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A 17-year old is being forced to receive chemotherapy that is guaranteed to cause her premature death. Will you stand up to save her?
Background: The Connecticut Supreme Court ruled on Jan. 8th that a teenger diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma who declined treatment with chemotherapy will be made to undergo treatment anyway. The 17-year old female, who cited chemotherapy's adverse health effects as her primary reason for refusing, is now in protective custody at Connecticut hospital where she will be forced to undergo treatment against her will, and the will of her mother, her legal guardian, who supported her decision.
The latest case of forced chemotherapy by the State of Connecticut has raised a number of highly concerning legal issues simultaneously, primarily: the "mature minor doctrine", parental rights, and the right to make medical decisions.
According to USlegal.com the mature minor doctrine "provides for minors to give consent to medical procedures if they can show that they are mature enough to make a decision on their own." The court order ruled that the 17-year old, referred to as Casandra S in the court document, was not fit to make medical decisions for herself, making it a moot point.
While it is within the court's legal right to deny her decision-making capability, nowhere is the issue of parental rights addressed in this case. Instead, the court deferred to what are known as 'legislative findings of medical fact,' i.e. they assumed that the government's views on chemotherapy as 'life saving' is true, evidence-based and sufficent reason for refusing the young woman and her mother the right to decline chemotherapy for Hodgkin's lymphoma.
Deference to legislative findings of medical fact is a highly contentious concept within constitutional law, and has been reviewed in depth in a legal document titled, "The Constitutional Right to Make Medical Treatment Decisions: A Tale of Two Doctrines," wherein it was concluded:
"This Article concludes that a constitutional right to protect one's health should be consistently recognized; that the recognition of this right should not be artificially limited by excessive deference to legislative findings of medical fact; and that this right will have to be carefully balanced against the state's real and legitimate interest in regulating the practice of medicine to protect the public."
The document also reveals that the Constitution protects individuals from State enforced medical intervention:
"In 1958, in a mostly forgotten case, the Fifth Circuit sweepingly pronounced that, under the Fourteenth Amendment, "the State cannot deny to any individual the right to exercise a reasonable choice in the method of treatment of his ills."
The uncertainty emerges from doctrinal contradictions and court decisions that appear to affirm diametrically opposed interpretations of the 14th Amendment's safeguards. As stated in "The Constitutional Right to Make Medical Treatment Decisions: A Tale of Two Doctrines":
"The court's unqualified language [supporting medical freedom] may have been overly optimistic, however: nearly fifty years later, it is hardly certain whether, and to what extent, the government can interfere with individuals' medical treatment choices."
Regardless of academic debate on the subject, the salient question here boils down to this:
Is chemotherapy for childhood Hodgkin's lymphoma really as life-saving as is claimed?
This is the linchpin question. Unless the answer is a resounding, unequivocal YES, the justification for forcing the treatment on Cassandra or any other child disappears into thin air. In the court order itself the question is never explored. The court's stance on pediatric Hodgkins lymphoma is unequivocally stated as follows:
"[pediatric Hodgkin's lymphoma is] ...a cancer that has a high rate of cure if treated and that will certainly kill Cassandra if not treated."
Is this really so?
Most people reading the court's justification would assume that "a high rate of cure" means that once treated with chemotherapy, if successful, the young woman's condition would go away permanently. Isn't that implied by the term "cure"? Nothing could be further from the truth. The actual definition of "cure" within modern Med-speak is known as the 5-year survivor rate. If after diagnosis and treatment the patient survives 5 years, without remission or experiencing treatment-associated secondary cancers, they can claim to have "cured" them. Not only is this a highly disingenuous semantic trick, manipulating terms like cure to mean something quite different if not entirely opposite to the public's colloquial understanding of it, but when chemotherapy treatment inevitability increases morbidity and mortality in a patient after they survive through the 5 year 'cure' period, it can more easily be written off as unrelated to the original treatment. In other words, it is easier for them to cover up the fact that no real cure was ever produced.
