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Abraham's journey

Medicine | After a court battle, a young Hodgkin's patient is allowed to avoid chemotherapy

Issue: "Stealth care," Sept. 16, 2006

The parents of a teenager who refuses chemotherapy for his Hodgkin's disease agreed in August to compromise with doctors and social workers who accused them of neglect. Sixteen-year-old Abraham Cherrix told his parents he could not cope again with the weakness, pain, and nausea he felt during his first round of chemotherapy about a year ago.

In lieu of further chemotherapy, his parents took him to a clinic in Tijuana, Mexico, to start him on an alternative therapy that involves drinking a concoction of licorice, red clover, burdock root, prickly ash bark, potassium iodide, and other plant ingredients. The U.S. government banned sale of the remedy-known by the name of its creator, Hoxsey-in 1960 after the FDA concluded it was ineffective and falsely advertised.

Earlier this summer, a judge ordered Abraham's parents to hand him over to a hospital in Norfolk, Va., for the treatment his doctor had ordered. The family's lawyers helped them get a stay to the order until a higher court's judge could rule on it.

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Abraham's father, Jay Cherrix, told a reporter with Media General News Service how his family decided to honor his son's wishes.

"I put him through the wringer on it because I wanted to see how serious he was," Cherrix said. "But if you really love somebody and you really, really try to be a good parent, then you're going to try to do whatever is necessary to find the best chance."

On Aug. 16, a judge approved a compromise between the Cherrixes and social services. Abraham does not have to receive chemotherapy, but he does have to get care from a reputable doctor. That doctor, whom the Cherrixes selected, is open to alternative treatments.

The decision appears to have pleased everyone involved in the case, especially Abraham. He announced the judgment on his website, abrahamsjourney.com, with capital letters and exclamation points: "CASE WON! The judge agreed to allow me to see an oncologist of my choice! My alternative treatments WILL continue. . . . Free, happy, and ready to live, that's me!" Abraham began alternative treatments in Mississippi late last month.

Making the Rounds

ADHD: Several drugs for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder will soon carry stern warnings, mandated by the FDA, about their potential to cause heart trouble and psychotic episodes. The medicines, which usually work by stimulating the central nervous system, can cause high blood pressure, aggression, psychotic behavior such as mania and hallucinations, and stunted growth. They can be especially harmful if taken by children with preexisting heart conditions. The CDC estimates 2.5 million U.S. children between ages 4 and 17 take medicine for ADHD.

ACNE: The high-risk acne drug Accutane is even more dangerous than doctors realized, according to a recent study. Known as the most powerful treatment for severe acne, Accutane can cause miscarriage, serious birth defects, high cholesterol, liver damage, and depression. The latest research shows that the drug causes elevated cholesterol and abnormal liver function in a higher percentage of patients than previously thought. Prescription information for Accutane states that 25 percent of people taking the drug have elevated triglycerides, a form of cholesterol, and 7 percent have higher total cholesterol. The new study, published in the August issue of the Archives of Dermatology, found that 44 percent of people on the drug had increased triglycerides, and 31 percent had higher total cholesterol.

Lynde Langdon
Lynde Langdon

Lynde lives in Wichita, Kan., with her husband and two daughters. She holds degrees from the University of Missouri in journalism, Russian, and business administration. She is in a long-term, committed relationship with the Lutheran church. Follow Lynde on Twitter @lmlangdon.

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