Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The Story of Abraham Cherrix - The Boy Who Refuses Chemo

This morning, as a matter of fact about right now, the court is going to rule whether a minor can make his own medical decisions.

I usually don't post about things as serious as this, but I don't think the world knows how enormous this court case is. If the court rules in favor of the child, it could change Virginia's laws permanently in regards to children making their own medical decisions.

But, this isn't a typical child. This is a boy who has gone through chemo for Hodgkins Disease that is tormenting his body. The doctors told him that not only is he going to get side effects from the chemo, but he has 25% chance of living.

This boy is only sixteen and mature enough to know what hurts his body and what heals.

His name is Abraham Cherrix and he lives about fifteen minutes from me on an island called Chincoteague, Virginia. Chincoteague is known for its wildlife, pastoral settings and enough fishing spots to keep any fisherman happy. Most years, 30,000 tourists visit Chincoteague during Pony Penning Week which is the last week of July and Marguerite Henry made the area famous by penning "Misty of Chincoteague" in which they made a movie on location many years ago.

The Cherrix family is a God-fearing family with morals and a strong family ties. All the children are home-schooled and all negative influences have been kept out of the family home. The children were brought up with utmost care and genuine love.

I met the Cherrix family years ago while waiting on tables in a local eating establishment. I fell in love with the kids and they reciprocated that love.

I watched the kids grow up and they were often the brunt of the many stories I would tell about how unique this family was. I always felt that this was the perfect family and while they had problems just like you and me, you never saw any of them. When they walked in the door, it was like a ray of sunshine had entered.

The family had stopped coming in due to the father's, Jay Cherrix, booming kayak business over on the island. I would see them now and then and they were still the happy family I always knew.

But, they held a secret...Abraham had cancer...Hodgkins Disease.

When Abraham's mother, Rose, sent me an email and told me, I thought my world was going to crumble. As I have a son with Marfans (a tissue-deteriorating disease), and as I had known Abraham and loved him deeply, I guess I might have been associating this tragic news with my own despair over my son having Marfans, who knows. But, the news sent a shock throughout my entire body. Tears welled and I will never forget that awful feeling when she told me.

Rose told me that the boy had gone through chemo and practically died. It was about then he decided to check around for alternative holistic and natural methods to cure a disease that has no cure.

Abraham has been in all the newspapers and a talk show in NY to try to get his word across. There have been cases where this method has cured its patients and he believes that God will get him through this, not some beauracratic establishment with rules and regulations is preventing him from keeping on with his program.

Yes, social services of the state of Virginia has taken the family to court, saying to stop chemo is child abuse.

And the Cherrix family is fighting it.

Today, if the court rules in the child's favor, this would allow any child in the state of Virginia to have that power to say no to any kind of medical treatment if he doesn't want it.

But, if the court rules in social services favor, I don't even want to think of what this is going to do to Abraham and his family.

And if social services wins and Abraham is forced to go through chemo, and he refuses, he will be taken from his family.

Here is a boy who has cancer, folks!!! Isn't it enough that he has to live with this torment? Leave the child alone!

I want to send all of you to a link. The link is www.abrahamsjourney.com and listen to the song that someone wrote about Abraham. You better have a box of tissues handy. The page is slow loading and looks like it doesn't work with the red x in the box at the top, but scroll down and wait for the song to load.

So, I wait the verdict. I'll let you know what happens. Should a minor be responsible for his own medical treatment? What are your views?

27 comments:

  1. I think, at his age, he knows what will happen if he refuses treatment, and is mature enough to make that decision. Shame on social services for putting this family through this stupidity!

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  2. Aye, we have even lost the right to govern our own bodies. Soon, we shall be told how to live in total. Seems to me there's somewhat 'bout that in the Bible.
    Let the lad be, Virginia; God takes care of His own, if we'd but get OUT OF HIS WAY.

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  3. Wow, that really is a ground-breaking case. I really do think that at that age, he should be able to make this decision. How sad that his parents have to spend this precious time fighting in court instead of just loving on their sick son

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  4. Thanks for the comments, Vixen and Steel! I haven't heard what the verdict is yet and I'm on pins and needles.