Ironically, the young woman in question (referred to as Cassandra S. in the court documents) is far more aware of the real dangers associated with chemotherapy than the court, a Washington post article revealed:
"The teen's mother has said that her daughter "knows the long-term effects of having chemo" and doesn't want to put "poison" in her body.
"She may not be able to have children after this, because it affects everything in your body," her mother, Jackie Fortin, said in a video posted on the Hartford Courant's Web site. "It not only kills cancer, it kills everything in your body. She knows this.
"This is her human rights — her human constitutional rights — to not put poison in her body. Her rights have been taken away. She has been forced to put chemo in her body right now, as we speak. These are her rights that have been taken away. She does not want to [put] poison in her body."
What is perhaps most surprising is how clearly the National Cancer Institute's data portal on long-term (i.e. "late effects") adverse health effects of childhood cancers confirms the young woman is 100% correct about the life-threatening dangers of chemotherapy, which also makes the Connecticut Supreme Court justification for their decision appear abysmally incompetent. The NCI states:
"Late effects are commonly experienced by adults who have survived childhood cancer and demonstrate an increasing prevalence associated with longer time elapsed from cancer diagnosis. The Childhood Cancer Survivor Study (CCSS) investigators demonstrated that the elevated risk of morbidity and mortality among aging survivors in the cohort increases beyond the fourth decade of life. By age 50 years, the cumulative incidence of a severe, disabling, life-threatening, or fatal health condition was 53.6% among survivors, compared with 19.8% among a sibling control group. Among survivors who reached age 35 years without a previous severe, disabling, life-threatening, or fatal health condition, 25.9% experienced a new grade 3 to grade 5 condition within 10 years, compared with 6.0% of healthy siblings."
In the case of Hodgkin's Lymphoma the cumulative incidence of chronic health conditions for severe, disabling, life-threatening, or fatal health conditions by primary childhood cancer diagnosis raises precipitously with age, so that by the age of 50 almost 70% will suffer devastating side effects of the original treatment.
This is only the tip of the iceberg. In the The Childhood Cancer Survivor Study (CCSS), the largest cohort to date for assessment of late mortality, wherein is identified "significant long-term morbidity and mortality associated with treatment of childhood cancer, the incidence of which continues to increase long after completion of therapy." The study reviewed the mortality experience of 20,483 survivors diagnosed between 1970 and 1986, representing 337,334 person-years of observation, including 2,821 deaths, revealing for the first time the true risk of death among 5-year survivors relative to background rates in the general population. The conclusion of the study found that those who were treated before the age of 21 had a 10.8 fold increased risk of death versus the background population.
Even more disturbing, and affirmative of this 17-year old's stated concerns about chemotherapy side effects, was the finding that recurrence of the original cancer was the leading cause of death among 5-year survivors, accounting for 67% of deaths.
The reality is that the published literature on chemotherapy-treated pediatric Hodgkins lymphoma patients unequivocally points to accelerated morbidity and mortality due to the treatment itself. There is no debate on this issue within the medical research literature. So how can the Supreme Court of Connecticut force a treatment on a 17-year old that is virtually guaranteed to make her die early?
The problem lies in the way that medical policy is arrived at. The conventional standard of cancer care is not 'evidence-based.' Present day cancer protocols are determined by a trillion-dollar plus medical industrial establishment that is in deep collusion with manufacturers of cancer drugs and treatments whose success rate in prolonging life hover somewhere around 2.1%.
As reviewed on Chrisbeatcancer:
"A groundbreaking 14 year study was published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology in December 2004 called "The Contribution of Cytotoxic Chemotherapy to 5-year Survival in Adult Malignancies".
Researchers at the Department of Radiation Oncology at the Northern Sydney Cancer Centre studied the 5-year survival rates of chemotherapy on 22 types of cancers in the US and Australia.They studied 154,971 Americans and Australians with cancer, age 20 and older, that were treated with conventional treatments, including chemotherapy.
