You experienced a natural course of disease, wherein your condition naturally improved on its own, regardless of anything you or anyone else did. Any perceived connections, therefore, are merely coincidence.

    4) Some other unknown agent (i.e., not the real medicine you received nor the alt. med.) was the cause of your improvement.

    Given prior plausibility, the known evidence and these additional factors to consider, option 1 becomes a less likely contributor to your outcome.

    Doctors test mainstream medicine through funding, not out of their pockets. Most alternative practitioners to not have access to any major test funding.

    There are a number of sources for alt. med. practitioners to apply to for money to conduct studies. There’s this little institution that specifically focuses on alternative medicine. Perhaps you’ve heard of it, it’s called NCCAM (or the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine). There’s also the AlterMed Research Foundation, along with other public and private foundations. Then there are the corporations that produce alternative medicines. Companies are always looking at expanding their portfolios, not to mention expanding their name recognition through donations, etc. Oh, and then there are universities that support such research done by their staff. The funding is there if they take the time to actually look for it.

  87. #87 Chemmomo
    May 21, 2012

    Abraham, you’re still misunderstanding how the process works. You complain yet again (my emphasis)

    Again, I must disagree with you. I do demand data on this subject, but I demand it from scientific officials who have yet to preform studies on the possibility of a cure for “incurable” diseases. You’d think the medical community would be testing left and right.

    It’s up to the providers of the therapy in question to prove that it works.

    Scientific studies are funded by the investors of corporations and by government grants. Anyone can apply for a grant, and anyone can write a business plan and pitch it to venture capitalists. The funding is out there.

    I will repeat: It’s up to the providers of the therapy in question to perform the studies showing it works. If the providers are more interested in selling you the therapy than studying it, you need to ask yourself why you are assuming that it does work.

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