Saturday, July 22, 2006

State of VA forcing a 16-year to receive chemo

Whether you believe in integrative medicine or not, this is a terrible situation.

16-year old Abraham Cherrix has cancer - Hodgkin’s. He responded poorly to chemo last summer and in fact believed that it was killing him. By the time he got home after the treatments, he couldn’t walk – his father would have to carry him into the house.

So he started to do research and decided to try a treatment (organic foods and herbal supplements – Hoxsey) in Mexico. His father, Jay, a bit skeptical, traveled with the then 15-year to Tijuana. When they returned, the parents talked to their son’s oncologist and told her that the family wanted to try an alternative therapy because the chemo was not working but wanted her to stay on and monitor the progress. She was very dismissive of their choice and told them she wanted no part of it. As soon as they left, she called family services.

Not long after, the family received a summons to family court where they erroneously thought they just needed to explain their course of treatment. They walked in with no legal representation and ultimately lost partial custody of Abraham (who was also under court orders to not leave the state of Virginia).

With the help of Sharon Smith, a local woman who read about them, the family attained lawyers and started to receive national media attention. )

They parents self-employed (run a kayaking business on an island on the Eastern Shore of VA) and do not have financial resources to undertake this type of battle so they are relying on donations and pro bono work.

The judge (who is a visiting judge, who’s expertise is real estate) was supposed to email his final ruling on Tuesday, July 18. It did not come and there was no explanation as to why or when it would be delivered. Would you be surprised to learn that the judge gave his ruling on Friday, July 21st at 5:20pm? That is a common trick that is used when people DO NOT want the media to pick up an item. It is very hard to generate action and attention over the weekend.

The judge ruled that the parents were neglectful and that they needed to go to the hospital by Tuesday, July 25th and sign the papers authorizing that the doctors could provide the treatment that they – as medical professionals – deem necessary.

We cannot allow this to happen. There are legal, PR, and legislative/political maneuvering that must start immediately.

We are working with the family and our general counsel, Mike Ruggio has been in discussion with the Cherrix’s lawyers. Additionally we are contacting members of Congress and the family has been visiting local representatives.

We will shortly have a plan of action for you and will need your support. Your voice, your outrage, your ideas, and your financial support are all greatly needed.
We will be updating the blog over the next few days with ways you can help and with any late breaking news.

Here are some of the recent news articles:

USA Today
Abraham's website (temporarily down due to exceeded bandwidth)

We believe our bill Access to Medical Treatment Act (HR 2792/S.2618) while addressing the issue in a peripheral manner, would not help Abraham directly because Mexico is not named as one of the countries. Though it would help other children and adults so please take a moment to support the bill.

Brenna Hill
Executive Director
Health Freedom Foundation and American Association for Health Freedom
4620 Lee Highway, Suite 210
Arlington, VA 22207
Fax: 703.294.6380


  1. Thank goodness you are addressing this issue. I've contacted several Health Freedom organizations on Abraham's behalf without any response. THANK YOU! I hope that people realize that this isn't an issue about cancer treatment. It's an issue of ' choice' of treatment and as a Natural healthcare provider, I cannot imagine forcing any type of treatment on my patient. I believe that much, if not most of our healing comes from our Faith in what we believe will work for us. Allopathic medicine has become quite invasive on many levels including personal choice. I don't like this, I am quite disturbed about this and very concerned for Abraham and his family and humanity!

  2. I, too, am a Complementary and Alternative Helthcare provider and a cancer survivor.

    For years, a subversive agenda undertaken by alopathic medicine, pharmaceutical companies and the far right, has been at work to erode an individual's choice to whatever treatments they believe will work for them.

    I had a classmate at chiropractic college who lost his young child to cancer in an almost identical scenario to Abraham. The chemo killed their child, yet they were court ordered to submit their child to this barbarically hellish treatment.

    Neither Abraham's parents nor my classmate were neglectful in any way to their children. Quite the opposite is true and their choices should be supported.

    This is an important issue to all Americans. The more our freedom to choose is eroded, we very probably could be forced to take part in the inconceivable; treatment that would be nothing more than human experimentation.

    We know that 1.5 million Americans are the victims of wrongly prescribed medication every year. Nearly a million are misdiagnosed and suffer severe damage or death as a result.

    If Abraham feels the chemo is killing him, he's probably right. We need to help him take back his freedom of choice.