Only 3,306 had survival that could be credited to chemotherapy.Study Results: "The overall contribution of curative and adjuvant cytotoxic chemotherapy to 5-year survival in adults was estimated to be 2.3% in Australia and 2.1 % in The USA"
Study Conclusion: "As the 5-year survival rate in Australia is now over 60%, it is clear that cytotoxic chemotherapy only makes a minor contribution to cancer survival. To justify the continued funding and availability of drugs used in cytotoxic chemotherapy, a rigorous evaluation of the cost-effectiveness and impact on quality of life is urgently required."
The fact that chemo only contributes on average about 2% to the overall survival rate is very alarming, and probably something your doctors didn't tell you.
It is important to remember that the "2.1% average" can be deceptive. Some cancers do respond better to chemo than others.
According to this research, the best results from chemotherapy are treating Testicular Cancer where it is 41.8% effective, and Hodgkins Disease where it is 35.8% effective. Still not great.
You can read and download the entire study HERE."
Of course, even this statistic obfuscates the reality of chemotherapy's inherent cancer-promoting properties. We have written extensively about the way in which chemotoxic agents enrich cancer stem cells, driving the root cause of cancer into great malignancy and ensuring cancer recurrence.
Given the clear dangers of chemotherapy, there is only one sane conclusion that can be drawn from this case. The 17-year old is absolutely correct in opting out of chemotherapy, and not because of her Constitutional right to choose her own medical treatment (or her mother's right to choose for her), but because the evidence is stacked against conventional treatment for the condition.
Additionally, natural alternatives to chemotherapy have already been confirmed. In a study published in the International Journal of Cancer in 2008 titled, "Curcumin induces cell-arrest and apoptosis in association with the inhibition of constitutively active NF-jB and STAT3 pathways in Hodgkin's lymphoma cells," researchers addressed a primary concern with conventional treatment:
"Although treatment of Hodgkin's lymphoma (HL) with a multidrug approach has been very successful, its toxicity becomes evident
after several years as secondary malignancies and cardiovascular disease."
The researchers found that curcumin has significant value as an alternative to chemotherapy for HL: The above findings provide a mechanistic rationale for the potential use of curcumin as a therapeutic agent for patients with HL.
The reality is that we don't know the natural history of Hodgkin's lymphoma, i.e. what would happen if we employed watchful waiting. Would some cases go into remission on their own? Or better yet, what if the person chose to use natural alternatives to chemotherapy like curcumin from turmeric, which preliminary research shows may be an effective and far safer alternative? Better still, what if that person employed a comprehensive approach focusing on dietary modification, detoxification, mind-body practices, vegetable juicing, etc.? We simply don't know because the research is focused on highly profitable, RCT-validated chemotherapies, which has only gone so far as to compare one chemo regimen to another, never comparing a root cause resolution model using natural interventions to a chemotoxic approach.
Obviously, medical interventions should not be compulsory unless they are proven life-saving and if it can be proven that declining treatment will result in more harm than accepting it. Perhaps not since the Nuremberg trials has the bioethical debate over the police powers of the State to force subjects to receive medical intervention and/or experimentation been brought into such high relief. Given the weight of evidence against the court's medical justification for its ruling this case appears to be a potentially lethal form of institutionalized child abuse.
 Gregory T. Armstrong, et al. Late Mortality Among 5-Year Survivors of Childhood Cancer: A Summary From the Childhood Cancer Survivor Study J Clin Oncol. May 10, 2009; 27(14): 2328–2338. Published online Mar 30, 2009. doi: 10.1200/JCO.2008.21.1425
 Mertens AC, et all. Late mortality experience in five-year survivors of childhood and adolescent cancer: the Childhood CancerSurvivor Study. J Clin Oncol. 2001 Jul 1;19(13):3163-72.