hauser1.jpgYou may have heard about this case–a 13-year-old boy, Daniel Hauser, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma and started chemo, but then his parents stopped treatment for religious reasons and said they’d be taking care of it naturally.

Well, a judge ordered the boy to get an x-ray and do chemo if his tumor had grown; he and his mom didn’t show up for court yesterday to hear the verdict–that Daniel’s cancer has worsened. His dad said he didn’t know where they were. Today there’s a nationwide warrant for their arrest.

One news article said that with chemo and radiation Daniel has a 90 percent survival rate; without it, 5 percent. The family practices Nemenhah Band, a religious group that takes some of its practicies from American Indians. The methods include supplements, diet changes, and sweat lodges to detoxify.

If they do find them authorities say Daniel will be placed in a foster home due to “medical neglect.” It all is obviosuly sad and crazy. Personally, I did chemo for my cancer despite my extreme misgivings about allopathic drugs. And I’m glad. But plenty of people eschew doctors’ orders for alternative care. Many are successful. Many are not. It’s their choice and I may not always “agree,” but I respect it. But they all have one thing in common–they’re grown-ups. 

The news articles about this are fascinating to me, most denigrating the decision by putting “natural” in quotation marks and almost all acting as if Daniel is an adult who has made a decision. I wonder: How much of this on the parents’ part is genuine religious devotion and a true belief in alternative medicine, and how much is a terrified reaction at seeing what chemo does to their son? Is it just a unique way to be in denial, keeping their son from the temporary harm of chemo while putting him at great risk?

No doubt they love their kid. But I’m with the judge on this. The kid needs chemo. But foster care? If they do get him into treatment, that just seems punitive and unnecessary.

What do you think about this case and natural cancer treatment in general?  


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