I have spent a lot of time thinking about, and respectfully debating, the story of Cassandra, the 17-year-old who has been forced to have chemotherapy for her Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. I feel like I’m back in Medical Ethics class in college where we hotly debated “the right thing to do” in a variety of medical situations. I remember those awful exercises where you had a list of 50 very diverse people and you had to pick which 10 people should survive in some horrid life and death situation. (You’re all in a boat and there’s only enough provisions for 10 to survive… who lives?) We learned to look at all sides of the issue, and it was never an easy call.
So looking at Cassandra’s situation, I can see both sides of the equation. Those who believe chemotherapy is the only answer to her survival. Those who want to do everything they know how to save this girl. And I understand that we don’t know all the facts of the situation: is Cassandra mature enough? Is Mom neglectful? What is Cassandra’s mental state? Is she depressed? Is there some pressure from Mom here? Are they seeking alternative treatments? There are so many unanswered questions.
But no matter how many ways I look at this, I just cannot wrap my head around the fact that a person can be forced to have chemotherapy. Forced to have a needle stuck in her arm and forced to have poison put in her body. (Don’t let anybody trick you into thinking this is “medicine”.) Forced to endure the side effects and the risks. I am really struggling with the “forced” treatment. It sounds like something from a bad sci-fi novel.
I was asked “what if she was age 3 and not 17?” and “what if it was your child and you knew there was an 85% chance of a cure?”. Maybe it would change my opinion. But maybe not. I don’t think we can judge unless we are the shoes of Cassandra and her Mom. Yes, there is a risk she will die without it. And yes, there is a risk that she will die with it. Chemo is not a guarantee of a cure. In fact there is no guarantee that you won’t die from the chemo itself. Or that you won’t die from other side effects down the road.
I’ve read enough books to know that there are alternatives. Were those alternatives being pursued or not is still unknown, but if they were, then they should be allowed to pursue them. Our medical community is still brainwashing people that chemo is the only choice. And that’s not true. There are hundreds of doctors across the country treating cancer differently (just read Knock Out to learn more) and, of course, there is diet (check out Gerson Therapy and Chris Beat Cancer).
I’m not saying I would definitely for or against chemotherapy if it was my child. I hope I never have to make that kind of choice (and I do everything I can now to try to prevent cancer by ensuring my family eats a nutritious diet). Unless I was in their shoes, I can’t say what I would do. I can’t judge. I just really struggle with the fact that the courts can force an unwanted and dangerous treatment on someone.
I’d love to hear some other opinions, especially from my fellow warriors out there.
On a lighter note… This week I’m cooking from my new Oh She Glows Cookbook!
For dinner tonight: Luxurious Tomato-Basil Pasta. Delicious! This got a “LOVE” from both Ethan and David. I found it absolutely addictive. I doubled the recipe so I could make it with a full pound of pasta. It’s similar to a recipe is the Isa Does It cookbook, but we liked this Oh She Glows better. Here’s a variation on the recipe from her blog.
IMDb: A Question of Ethics (1992)