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Mother Refuses Chemotherapy
October 11, 2006 permalink
A Brantford mother wants to save her daughter from more chemotherapy for leukemia. The girl has already had one close brush with death from toxic shock, defined as: "a life-threatening condition in which tissues become damaged and blood pressure drops due to bacteria multiplying and producing poisons in the blood". Whether to go for more of this is not entirely a medical decision, and the family should have the right to make a decision. In the case of Katie Wernecke in Texas, the girl eventually got excused from chemo treatment. That is less likely to happen in Canada.
Woman fights chemo order for daughter
Local News - A city mother is fighting an order from the Children’s Aid Society to put her daughter -- in remission from leukemia -- back into a chemotherapy treatment.
Tayler Diamond isn’t sick and her mom, Lisa Diamond, says she wants to keep it that way.
The nine-year-old girl is looking and feeling healthy after almost a year of aggressive treatment to deal with the acute lymphoblastic leukemia that she was diagnosed with September of last year.
Her mother is confident she can continue to maintain Tayler’s good health with a regimen of good nutrition and natural supplements.
When doctors wanted to continue the treatments, Diamond drew a line.
“I agreed to come in for updates and bloodwork but not more chemo because I’ve seen the alternative side of this.”
Diamond said her stance has upset Tayler's doctors at McMaster University Medical Centre in Hamilton, who called the CAS. A social worker talked with Diamond and handed over an order that demanded the mother get Tayler back into chemotherapy on Friday morning.
Diamond refused, saying she has read too much about the toxic effects of chemo and the suicide rate among childhood cancer survivors because of the emotional trauma of the treatment. And she has watched what chemotherapy has already done to Tayler.
Marg Barr and Bruce Burbank, directors with the Brant CAS, said they couldn’t comment specifically on any case.
But the two emphasized the Child and Family Service Act provides for the protection of children who need medical treatment to cure, prevent or alleviate physical harm or suffering.
“It’s not used that often,” said Burbank, noting the issue sometimes comes up regarding the refusal of blood transfusions for religious reasons.
They said that the CAS hopes not to remove children from their homes so -- unless it’s looking at an urgent situation -- workers usually opt to go through a judge who would make an order for treatment that the parent would have to obey.
“All protection orders are not in-care orders,” explained Barr. “The agency tries to work with families and come to a resolution. We try to help them understand why that expert is giving them that kind of advice.”
Burbank said the CAS carefully weighs the sides of any issue but relies on expert medical opinion.
At the end of September last year after aggressive medical treatment, Tayler had her first bone marrow extraction and a lumbar puncture that showed she was in remission. But she went into septic shock that day from the procedures and was placed on life support for three weeks. An infection raged through her body which had no white cells to protect it.
Three times over the next few months the doctors told Diamond they didn’t think Tayler was going to make it. Finally, in the second week of December, doctors judged Tayler’s fragile body strong enough to continue with the chemo.
At Christmas, Tayler was given a low-level maintenance dose of chemo, which she continued to get for six months.
She was as weak as a newborn baby and had to be carried around by her mother.
In June, the doctors did four lumbar punctures within two weeks in order to put the chemo directly into her spinal fluid.
In July, they administered high doses of chemo that burned her body, leaving blisters from the toxicity.
Meanwhile, Diamond had been using her own treatments, culled from a massive amount of information on the Internet. She focused on trying to help Tayler’s liver filter out the toxic drugs that were killing the girl’s white cells.
She researched what others were saying about chemo drugs and learned too much about nasty side-effects, documented relapses and kids that got -- and sometimes died of -- secondary cancers. Diamond also found studies that dispute traditional statistics about the effects of chemotherapy.
She took Tayler to a naturopathic doctor who supported her strategy.
“I spent hours at the computer and learned to weed things out. When you find someone promoting a particular product you are wary, but when others are just documenting natural remedies and you hear it over and over and over, you start paying attention.”
Diamond paid particular attention to medical doctors who advocate natural treatment either in conjunction with or instead of chemotherapy.
Putting the brakes on the chemo upset Tayler’s doctors at McMaster.
They warned Diamond they’d call the Children’s Aid Society and then did.
“The order is to restart her chemo immediately and if I choose not to, they’ll take her into foster care. They refused to even look at my research. They said they’re only accepting Western medical treatment.”
Diamond, who has been consulting a local naturopathic doctor, said that she has an alternative expert opinion that’s not being considered.
She is working on getting a lawyer who will help her fight the CAS order.
“I’m trying to promote good health in my child and chemo just strips it away from her,” said Diamond. “The risks of chemotherapy are far greater than the risk of going naturally.
“I’m pleading with anybody that can help to get in touch with me.”
Source: Brantford Expositor
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Addendum: Here is a published response.
Mom is doing what's best for child
I am writing in response to Saturday's story about the woman who is fighting the chemo order for her daughter. I am a local doctor of natural medicine and was greatly upset by the uneducated action that was taken. I was appalled at the doctors' indiscretions regarding the effects of chemotherapy on the child and at the narrow-mindedness of the Children's Aid Society.