  3. It is truly a shame that at 16 Abraham is not allowed to make his own medical choices.
    If he was 5 or 6 I might be able to understand the Judiciary stepping in on his behalf but not at 16.
    This is just plan wrong.

  4. I grew up surrounded by doctors, both in my family and in my freinds' family. My father, first a GP then a radiotherapist and radiologist (back when it was still called "Nuclear Medicine), was the first person to admit that medicine was not so much a science as an art. The purpose of medical school, he said, was to teach you just how stupid we all aa mre about what makes the human body work.

    In my own extended family, Dave, a man a few years younger than myself, is battling a strange form of renal cell cancer (rare in itself) that is growing swiftly rather than slowly (which is the norm). He and his wife have made it clear to every doctor, nurse, and medical aide in the hospital that he and she are the quarterbacks of this team, and everyone else advises first and then they are to take orders, not give them. The medical team -- M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, in Houston TX -- knows and understands this concept. Dave may not have long to live, but his quality of life is his choice, not his doctors'.

    Not knowing the specifics of Abraham's case, I don't know how serious his condition may be. I do know that quality of life is more important than so-called "expert opinions". No doctor who supports the Hippocratic Oath would consider this fair treatment under any circumsntances. It is my opinion that the doctor involved -- whose name may be made public only by the patient, if he wishes to do so -- should be censured by the state and federal medical agencies. Further, if I were Abraham and had friends and family outside the state, I'd take a nice little automobile ride this weekend; unless the Commonwealth of Virginia wishes to make this a federal case, he would be beyond their reach, indefinitely.

    Above all, this sort of madness must be challenged at every turn -- and, if at all possible, stopped. I find it oddly amusing to realize that, if the family had refused medial treatment for religious reasons, the current administration would probably be racing to the rescue.

    Let's all work to make it the patient and the family who make these decisions -- not the state, not the church, and especially not the medical community. Let's work for a truly great quality of life.

  5. Anonymous2:04 PM GMT-5

    I, too, am appalled at Abraham's situation so far. I became a natural health practitioner later in my life in order to 1. protect my family's health, and 2. to protest many conventional medical practices that are driven by pharmaceutical companies. I think that Abraham's plight is becoming a symbol for our right and freedom to have healthcare choice. We need to send positive thoughts to him and his family,and to remember, it could be any of us in this situation. Maybe this particular dilemma will finally mobilize the millions of Americans who use alternative and complementary therapies because they KNOW they help and do not have harmful side effects. It's a shame that conventional medicine has generally tried with all their might to suppress such valuable information (with powerful pharmaceutical companies' provocation and support). Remember, too, that many of these therapies have their roots in other countries and cultures which may further distress both conventional American medicine and drug companies.

    I'm hoping to see some integrative medical doctors step up and join this fight because they have credibility with the American public at the moment and are knowledgable, in varying degrees, about alternatives.

    More importantly, we must all become educated and learn to take our health back into our own hands. We often give our power away to medical practitioners, hoping they will do our thinking for us and heal us, so there is no wonder that we are in this sad predicament now.

    A really enlightening book I often suggest to others is Kenny Ausubel's book, When Healing Becomes a Crime (The Amazing Story of the Hoxsey Cancer Clinics and the Return of Alernative Therapies). Read it and learn why Abraham and his family chose the Hoxsey Clinic and why conventional medicine feels threatened by it. Know, also, that there are other herbal medicines that have cancer-killing properties as well as immune-boosting properties. Ethnobotanist Dr. James Duke's books, such as The Green Pharmacy, are also very informative.

    Finally, why was a judge who is a real estate expert, sitting on this case?

  6. Anonymous6:32 PM GMT-5

    Dr Max Gerson, a German MD in great standing in Europe, was curing cancer in the 1930's and 1940's. When he was forced to flee during WWII he came to America. He continued his work with much success. Many of his papers were published in Europe, but the AMA hampered all efforts here. Numerous times papers that were submited were never acknowledged by the authorities here. As though they never happened. Dr Gerson had a hearing by the Senate Subcommittee and demonstrated his results. (The hearing was very favorable) Most of his patients were terminal cases with no hope after going through surgery, chemo, and radiation, and the medical people had given them up to die. There have been many books since that time that have been written about the success of Dr Max Gerson with cancer. He was a MD, but included nutrition which was the key factor. The Gerson Institute can provide information. I think everyone should be familiar with the history whether they have cancer or not.

