Saturday, July 22, 2006

Judge orders teen to cancer treatment

I read this headline this morning when I checked in on the Drudge Report. I find this immensely troubling.

Bill and I have a solid agreement that we will make individual decisions should we ever become ill with cancer. We have agreed not to force chemotherapy or radiation on the other. I have decided I will never have chemotherapy and he says, for now, that he will honor my wishes.

I think this 16 year old boy is mature enough to decide for himself what treatment he must endure. I guess, ideally, his parents have explained his options to him and he would rather go with alternative treatment. I think it should be his decision.

I've seen success with both types of treatments; but more often, I've seen people waste valuable time fighting cancer with chemotherapy and spending their dying days unable to function in any way. They are not able to enjoy the last days with their family because of the treatment, not the disease. They do not die with dignity.

One man I know was diagnosed with colon cancer and opted not to have chemo or radiation in order to buy time. He died so peacefully. He lost weight, but never got as sick as another friend, who did try radiation to prolong his time. Both these men were going to die from cancer, but the one who had treatment died a more horrible death.

What scares me with the state's forcing this boy into treatment is my fear that I will be forced to have treatment I don't want in order to prolong my life. I don't think the state has any right to interfere here.


Bookslinger said...

I think the solution would be for the parents and the teen to go to another judge who is sympathetic to the boy's decision, and make the teen an "emancipated minor." I think that would give him the legal rights of an adult, and the judge would then not have authority to force him into treatment.

White Man Retarded said...

Isn't that crazy? Our freedoms are slipping away little by little. I'm an R.N. and this goes against everything we are taught in school and practice. I'm all for alternative medicines and healing. Not to sound like a nut, but I wonder if the pharmaceutical companies have a hand in this. Cancer is big business, and if more people started doing what's right and also using natural cures (I don't know if they work or not), then alot of people stand to lose a lot of money. And think of the quality of life. What's the point of living through an obvious torture and possible permanent side effects of these extremely powerful drugs? Just sayin' (Ha, I ripped you off!)

Proud Daughter of Eve said...

While I also find the implications for personal freedoms troubling, this IS a 16-year old. I'd need to know more about what his prognosis is and what his family situation is like before I said anything defininative but my reaction is: he's not mature enough to make this kind of decision. Sixteen is not known for being a very mature age. If this same young man said he was mature enough to be a father or to live on his own, you'd be shaking your heads with that "Teenagers!" smile on your face. If the judge ordered him into chemo then I think that the doctors believe the chemo will save his life, not simply buy him time.

annegb said...

Yeah, Eve, you've got a point. And I want to know more. But if a teenage kid says "no, I choose not to suffer before I die," I'm listening. Life is over-rated, if it's filled with suffering.

I would certainly grant him the right to get 10 or 12 second opinions before I forced him into chemo. And then I think the judge should go through a few with him, then decide.

Because the court might think "hey we're saving your life" but there's the caveat, "we have to torture you first." I think a ten year old is old enough to say "Don't think that is much fun."

Patrick's right on as far as I'm concerned about quality of life. I've seen too many friends suffer till they died, no quality, but damn, the doctors bought them a few more months of misery.

My stepson had hodgkin's and he went through chemo and I respected him for it. The odds of a cure in his case were in the 90's. He's been in remission for 10 years. That was a win-win, that was right. Although I could not have done what he did.

I guess I need to know a little more about this boy. The one concern I have is if he has a highly curable disease like hodgkin's and his parents are brain-washing him into alternate treatments. That's an unnecessary death sentence. I realize the difference.

And yet, if I were 16, and I had to choose between death and suffering, shouldn't I have a say?

Bookslinger said...

I would want to know who the judge is getting his input from, whether it be the state's child welfare authorities or the actual doctors involved in the case. Child welfare departments, at the state level, sometimes have a history of over-stepping bounds in removing children from homes and interfering with parents.

But that then is the nature of the media. We hear about cases where child welfare did nothing and kids died needlessly, or the cases where the state over-reacts too far in the other direction.

annegb said...

I read last night that he has Hodgkin's. That sort of changes my point of view because the treatment is almost 100% effective. Very few people who are treated die of Hodgkin's.

The standard treatment, depending on the stage of his cancer (my stepson's was stage 4), is chemo once a week. It causes hair loss and nausea and weakness, of course, but even that isn't as bad as the things I've seen with other cancers.

He had treatments for three months. I'm surprised that the alternative practitioners even took him on, because my understanding was that they only treat people who haven't had chemo.

But this makes me wonder about his parents. Sorry, guys, I think I changed my mind. Because they must be highly ignorant. With Hodgkin's chemo is a sure cure.

Although it does have a high rate of recidivism and people will die from other types of cancers.

I would have a real moral dilemma if I got Hodgkin's knowing what I know, because refusing treatment is suicidal. I just hate to be nauseous.

That kid was halfway through his treatments. I can only think he complained of the symptoms and his parents felt sorry for him. I'm going to look further.

annegb said...

Oh, I meant once a week for 6 months. It's really pretty tame as far as chemo goes.

I did feel a chill, though, thinking what if I didn't want it and they made me have it.