Thursday, August 17, 2006

let him die if he wants

From Science Blogs, we get an updated story on the dumb ass hippy family that doesn't accept the accepted medicine. We got this story hot not so long ago, the story of the sixteen year old with lymphoma who prefers drinking root tea as opposed to medicine with actual evidence as to its efficacy.

Seems this fellow was really unhappy with his original round of chemotherapy. He didn't enjoy it, but I don't know that I've ever heard of anyone enjoying chemo. Apparently it was so bad, and he's so smart, that the family has decided to he will undergo an alternative treatment.

When I first heard this story, I was a little unsure of my exact opinion in the matter. On the one hand, sixteen isn't an adult unless you murdered someone. Even then you don't get to vote or buy cigarettes or drink alcohol. Sixteen year old kids make bad and ill informed decisions constantly while at the same time being certain that they are the fountains of all the world's knowledge. There's no indignation like youthful certainty. On the other hand, where does the state get off trying to force medical treatment on anyone ever? I seem to remember having certain inalienable rights.

I feel for this idiot kid and his idiot parents. They don't care much for evidence apparently, but when you choose to forego proof in favor of faith and hope and wishing in one hand, you get what you deserve. And I have no doubt that this kid will be dead soon. But along with our other rights, I believe that we have a right to seek the medical care that we choose. We may not like it, but we have no right to insert our desires into this family's life, whether or not we are 100% certain that they are signing the child's death sentence. Besides, none of us make it out alive; some of us just don't make it out alive quicker.

I dread these situations. No family has ever expected the sicknesses that some of our children must face, and there are so many sick children around the world facing unimaginable sickness and disease. I can only imagine what I would do if either of my children were faced with something so awful as cancer. I would expect that I would seek out doctors that were respected by their peers (not that that is indicative of anything) and I would seek out proven treatments. I don't know that I would drive to Tijuana for a "natural remedy" cocktail of roots and leaves and horse's ass. If I had actually used up every single other avenue, and if I were certain that the "natural remedy" were my last and only glimmer of hope . . . I'd think that the ends of the earth would be mere speed bumps in my drive to save my children. But I'd start out with the doctors and scientists whose life work is proving techniques.

Finally, as I stated in my last post about this hippy family. If the alternative treatment works, then why do they have to go to that most medically advanced of countries, Mexico? Don't get me wrong, I love Mexico, the food, the people. I don't see them having advanced their medicine more than we in the US. But if this therapy works, why aren't we upset that it's being kept away from us?


Christine G said...

Don't be so quick to write off alternative therapies. I (as a nurse) took care of a woman who was diagnosed with terminal breast cancer with two months to live. Written off by medical specialists. Her and her husband went all over seeking out alternative treatments. I met her 12 years later.

I also have an aunt that had colon cancer with a poor prognosis. She used surgery, chemo, radiation, and alternative therapies (metaphysical healer, reiki, meditation, hypnosis, herbs, mega vitamin supplements, god knows what else) and she's still here 7 years later.

If it were me, I would think that I would do both traditional and alternative medicine, whatever it took. But that should be my choice. You're right, no one should have to fight the government for the right to persue or not persue their own course of treatment.

Ren said...

My Mom's cancer was under control the entire time she was on alternative therapies. She wasn't looking for a cure, just longer life. After she went to the chemo/modern shit, she was dead within a year.

"On the other hand, where does the state get off trying to force medical treatment on anyone ever? "

Exactly. That's the bottom line for me. When in the hell does the government have ANY say over medical care? That's a personal choice and should be honored regardless of personal beliefs.

Our dear friend Hannah Jenner (9.5y.o) was diagnosed with Leukemia in Feb. She started with all the modern stuff (and her mama filling her up with healthy vitamins and herbs on the side) and died within a WEEK. There are no guarantees in this life. People should have freedom to choose what happens to their bodies.

I agree with the first poster that I would probably use the best of both modern and traditional medicines. Many doctors are more aware of the alternative therapies that actually have value these and learn.