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Chemo Boy Gets Support

May 12, 2008 permalink

Supporters of the Hamilton boy subjected to involuntary chemo therapy rallied outside his hospital room yesterday. He is also getting legal assistance from a top-rated lawyer, Marlys Edwardh. We include two reports, one from the Globe and Mail and one from the blog of Mary Janiga, one of the rally participants.



Boy, 11, can't endure chemo any more, defiant father says

JILL MAHONEY, From Monday's Globe and Mail, May 12, 2008 at 3:40 AM EDT

He is angry, misses his family and is losing his reddish-brown hair. His dad says his "spirit's broken."

The 11-year-old Hamilton boy, who has leukemia, was seized by the Children's Aid Society last week and is being forced to undergo chemotherapy against both his and his family's wishes.

"We may still lose him and we may still lose against them, but that doesn't mean I'm going to give up," his father said in an interview yesterday.

The child's father and stepmother are exploring their legal options and friends have hired Marlys Edwardh, a prominent Toronto lawyer whose long-time law partner is veteran counsel Clayton Ruby.

Support for anonymous boy on involuntary therapy
Friends of a boy taken into temporary custody by the Children’s Aid Society so that he can receive chemotherapy wave to him from outside his window at McMaster Children’s Hospital in Hamilton Sunday evening. A vigil was held to protest against the boy’s treatment by the authorities. (Glenn Lowson for the Globe and Mail)

Last night, about two dozen people, including members of the child's family, held a vigil in the rain outside his hospital window. The boy waved down at his supporters, who held candles in Styrofoam cups.

At a hospital appointment for routine tests last Thursday, the Children's Aid Society of Hamilton took the boy, who cannot be identified under youth-protection laws, into its temporary custody. Chemotherapy treatment was then commenced.

His family can visit him only 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.

A judge earlier ruled the boy is not capable of understanding the implications of refusing chemotherapy.

Two of Canada's top pediatric oncologists have said he will die without the aggressive treatment.

The deeply spiritual youngster, who likes dancing, singing and writing stories, is to be released from hospital tomorrow after his treatment is finished, his father said. It is unclear if the CAS intends to place him in foster care or release him to his family.

A spokeswoman did not return messages yesterday.

The father called the ordeal "awful, hell on wheels."

He said he will fight to regain custody of his son, saying the boy has suffered enough.

"The best thing for him to do would ... be home with us so that if he did pass away, at least it would be home with us and we could take care of him and we could make sure that he's sent away the way he deserves to be, not poked and prodded and treated like a criminal," he said.

Family friend Belma Diamante, who hired Ms. Edwardh, said the boy's views have not been heard by the court and child welfare agency.

"Every institution and every individual, if they're claiming that we're making the best decision in [the boy's] interest, then naturally [he] has to be heard," said Ms. Diamante, who met the boy when she helped him realize his dream of dancing in The Nutcracker three years ago when she was president of the Canadian Ballet Youth Ensemble.

The child was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, which has a cure rate exceeding 80 per cent, when he was 7.

He underwent chemotherapy and in January, marked one year cancer-free. But the disease came back just a few weeks later.

The boy, who has aboriginal ancestry, did one round of chemotherapy in February and then decided to stop aggressive treatments in favour of natural remedies, including chelation therapy, vitamins, oregano and green tea.

Chemotherapy makes him extremely ill and causes effects such as vomiting, bloating, pain in his spine and difficulty walking.

"He 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 that it would probably take away his life," his father explained.

"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 also has fetal alcohol syndrome and is mildly intellectually delayed, his father said.

He also has serious behavioural problems, for which he takes medication. His mother died of a brain tumour when he was 4.

Source: The Globe and Mail

Childrens Aid Society Protest (part 2)

Hamilton rally May 11, 2008

Well there were at least 20-30 people in attendance at the candle light vigil for the 11 year old boy and his family at McMaster Children's Hospital this evening at 7pm. Despite the rain, the wind and the cold a good crowd showed up with candles and signs. It was definitely a Mother's Day to remember. Hugs and tears, and laughter and lots of stories told of lost children and families torn apart by the Children's Aid Society.

The media was in attendance: The Globe and Mail, The Hamilton Spectator, CHCH News Hamilton, McMaster University.

The parents were there and extended family and friends. I got a few pictures of the vigil and of the building where the child is being held hostage by a system so corrupt, they kept the child from his home and from his mom on Mother's Day. Supervised and under guard of CAS workers and Security, the mother only seen her son from 11am until 7pm today in his hospital bed. There is a 20% chance this child may not make it through chemotherapy and our voices must be heard for this child.

We will be holding another protest tomorrow morning on Monday May 12, 2008 at 8am until 3pm.

Posted by maryjaniga at 10:31 PM

Source: blog of Mary Janiga for May 11, 2008