“We’ve Tried Nothin’, and We’re All Outta Ideas!”

I have no idea what to think about this AP article, which covers Daniel Hauser, a 13-year-old boy stricken with Hodgkin’s lymphoma who refuses to get chemotherapy. In fact, he refuses to the point that he “vow[s] to resist chemotherapy by punching or kicking anyone who tries to force it on him“.

This is a folk remedy that’s been practiced for generations, known as Punching Therapy. Once you find out you’re sick, you start punching things indiscriminately. It proves to the Hoary Disease Gods that you are very, very upset with them. Researchers have yet to determine its effectiveness, because the big pharmaceutical companies are afraid of alternative medicines! And also because anyone who approaches a practitioner gets clobbered.

At least this young man has some level-headed parents who will no doubt steer him towards a more reasonable…

“The kid says he’s not sick and the mom says she’ll treat it if it’s an emergency,” [his doctor] said of the Hauser case. “With cancer, if it’s an emergency, it’s too late.”

“Why act one second before you have to?! I also like to park on train tracks and pull away just before I’m crushed by a freight caravan!”

But these parents aren’t endangering their son’s life for the fun of it. No, there’s a totally reasonable explanation for this insane decision (and by reasonable, I mean just as stupid).

His family belongs to a Native American spiritual group that “advocates natural healing.” Unfortunately, it’s not one of those cool peyote cults that goes on mystical journeys into the farthest reaches of consciousness. Nope, this is one of those groups that wants you to become one with Mother Earth by dying as slowly and painfully as possible. Which just goes to show that even one of the most oppressed peoples on the planet can have colossally moronic religious views.

The family’s attorney says, “The Hausers believe that an injection of chemotherapy into Danny amounts to an assault upon his body, and torture when it occurs over a long period of time.”

Sure, chemo’s no fun. But you know what else is assault and torture on your body? CANCER.

I’m not sure I buy the religious excuse. The article says Daniel had one chemo treatment, then stopped. If the family objects so strongly to Western medicine and is so committed to “alternative treatments”, why’d they go to a doctor in the first place? If you keep kosher, you don’t pop a slab of bacon in your mouth, chew it, then spit it out; you just don’t touch bacon.

My suspicion: Daniel went in for a chemo treatment but didn’t like it (not that anyone does) and refuses to go back. On top of this, everyone’s freaked out about the dire reality of their situation. So the family’s decided to hide under a pile of coats and hope that somehow everything works out okay.

My 2-year-old has had two ER visits already. They were for relatively trivial things, but in both cases I had to hold her down while doctors poked and prodded her. It’s heartbreaking. I think I understand at least a glimmer of what this family going through. What I don’t understand is why they’d stick their heads in the sand and figure that cancer (CANCER!) can be cured by echinacea and an Enya CD.

But if that’s what they want to do, and it harms no one else outside of the family, then fine. Why bother getting the justice system involved, or putting doctors in arm’s reach of a punch-happy teenager, if they all clearly have a death wish? That way, valuable tax dollars are saved, no doctors are hurt, and the family’s happy because their wishes are respected.

Or they’re all dead. You know, whichever.