As people, we have become so narrow minded when it comes to medical treatment options. We have become a society that passively lays our lives in the hands of "medical professionals". We don't take any responsibility for our own health and when we do, we are not allowed because anything that is contrary to Western medicine seems to be forbidden.
Have we come to a point where if a doctor tells us to have our leg amputated and we choose to go against that recommendation we will be forced to do it anyway by an agency or by a judge? Do we no longer have a freedom of choice to decide which type of care is suitable for us as individuals or our children?
I would also like to point out that the story states that according to tests the girl is said to be in remission.
So why does she need further treatments? Is chemotherapy now going to be used as prevention? Or is there some other reason this child is being forced into treatment, such as money? We all know that the pharmaceutical industry profits billions of dollars at the expense of "sick" people.
It's interesting to note that the Child and Family Services Act provides for the protection of children who need medical treatment to cure, prevent or alleviate physical harm or suffering. In my non-expert opinion, this child does not need protection, nor does she need any type of toxic treatment to prevent or alleviate physical harm or suffering. It seems to me that she has endured more than her fair share of physical harm and suffering by receiving the treatments. In this case, I believe the CAS is operating against its own act.
One of the social workers said, "the CAS carefully weighs the sides of any issue but relies on expert medical opinion". Is that doctor the only one on this entire Earth who has expert medical opinion?
I am concerned first, for the well-being of nine-year-old Tayler. She is an innocent victim in this whole matter. So if she is forced into further treatments and those treatments kill her, who is then responsible? Who will take responsibility for an injustice like that? Will the CAS? Will the doctor who offered their "expert medical advice"? I can guarantee that no one will.
Every mother has a desire to do the best for their children. I believe that Lisa Diamond is doing the right thing for Tayler. She has educated herself and learned that there is more to being healthy than Western medicine. She is in my opinion doing what is best for the Child.
Source: undated photocopy of Brantford Expositor article received October 12, 2006.
Addendum: CAS wins.
Tayler back in chemotherapy
Local News - Tayler Diamond is back in chemotherapy under threat of being removed from her mother’s care.
Tayler’s mother, Lisa Diamond returned to McMaster University Hospital in Hamilton on Tuesday and Wednesday, allowing doctors to restart her daughter on drug therapy.
Tayler was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia a year ago but stopped her chemo treatments after a particularly toxic treatment left her burned and blistered.
“They said they want to increase her drugs because her blood counts are doing so well,” said Diamond sadly.
The mother had pulled nine-year-old Tayler from the chemo treatments after a year in favour of natural treatment under the care of a local naturopathic doctor.
McMaster Hospital doctors insist the girl needs another year of chemo to ensure her best chance at a full recovery from the leukemia. The doctors called the Children’s Aid Society and the CAS ordered Diamond to return Tayler to the treatments.
Now Diamond’s naturopathic doctor has also received an order from the Brantford Children’s Aid Society demanding a list of all the supplements Tayler has been taking or that he plans to give the girl.
“The CAS will then show Mac the list and they’ll get to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to everything,” Diamond said.
Since the story was in The Expositor on Saturday, Diamond has been contacted by more than 16 people who wanted to share their own stories, offer advice and give her legal and medical encouragement in her fight to opt out of chemotherapy.
Diamond also received moral support at the first chemo appointment this week from her minister, who accompanied her. She said the doctor she dealt with was furious that she had stopped the chemotherapy and yelled at her in front of Tayler.
“Now Tayler knows that I have to do this or they’ll take her away. She’s clinging to me while at the same time is physically sick. Is that looking out for her best interests?”
Diamond says the chemotherapy is traumatizing Tayler, who hates the treatments.
“Her body was shocked by the drugs this week. She spiked a fever and was in convulsions as she tried to fight it off. I’m so angry.”
Diamond says her research has shown chemotherapy doesn’t have the success rates that many doctors claim. A major study by the New England Journal of Medicine said that almost 75 per cent of children cured of pediatric cancer will develop a chronic illness within 30 years and 42 per cent of those illnesses will be disabling, life-threatening or fatal, including secondary cancers.
“This should be our choice,” says Diamond.
“People affirm my stance but tell you should never say anything to the doctors about what you’re doing -- or they say to tell the oncologist that you’re moving.”
Source: Brantford Expositor
Addendum: Yet another response.
CAS should stick to going after children being abused
I am writing in response to the situation with little Taylor. I think it is deplorable that the CAS would force a parent to go against what she knows is best for her own child.
The CAS is an organization. None of the workers have lived with Taylor on a regular basis. They do not know her like her own mother does.
The CAS has too much power in this country. It has stooped to a new low by threatening an honest, tax-paying citizen who only has her daughter's best interests in mind. Who will be responsible if the child is seriously harmed or dies?
To Mrs. Diamond, don't give up. It is atrocious what you are being coerced to do.
To Taylor, your mommy loves you very much. She doesn't want you to be taken away from her by people who don't know or really care about you.
To the CAS, back off. Leave the parenting to the parents. Spend our tax dollars saving children who are really being abused and not on taking them away from decent, loving parents.
Source: undated photocopy of Brantford Expositor article received October 17, 2006.