Wednesday, July 26, 2006


A judge in Virginia has has ruled that the 16 year old cancer patient in my last entry doesn't have to report to a hospital to begin another round of conventional treatment. From what I understand from the story in the paper, both sides will take the disagreement to trial.

I'm still shocked that anyone would order a patient to undergo a treatment that could be fatal, cause other cancers over time, and have other severe side effects. Apparently the 80% plus survival rate is for one year. After three years the survival rate goes down to the low to mid 60's. I haven't found any firm numbers for survival rates after the cancer recurs but the ones I have found are below 50%.

 This emphasis on keeping the body alive longer, even if that life isn't one you'd want to live really troubles me. Yippee skippee, we kept you alive a year or two longer, sorry you spent half that time throwing up and were too miserable to enjoy it, but hey you're still breathing and that's all that counts.

I've heard the religious right blamed for this attitude, and that is partly true. But I believe there's big strand of overcoming the odds, win at all costs, don't give up, stick it out, stay the course, suck it up, that is part of our mainstream culture. A gigantic part, just look at the Middle East. Or all the ads for over the counter cold and flu medications for that matter. God forbid you should take a day or two off from work to get over a cold or the flu. Getting sick is almost sinful, not to mention unproductive.

I saw a few posts that equated the kid's decision with suicide but far more that basically called him a wimp. Ah gee, you didn't feel good the last time, too darn bad you little wuss. I've never undergone chemo, but I understand it can go far beyond "not feeling good." As in throwing up your last toenail, you're too weak to move and just about the time you start even thinking about feeling human they give you another dose and it starts all over again.

And this "letting the side down" attitude. As if it somehow made them look bad in some way. And we won't even go into equating being home schooled with being stupid. Arrrrrrrgh!

So here's a point or two for those of us who may march to a slightly different drummer and believe that what you do with your days is what's important, not how many you have.


visionarydiva1 said...

I am going to have to head over to read about this. Thanks for updating


tenyearnap said...

A trial doesn't sound healthy for this boy, either. He needs to be able to concentrate on the rest of his life, not defending the way he chose to live it. Sad, indeed.