Tuesday, May 26, 2009

What do you think of patient rights?

I debated writing about this topic because I'm not sure how political I want to get on my blog, but I feel very strongly about this issue and so I need to say something.

How many of you have heard about the 13 year old Minnesota boy who refused chemo and later tried to run away with his mom? It's been all over the news, here's a link from Yahoo news. Basically this boy had Hodgkins Lymphoma. Doctors claim that he can be cured if he undergoes chemotherapy, but the boy and his parents would rather go with alternative treatments to the cancer. They are involved through some court proceedings where the judge was supposed to rule over what should happen to the boy-- the state was even threatening to remove him from his home. As a result, the boy and his mom fled the state, but have now returned because they threatened her arrest.

Now, I just read that the judge ruled that the boy should see an oncologist and follow the treatment that they deem is best and of course the parents are agreeing to this because they don't want their son to be sent to a foster home.

I don't know how many of you have every dealt with cancer before, but someone very close to me died from it some years ago. Many of us live with the notion that we have complete freedom over our bodies and can choose what is done to them. We also like to think that as long as we are loving parents, our kids will be granted those same rights and freedoms. However, that's not always the case. If you're affected by cancer, you're free to do what you will as long as it follows procedure-- mainly surgery, chemo, or radiation. That's it! There are so many other alternative treatments out there and yet so many people don't have access to them because 1) health insurance won't cover it, 2) doctors won't approve them for the procedure, or 3) judges and social workers threaten to take your kids away if you don't follow the rules. Other times, patients are told that as long as they undergo chemo and radiation first, then they can use their alternative treatment, but by then it's too late-- almost like adding sugar to a cake after it's been baked!

I know what you're thinking, and I'm not proposing that everybody be forced to undergo alternative treatments. Obviously they are called alternative treatments for a reason, but the reason why having a choice is so crucial is because it's your body or your child's body. Chemotherapy and radiation are horrible treatments that do terrible things to your body-- some of the so-called side-effects make the quality of life worse than it would be with the cancer alone and often times the patients still die from cancer that has mutated (and thus become stronger than the chemo) and spread to other parts of the body.

Look, I don't propose to be an expert on this topic, but I do know that everybody should have a choice. With so many options out there, why should a mother resort to running away just so that her child can get the treatment that she thinks is best for him? What good is it to do all this research on different cancer treatments and spend millions of dollars every year on it, when many of these treatments will never be used by the people who most desperately need them?

My next post will hopefully be about something happier, but tell me what are your thoughts on this case?

No comments:

Post a Comment