My fellow SciBling Orac has commented once again on the case of Starchild Abraham Cherrix, the 17 year old man with relapsed Hodgkin lymphoma who rejected potentially curative therapy (called "stem cell transplantation") in favor of alternative/unproven therapy and localized radiation therapy. According to interviews Mr. Cherrix and his radiation oncologist have given to the AP (why a patient would let his oncologist continue to spill such intimate details of a controversial treatment to the mainstream media is beyond me - doesn't anyone value privacy anymore?), his latest x-rays show that all of the previously documented tumors are now not visible.
This is great news. Let's hope and pray that it lasts.
Of course, not being an alternative/unproven therapy expert, if I saw Mr. Cherrix in consultation I wouldn't have much to say about the Hoxsey therapy, etc., that he is receiving, but I certainly would give him my opinion about his options for future care.
My advice to Mr. Cherrix at this time would be this:
"If the day ever comes where someone tells you that your Hodgkin lymphoma is back, I want you to think very hard about what you want done to your body. Ask, 'Does it make sense for me to continue receiving the current alternative therapy I'm on?' Ask, 'Would more radiation provide me with any meaningful benefit, such as prolongation of my life?' Ask, 'Are there any new treatments out there that have been shown to be of value to patients with relapsed Hodgkin lymphoma?'
"Also, and most importantly, even though you have rejected chemotherapy as a salvage treatment, don't ever forget that you have the right to change your mind. If you ever came to me and said, 'I want to know what standard therapy (such as chemotherapy, experimental targeted therapy or a stem cell transplant) can do for me,' I'd give you the straight information.
"If your disease ever returns and you are more interested in the quality of your remaining life rather than its length, don't feel guilty about refusing to take any further anti-cancer therapy. No matter what anyone says, it is your life to live. However, should you wish to extend your time on Earth, you should be as selfish as possible when considering what treatment to take for another relapse. Don't just automatically let a medical provider sell you on a treatment that has absolutely no chance to prevent your death from Hodgkin lymphoma. Why settle for any outcome less than total cure?
"No matter what happens I respect you and your opinions, and will faithfully honor your decisions regarding your health. I'm here to help in any way I can.
"Just don't ask me to live in a world where truth is renounced and falsehoods are honored for their perverse inspiration."
find a way to email or hardcopy this to him. he needs to hear this kind of well-put, expert advice much more than he needs to hear people like me yelling at him for being such a stupid fuck.
Before I made a decision about something like this, I would want to know what the statistical survival rates were for th different kinds of treatment.
Well said. He probably has had so many people pulling him in so many directions for their own purposes that I'll bet he would have been very receptive to hearing this sincerely expressed by someone on his medical team early on. In fact, I'll bet he would still appreciate hearing it.
Not saying it would have changed his decisions, or that it would even change his decisions now and going forward (then again who knows?), but I'll bet he would appreciate having someone with expertise he could rely upon to provide good inputs to inform his decision making, to help him determine the right questions to elicit the data he needs to establish priorities, weigh options, evidence, probabilities associated with various outcomes, etc. Obviously, the stakes are high and he needs to get good information delivered without any agenda other than an honest effort toward delivering truthful information with maximium compassion and minimal spin to enable clear-headed decisions.
But for now, he's back in remission. Let's hope it lasts long enough that he can begin to live a life that is less than 100% focused on cancer for a while.