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  5. I would think that if the parents and the boy are in agreement that would be it. If the parents wanted the medical treatment while the boy didn't, then I then I guess that would be a reason for the court to get involved. It makes no sense for them to otherwise.

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  6. This is a novel suit. You'd think that the crux of the case would be that the PARENTS should have the right to decide treatment, since the parents and child are in agreement on this one. But that might also set a dangerous precedent when the parents and child are in disagreement, or when the parents are really abusing the child (even with good intentions, as in religion cases). I suppose they would have to set some sort of age limit on the child's ability to decide.

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  7. I have a fairly large readership on a homeschool blog, I've passed the word out to the homeschool community. This case has far reaching implications especially since the judge used the charge of "neglect" to allow the state partial custody. I saw the young man on the Today show. He is articulate and defends his position well. It is sad to me that in our day an age a 16 can get an abortion without parental consent, but a young man can't get medical treatment WITH parental consent. So much for Pro-choice and the right to privacy.

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  8. How sick that our social service systems don't believe children who really ARE being abused and leave them in terrible homes, yet they meddle in cases like these.

    God bless this family. I'll keep them in my prayers.

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  9. Thanks TC, Dick, Miss Cellania, and Cheryl. Yes, please keep this boy in your prayers. Believe me, he's one of a kind. And, Spunky, oh how i appreciate you doing this. Get the word out. Start a revolution if we have to. This is just so unjust.

    I just talked to his mother, Rose, and she said that he's going to be on Geraldo today and she hasn't heard word on the verdict yet. They are supposed to email her when they find out something.

    This family is going through so much...please, state of Virginia, don't allow this to happen one of our precious children. Keep him where he is happy so that his cancer will be cured.

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  10. Could you please email when you know the verdict? I want to get the word out as soon as possible. The email addy is

    spunkyhomeschool ---- AT --- Yahoo --- DOT --- Com (Take out the dashes and condense change the AT and DOT to the symbols. This helps prevent spam.)

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  11. My daughter was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma fifteen years ago. She underwent months of radiation treatments, and then when those failed to help, she was subjected to Chemo.
    She lost all of her hair, eyebrows, eyelashes, her long, thick beautiful hair, and for what? To be told that the Hodgkins was still there.
    Another doctor suggested a "new" treatment, what he called a bone marrow wash. In this procedure, 25% of the patients bone marrow is removed, washed and stored while the body is then subjected to 50times the normal dose of Chemo. After the chemo, the 'clean' bone marrow was then re-inserted into my daughter's body.
    IN the interview with the doctor, prior to the procedure, my daughter asked if there were any side effects or dangers. She was told that the was a one in fifteen thousand chance that she COULD develope septic shock.
    For my daughter,sick to death of the chemo and the radiation that left burn scars on her chest and neck, those were acceptable odds.
    One week after the procedure, my daughter died, cancer free, but dead never the less. For her, the cancer didn't kill her, the cure did.
    Wendy was twenty-four and the choice to go ahead with that procedure was hers to make, as it should be.
    I feel very strongly that Abraham has every right to decide his own treatment. I think at his age, he has enough intelligence to research his options with his parents and make an informed decision.
    I don't think any government agency has the right to dictate our treatment for diseases, nor do they have the right to interfere with our life and death decisions. Those decisions should be left strictly up to the patient, or as in Abraham's case, him and his parents.
    For my daughter, the decision to go ahead with the doctor's prescribed treatment signified the end of her young life.
    Sometimes, the treatment and the doctors are wrong.

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  12. The state has no right to determine medical treatment. Many of us have no confidence in mainstream medicine. In cases, such as cancer, the treatments can be tormenting. In many societies, a 16-year-old would be considered an adult. I wish him and his parents the very best. We all have a right to self-determination. State intrusion becomes stronger with every passing year. It's horrifying.

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  13. Thank you for your comments, Miki and Linda. Linda, I'm so sorry you and your daughter had to go through that. Sending you lots of love and healing energy, my friend.

