Blessing of Abraham "Starchild" Cherrix
Fifteen-year-old Abraham Starchild Cherrix never intended to challenge the medical establishment when he refused chemotherapy earlier this year for a type of lymphatic cancer known as Hodgkin's disease. He simply believed the treatment was poisoning him, rather than saving him. What he wanted was a more natural approach, which he sought through an alternative treatment clinic in Tijuana, Mexico. That decision led to a courtroom battle, accusations of parental neglect and the possibility of being removed from his Chincoteague home.
Abraham's case has brought into public view some difficult questions: What are parents' - and more expressly, children's - rights in choosing medical treatment? When is alternative medicine helpful or harmful? And who has the right to intervene when the answers to such questions are in dispute?
Abraham was diagnosed with the lymphatic cancer late last summer and went through a three-month round of chemotherapy at the hospital, traveling back and forth with his father from their home on the Eastern Shore.
In February, tests showed that the cancer was still active. Doctors said the boy needed more chemo, and radiation therapy to attack tumors in his chest and neck.
That's when Abraham dug in his heels. He and his father did some research and decided to try a treatment in Tijuana that includes an organic diet and herbal supplements. Soon after, his case was reported to a child-abuse investigator at the Accomack County Department of Social Services, who asked a judge to order that the teen continue conventional treatment.
At a Tuesday hearing, Judge Jesse E. Demps ordered tests to see whether Abraham's cancer had worsened and filed a temporary order saying the parents had "neglected or refused to provide necessary treatment" for the boy. He ordered that joint custody be shared between the parents and Social Services to ensure proper care and Abraham was ordered to endure more chemotherapy. He refused.
A benefit for Abraham and his family was held in the Hampton Roads area to raise money to help pay for medical costs and family legal bills. Your help is greatly needed and appreciated.