An 11-year-old Hamilton boy, who likes singing and dancing and writing stories, was diagnosed with leukemia four year ago. He underwent chemotherapy and this January celebrated one year cancer-free. But the disease came back in February. The boy did one round of chemotherapy, then decided to stop aggressive treatments in favour of natural remedies, including chelation therapy, vitamins, oregano and green tea. His father agreed with his son.
Chemotherapy made him extremely ill and caused effects such as vomiting, bloating, pain in his spine and difficulty walking.
The boy’s father said his son “told us that he didn’t want to undergo any more treatment because he felt that it wasn’t going to give him quality of life, that he felt it would probably take away his life.” Two of Canada’s top pediatric oncologists have said he will die without the aggressive treatment.
Enter the Hamilton Children’s Aid Society. They obtained a court order saying the boy is compelled to undergo chemo. A judge had earlier ruled the boy is not capable of understanding the implications of refusing therapy.
Now his family can only visit him under the watchful eyes of CAS workers and security guards; his father was evicted from the hospital in handcuffs after reacting in anger when his son was seized. The father said: “We may still lose against them, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to give up: He would rather just go traditional and natural and take it for as long as it would take him so that he could be with his friends, and so that he could be at home with his family and play with his sister and just try to have fun and live as long as he could live.”
The boy’s family has now retained a high-profile Toronto lawyer to represent their interests. Today the boy will receive his fourth and fifth rounds of aggressive cancer treatment under the constant watch of security guards, nurses and CAS agents.
In its lead editorial this morning The Globe and Mail came out strongly for enforced treatment: “The 11-year-old in Hamilton may know his own body, and may not wish to suffer any more. The father may respect his son’s wishes. But loath as a democratic society should be to intervene in family matters, it is right to assert the value it puts on children’s lives by insisting that children can’t make life-and-death decisions.”
Do you agree the boy should be forced to undergo chemotherapy?
Do you agree with the judge that an 11-year-old boy could not make an informed decision in this matter? The Catholic church teaches that seven is the age of reason.
Who should be able to make the decision about treatment in this case?