  7. My heart aches when I read the story of the 16 year old and his family. I am 19, and was 18 when my mom battled stage 4B breast cancer that spread everywhere and even went into the PANCREAS! she deat with so much, had to travel out of state (california) to get alternative non toxic therapies that eventually worked and to this day she is cancer free! there are si many other stories out there like ours. the poor state of integrative health freedom saddnes me, but stirs up something in me to somehow make a change, pass on information and spread knowledge or different ways of looking at the medical community. I wish I could generate a huge PR, media campaign, do an MTV news special, or do something to stir the hearts and minds of my apathetic generation who collectively know nothing about alternative medicine and how it has been given such a bad rap in the main stream media!!!!!

  8. I am highly thankful for this family standing ground. Health is a personal choice that should be governed by the own individual or if under age, by the parents.

    How can other individuals speak for the life of another? First Amendment? What about freedom of choice?

    America is supposed to be the 'land of the free' - what a crock that is turning out to be.

    I think the real fact of the matter is not the choice by the family but the power of the American Medical Association. The AMA is pushing very very hard to make it difficult for naturopathic physicians to gain licensure. The AMA knows there is mounting pressure against current medical practices and alternative medicine is booming full speed ahead with people happily recovering from their ills. (Alternative medicine is not alternative at all due to it being the first effective medicine in the world).

    I attend Bastyr University - the USA's most respected natural health university. I will be a ND end of June 2006 and I will face scrutiny my entire life by some medical professionals. That is fine.

    I must say that ND's and MD's here in Seattle get along quite well. We work with oncologists all the time communicating back and forth about the patient and determining what is best. That is how medicine should be done - a teamwork effort. MD's for the surgeries and major drugs if needed and the ND's for supportive therapies and sometimes the only therapy if not cancer. By law, in WA state, ND's cannot diagnose cancer nor work on a cancer patient solely. Which is fine - I respect that.

    I dont respect the court demanding this family to listen to one doctor who is likely being pushed by the AMA to fight this - and the judge is likely being pushed by the AMA also. I just bet this is happening behind the scenes.

    I will post this on my blog as well. Nice work for posting this.

    Abraham - you're a good man. Stand tall and set a precedence. Be well and kick ass.

    In health,

  9. Contrary to comments made by several posters here, it's not the AMA that is the primary driving force behind all this loss of freedom. IT'S THE PHARMACEUTICAL AND "HEALTH" INSURANCE COMPANIES AND THEIR LOBBYISTS! Of the nearly 1 million MD's in this country, less than 35,000 are AMA members.

    I deliberately placed health in quotes because it's a complete fallicy that they care anything about true health care. They are there for disease managment only.

    If you have a complicated disease or injury, you are far less likely to get proper, ocmprehensive care. You certainly won't be given much support (if any) to prevent the disease in the first place.

    I hold A DC, NMD and MSTCM. I grew up with a card-carrying member of the AMA (aka dad). I get great cooperation and respect from other MD's than I do from my male parent. He's so anti-alternative, that he never came to any of my graduations and hasn't spoken to me since the first one. Yet, we both took the hippocratic oath and swore to "Primum non nocere", "First, do no harm".

    I've been in practice for nearly 26 years, so I've seen many changes and battles.

    If Abraham leave the state of Virginia before his court appointed hospital appearance on Tuesday, he will be criminalized and could be jailed. So could his parents.

    That would serve no positive effect at all. Abraham could be denied proper allopathic carea and most definitely denied his right to alternatives. Losing access to his parents would most definitely cause his care to detereiorate.

    We must support Abraham and is parents to do things by the system. Fight this on legal ground, in the courts with the right counsel.

  10. Anonymous2:56 PM GMT-5

    i can not believe that our government is going to enforce the means of treatment on an America. America has been ste up on choices. This kid wants and believes in something you just can't take that away from him. Personally i agree with him. I am 17 and if i was diagnosed with cancer i guarentee that i would not be using chemotherepy. I am sorry but why would someone chose to put the very same chemical into there body that we used to kill the central powers in World War I. Come on people look at the statistics people don't die of cancer they die of the chemotherepy(mustard gas) Our government and scientists need to just get off there high horse and research hoxsey so we can end this fued between roots and bacteria.

    Stay strong your in my prayers