Wednesday, June 15, 2005

We know best...

Don't question us

From an e-newsletter I get:
Dear Reader,

I am furious!

You can underline that twice and add as many more exclamation points as you like.

If you haven't heard the most recent developments in the story of Katie Wernecke, the young Texas girl with Hodgkin's disease who was taken from her home and family last week, I think you may be furious too when you find out how easy it is for a state agency to remove a child from her parents' custody based on nothing more than an absurdly narrow mainstream view of cancer treatment.

Who's the boss?

There's a knock on the door. State authorities present a court order to remove your child in order to give her radiation treatment contrary to your clearly expressed wishes.

The fact that neither you nor the child have agreed to the treatments is irrelevant. The fact that you have previously agreed to intensive chemotherapy treatments to address your daughter's Hodgkin's disease is irrelevant. The fact that you have requested an additional opinion regarding the radiation is irrelevant. And the fact that you have expressed a desire to find a safe alternative to radiation treatments could hardly be less relevant.

This is how the medical mainstream shows you who's boss. They take away the child you nursed through months of difficult chemo treatments. In fact, they take all four of your children for relocation in a foster home because your attitude toward radiation now qualifies you as an unfit parent. And they arrest you for interfering with Child Protection Services (CPS).

This sad scenario was recently played out in a small town in south Texas where Michele and Edward Wernecke have tried to protect their daughter Katie from one of the harshest therapies in the medical world. After controlling a tumor in Katie's chest with an intensive round of chemotherapy, her doctor prescribed radiation, strictly as a preventive measure.

The possible long-range side effects of radiation in the upper body include damage to the heart muscle, lungs, spine and thyroid gland, a high risk of breast cancer and potential disruption of hormonal activity.

Taste of his own medicine

After getting a second opinion, Michele and Edward were rebuffed when they expressed an interest in exploring alternative therapies that might be safer than radiation. Furthermore, they were informed that they had no choice in the matter. That's when Michele took Katie to a family member's farm. When the mother and daughter couldn't be found at their home, CPS authorities issued an Amber Alert.

Imagine being treated no differently than a kidnapper or a child molester for simply refusing a prescribed treatment and taking steps to protect your child.

Keep in mind that the Werneckes had not denied treatment for their daughter. They were merely questioning the use of radiation as an additional preventive treatment. The Werneckes believed they would be able to exercise their right to weigh the benefit/risk ratio and come to their own conclusion about how best to treat their daughter.

Before push came to shove and Michele was arrested, Katie and her mom made a video in which they explained why they wanted to avoid the radiation treatment. I saw the tape on a morning news show last week. Katie, who appears to be a very self-possessed young woman (she managed to earn straight As in school while undergoing chemo), states, "I have been fine for two months since my last chemo treatment. I am gaining weight and my hair is coming back. I feel great. I don't need radiation treatment. And nobody asked me what I wanted. It's my body."

Having been told that the risks involved with radiation are very small, Katie suggests on the video that her doctor undergo radiation treatment himself to prove it's safe.

No word on her doctor's response. I'm betting he'll take a pass.

Arrogance plus power

Last Friday, during a court proceeding that was intended to weigh the radiation option, Katie's doctors revealed that her cancer had become active again. This was a blow to the Werneckes who immediately agreed to go ahead with further chemotherapy treatments. (They had not previously been told that chemo, instead of radiation, was an option open to them.)

Some might see this development as a vindication of the doctors. I see it as a vindication of the Werneckes.

When the Werneckes were wary of bombarding their young daughter's chest with radiation as a preventive measure they were treated like dangerous fools. The state decided they were a hazard and took their children away - a deeply traumatic act for both parents and kids (especially a child recovering from cancer) - but it was all for the best, according to Texas CPS.

When the Werneckes were told that Katie's cancer was no longer in remission, did they stubbornly dig in and refuse treatment? Did they vow to fight the doctors, no matter what? No. Once they were given clear evidence that treatment was necessary, they agreed she should receive the same treatment that had previously been effective. In other words, their behavior was the exact opposite of the way their behavior had been portrayed by Katie's doctor and the authorities at CPS.

Katie's three brothers returned home shortly after the Friday court appearance. At this time it's unclear when Katie may be reunited with her family. She's expected to receive chemotherapy sometime this week.

Whatever the future may hold for Katie, her parents and her brothers, their experience has demonstrated just how arrogant and powerful those in the medical mainstream can be when someone dares question their authority.

Heaven help them if they ever came to my door like that...

What would have happened if they hadn't told the Werneckes that Katie's cancer had returned? (I don't think I would have taken that doctor's word on anything ever again...) Would they have forcibly given Katie the radiation therapy? Diptard...that doctor should be shoved in a large microwave.

I'll say it again: I'll NEVER do chemo/radiation. Period. Quality of life following the "treatment" is reduced, and as the chemicals and radiation do serious damage to the immune system, the cancer is quite likely to return with a vengeance. There are natural treatments that are much healthier and more likely to result in a successful outcome (cancer gone forever).

Go to Scroll down a bit to "Politics, Money and Cancer", and see what you think.