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BLOG: June 2009

Hodgkin's, kids, and the abuse of power

Daniel's case - True chances - Late effects - Mortality
Real picture - Hodgkin's kids - Alternatives

Considering very serious risks, and hardship involved with the conventional Hodgkin's treatment, shouldn't a child-patient be allowed option of an alternative non-invasive therapy first, leaving conventional treatment as the last resort? More so recognizing the fact that enforcing unwanted treatment, even at a price of separating child from parents at such a critical stage,

has major negative psychological impact on the child,

hence on its prospects for recovery as well.

Haven't we learned anything from Katie Wernecke's ordeal? For those not familiar with her story, the 13-year old from Corpus Christi, Texas, was diagnosed with Hodgkin's in January 2005. Katie's parents, Michelle and Edward, initially went along with with the conventional treatment that Katie was subjected to at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Huston.

But as the hospital was to add radiation to the ongoing chemotherapy, Katie's parents decided to stop the treatment. They learned that radiation significantly increases the risk of developing breast cancer, and can negatively affect growth and learning ability. They wanted to try alternative, non-invasive treatments first.

Their concerns are supported by research data. The risk of developing breast cancer is

57 times higher for woman subjected to the conventional treatment for Hodgkin's before age of 16,

within the following 17 years (Bhatia et al, 2003), or as much as 136 times higher for woman treated w/mantle radiation prior the age of 15 (Hancock, 1993). And, as we already know, the risk of suffering other serious diseases and/or premature death as a consequence of undergoing conventional treatment for Hodgkin's at an early age is also very real, and very high.

By any reasonable measure, these are very legitimate concerns. Despite that, the court sided with the state's CPS (Child Protection Services), which took Katie from their parents, placed her in a foster home, and made her continue conventional Hodgkin's treatment at M.D. Anderson. Katie's mother was arrested and jailed for trying to hide her on their family ranch in attempt to save her daughter from being forcefully subjected to toxic treatments.

During the following five months, Katie's health turned to the worse. While the treatment killed malignant mass in the middle of Katie's chest, she started having pain below her right lower ribs, right around the scar from chest tube that was inserted to drain water from her lungs (one of treatment side effects). An MRI showed large cancerous mass growing there.

Katie kept deteriorating, her official chances for survival plummeting from 80% to 20%.

    At this point, at the end of October, five months after placing her into CPS' custody, state district Judge Jack Hunter reversed court decision by ordering Katie to be returned to her parents, who were to take care of her from then on. It amounted to no more than an act of mercy, to let Katie die with her parents - but not before she undergoes another court-ordered 5-day bout of chemotherapy. The newspapers run headlines "Katie Wernecke can go home".

But Katie wouldn't die now. Out of hospital and toxic treatment that was "her only chance", she made a full recovery. It is not clear what alternative treatments her parents resorted to - intravenous vitamin C and immunotherapy were on the table, with radiation left as the last option - but Katie is today a healthy high-school student. Psychological scars and toxicity inflicted by treatment, though, will stay with her for the rest of her, hopefully long, life.

And so will not having her thymus gland anymore. It was removed by M.D. Anderson on June 30th 2005, without bothering to ask her ousted parents for consent.

Knowing how crucial is the thymus for the immune system functioning, one has to wonder

is there a limit to the stupidity arising from inherently fallacious way of treating illness by blindly trying to suppress its symptoms?

When Katie's father asked why did they remove her thymus, doctor at M.D. Anderson said: "She didn't need it.".

Another story is that of Starchild Abraham Cherrix from Virginia. In August 2005, then 16-year old was diagnosed with Hodgkin's, and went through a round of chemotherapy that was supposed to clear him from malignancy. It didn't. It made him so weak, though, that his father had to carry the handsome 6'1" toll teen from the car into their home.

When cancer reappeared in February 2006, the Abraham, backed by his family, refused to go through another, stronger round of chemo, as doctors wanted him to. Simply put, he feared he wouldn't have survived it. Instead, the family opted for non-invasive alternatives, namely Hoxsey herbal remedy - an immunotherapy now illegal in the U.S. but routinely practiced by a clinic in Mexico, where the family turned to for guidance - as well as organic diet.

What happened next is the Accomack County Department of Social Services taking Abraham's parents to court, accusing them of medical neglect, and requesting Abraham to be forced to undergo another, stronger round of chemotherapy. Initially, court

ordered Abraham's parents to give consent (!?)

for the chemo, also giving to the Department joint custody of their son.

Luckily, as public pressure mounted, the appeal court changed the lower-court decision into some sort of a compromise, returning Abraham to the custody of his parents and allowing him (!) to visit a board-certified oncologist of his choice for continued treatment. A sort of compromise ensued, with Abraham being allowed to go on with natural immunotherapy combined with reduced radiation treatment, under the supervision of his new, integrative oncologist.

Three years after, Abraham is cancer-free, without having to undergo forced toxic, debilitating treatment under the pretext of "child protection". His highly publicized story led to the new state law - Abraham's Law (HB 2314 /SB 905) - giving to Virginia teenagers 16 and older (Senate version; "mature enough" in the Congress version), and their parents, the right to refuse doctor-recommended treatment for life-threatening diseases, under condition that an alternative treatment must be commenced, and the decision must be made jointly with the child.

Katie and Abraham - and number of others - are living proof that lone conventional treatment for Hodgkin's is neither the only, nor the best option for children suffering from this disease. That integrative treatment for Hodgkin's, combining elements of conventional treatment with immunotherapy, healthy diet, detoxication and other non-invasive therapeutic options,

can and do work. 

In fact, various non-invasive treatments have saved many a cancer patient, including terminal cases left to die by the conventional medicine. That is indisputable, and can easily be documented. Why, then, conventional medicine never investigated any of these treatments? Why there is

not a single fair and thorough clinical trial

that would show specifically if, and how much the alternative treatments - beginning with healthy, organic diet combined with selective supplementation and efficient detox routine - can be effective in fighting cancers?

The answer is rather obvious. So that medical establishment can disqualify alternative treatments - even those with proven record of efficacy - by labeling them as "unscientific/quackery", "not documented", "ineffective", or "improper". And continue to dominate the field of medicine - and its market - with their kind of medicine.

And, by the way, their kind of medicine makes fortune to the pharmaceutical industry.

It doesn't come as a surprise that, according to the American Medical Association, the only scientific, efficient treatment for Hodgkin's lymphoma (and cancer in general) are chemotherapy, radiation and, when possible, surgery. 

In reality, there is a number of alternative, non-invasive treatments proven effective in fighting cancers. They work through the only really effective and safe "mechanism of action" - by

helping the body to get rid of cancer on its own.

Some of them would very likely be efficient against Hodgkin's lymphoma - if given chance. Considering that it would significantly lower toxicity of the present, conventional treatment for Hodgkin's, it is an alternative certainly worth pursuing - especially with children.

So let's take a brief look at some of those alternatives to the official toxic treatment for pediatric Hodgkin's disease.