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Are Courts Right to ForceCancer Treatment on Teen?

Posted Sep 13 2008 3:04pm

I’m a strong believer in science. As far as I’m concerned, there is a rational explanation for everything, even if it seems unsolvable at first.

So growing up, I naturally identified with technology and medicine, which fit my logical and orderly ways of thinking. When my dad died at the hands of mistakes made by doctors, I rationalized it wasn’t the science that was bad, but incompetent, egotistical practitioners that explained failures in medicine.

While individual doctors may be to blame in my dad’s case, I’m only just beginning to grasp that Western medical science is seriously flawed. Let me rephrase that: the politics of money distort medical science to such an extent that the Western medical complex exists to serve its own interests rather than patients.

Can I prove this? Not easily. I would have to dedicate years of my life to show how the most revealing medical research gets buried by arcane publishing rules and how the industry becomes distorted by powerful interests such as the food industry.

A good example of this is Thomas Campbell’s book, The China Study. Campbell’s thesis is that the more artificial chemicals and meat we eat, the sicker we get. A second, more insidious argument goes like this: medical and nutritional experts have known what was wrong with food for decades, but allowed business interests to simply ignore the science.

Campbell is a Cornell expert on nutrition who is strongly linked to the vegan movement. Campbell’s research has led him to believe there is little to no safe amount of animal protein in our diets.

Campbell is part of a growing, yet disparate movement, that recognizes “accepted” medical science and nutrition are deeply flawed. While those on the vanguard of this movement range from journalists to doctors, the essential thesis is the same: eating organic whole foods, with a small or no amount of meat, is better medicine than waiting until illness steals away good health. While Western medicine may help us fight off cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease, it is far preferable to never get them in the first place. Some of these authors also believe that these diseases can be better treated through a change in diet rather than through Western medicine.

I don’t recall seeing any studies comparing efficacy of a whole foods diet against modern medicine in treating cancer in humans. (Though Campbell does present a study that shows cancer in rats can be stopped by cutting animal protein from their diet.) Probably such studies exist, but my access to medical research is limited because of time and money (these journals are expen$ive.)

If I was to develop cancer, I am not sure what my treatment course would be. After all, I already eat an organic, whole foods diet. I’m even less sure what I would do if my children developed one of these horrible diseases.

One Virginia family made their choice, preferring to not rely on Western medicine. Instead, they traveled to a Mexico clinic that relies on herbal supplements and an organic diet, reports Food Consumer.org. The 16-year-old boy, Abraham Cherrix, underwent painful treatment once before for Hodgkin’s disease, but he insisted on herbal treatment after the disease returned.

A judge did not like that one bit, and ordered the Accomack County Department of Social Services take partial custody of Abraham. The judge determined the parents were neglectful by allowing the teen to pursue alternative treatment.

That’s interesting, because I presume the cost of this treatment was completely out of pocket for the Cherrix family. Abraham has appeared on several TV news networks – which I have not seen – to make his case, reports Virginia Pilot.

Here’s what the boy told the UK Mirror last week:

The first round of chemo almost killed me. There were nights when I didn’t know if I’d make it. Another round at higher doses would kill me, no joke about it.

To be honest, I don’t know which route is the best for the boy. As several stories mentioned, Western treatment of this illness has been more successful than other treatments. Studies indicate that children suffering from cancer seem to fair better under Western treatment than adults. Doctors report Abraham’s cancer worsened while in Mexico.

But I wonder about forcing a 16-year-old to suffer incredibly painful treatments through court fiat. The courts have rarely hesitated to force life-saving antibiotics into children when parents balked, but forcing a severely painful regimen is another matter.

In the meantime, it seems incumbent on Western medicine to fully explore whether diet can be used to control some cancers. I’m not sure that can happen with the pharmaceutical and food industries throwing money at bureaucrats, politicians and scientists, but the research needs to be done, and right quick.

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