    Spunky, I will surely email you when I find out. So far, no word yet. This is taking a while...guess it's not a cut and dry case here.

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  14. Dorothy,

    I read your article and the percentage given for the young man's survival should be considered...I'd say Abraham should be allowed to exercise his right to refuse the harsh treatment and spend his time as he wishes to seek whatever treatment he chooses that comforts him. and spend his time with his loving family.

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  15. I don't know how the laws work over there, but here in Australia a fifteen year old can legally leave school, leave home (even if they have no new home to go to) and the police and parents can't do anything about it. At 16, they can take driving lessons, potentially starting their driving careers and placing themselves or others in danger. In all of these cases, how well the situation turns out depends on the maturity and wisdom applied by the minor. In this situation, it sounds like Abraham knows the risks (no doubt he's seen others in his position use both treatments and this has factored into his decision making process) and is a mature young man who should be allowed the dignity of free-choice, something we all hold dear.
    Whichever way the decision goes today, I hope the family will continue to be strong and get through this terrible experience long after the dust settles.
    Heartfelt and postive thoughts for all involved,
    Caro

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  16. I think it is a tough issue. At his age, I think he understands the risks. If he and his parents are in agreement and understand his chances of survival, then I can understand his need to exercise his choice. My question is if this case will give parents more control. What happens if a child has no say? I can't believe Virginia, with this case, is going to strength the position of minors but rather a ruling would strengthen the rights of the parents.

    I wish him Godspeed whatever the outcome.

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  17. At his age, I believe Abraham is old enough to make his decision. I hope it works out for him.

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  18. I like that answer, Rene. Still no word about the verdict. I don't know what's taking so long. I'm going to watch the news tonight and hopefully they'll have something on there about it. If not, I'll call Rose in the morning and see if she's heard anything yet and I'll keep you guys informed. Of course, lol, unless the media beats me to it.

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  19. Keep in mind, it is his parents who are really making the decision. They decided to support his decision. If the parents opted to go with the treatment of the doctors he would then be fighting both his parents and the state. That would be a different case. His parents are the legal authority here. It was only through a charge of neglect that they were able to allow the state to gain joint custody.

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  20. Exactly, Spunky. And if you only knew these parents. They don't have a neglectful bone in their bodies. Beautiful people and you know what else I noticed? None of the kids argued. You could just feel the love. They were so supportive of each other, not like other kids who are so competitive of each other.

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  21. Thanks for stopping by our place, you're input is welcome anytime. We usually try to end each post with yet another mess the government has managed to make of our lives, our world and our environment. The story of this young man appalled us. Children's services should never have the right to make this families life or death decision. This young man is 16 yrs old and the choice should be made by he and his loved ones. Not a power hungry case worker.

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  22. If he was a small child, the situation would be different. But the family did the research and made the hard choices; the decision should be theirs alone.

    Like someone else said, there are many abused children who can't get help from protective services. In this case, the protective services are the abuser not the savior

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  23. It's horrifying that the State is getting into this. He's old enough and articulate enough to decide for himself. I wish Abraham and his family nothing but peace.

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  24. I am appalled at this. I am very distrustful of modern medicine myself, and if I had developed a serious disease as a teenager, my parents and I would have done the same, I'm sure. As many other people have said, I can see if the parents and child disagreed, but in this case it seems utterly ridiculous, and frankly, terrifying. My boyfriend's mom had cancer and she went with conventional treatment, and it did nothing for her, wrecked the rest of her body, and she had to endure completely callous treatment from the medical industry. I would only go with conventional treatment if I clearly needed surgery. Whether a person agrees with me or not, I should have that right--it's MY life--and so should this boy and his parents.

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  25. In this case, it seems cruel for Abraham to be denied his right to choose, as he seems to know what he wants and his family supports him.

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  26. I think it is equally disgraceful that the judge has delayed his decision. Let the boy get on with his life already. Enough is enough. Why delay it?

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  27. Terrible. It's a family matter for sure, up to the boy and his parents.

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