When I was a boy, a diagnosis of leukemia was pretty much a death sentence and in fact a school friend of mine died from the disease. Thanks to advances in modern medicine, nowadays many forms of childhood leukemia can be treated and cured. So it is unconscionable when parents decide that they want to treat their child with ‘alternative’ treatments that will likely result in death. One couple in Florida decided to skip the chemotherapy session for their four-year old child and fled the state with him.
Authorities caught up with them in Kentucky and took the child back to continue the treatment, and the child now lives with his grandmother.
After the boy, who the BBC is not naming, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in April his parents opted to treat him using cannabis, oxygen therapy, herbs and alkaline water.
Medical cannabis is legal in Florida.
Chemotherapy is often associated with debilitating side effects, but many types of modern chemotherapy cause only mild problems.
According to St Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, about 98% of children with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia go into remission within weeks of beginning treatment, and about 90% of child patients are eventually cured.
The report does not say if the parents are highly religious. The fact that they sought to treat the child with cannabis and other things and not prayer suggest they are not. Instead, they are probably those who, like the anti-vaxxers, think that they know better than what modern science and medicine says are the best treatments for disease.
The parents have lost custody of their son but are planning to file an appeal.