In a bizarre post at Salon, Rahul K. Parikh, M.D. says we shouldn’t judge a family that is on the lam, so that their 13 year old son won’t have to experience the hell of chemotherapy treatments for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma:
The story of Daniel Hauser, a 13-year-old boy from Minnesota with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, became tabloid fodder overnight. The boy and his mother are on the lam because the mother refuses, because of her beliefs, to authorize chemotherapy treatments for her son. Hodgkin’s lymphoma has a 90 percent cure rate with chemotherapy, and a 95 percent chance of killing a person without it. Chemotherapy will likely save Daniel’s life, and as a pediatrician I wouldn’t hesitate for a moment to recommend it.
But I would also like to turn down the volume on the talk-radio chatter and outraged editorials. That’s because nobody seems to be talking about what it takes to beat Hodgkin’s (or any other cancer). What it takes is a grueling regimen that can indeed give even a dying person pause. In fact, the Hausers didn’t refuse chemotherapy outright. They defied doctors and a judge’s ruling only after Daniel experienced some of its violent effects following one round. If you don’t understand why, listen to my friend, Arun Ponnusamy, 36, who beat acute lymphocytic leukemia. “Surviving cancer is one thing,” he says. “Surviving chemotherapy is another thing entirely.”
I call bullshit. First of all, every type of cancer has a different chemo regimen, and because the bulk of his post is actually about Ponnusamy’s treatments, to have any credibility, Parikh must first explain the similarities between Ponnusamy’s cancer and Hauser’s. But more directly to the point, and in direct contrast to Parikh’s absurd approach, we’re talking about saving the life of a child. Hodgkin’s treatments are brutal, but they usually “cure” the cancer. As in giving the kid a chance at a full life. Which makes enduring probably 12 cycles of chemotherapy not such a terrible prospect. I would know. I am a Hodgkin’s survivor.