- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 16, 2006

ACCOMAC, Va. — Starchild Abraham Cherrix’s months-long legal fight ended yesterday in victory when his family’s attorneys and social services officials reached a resolution that will allow the 16-year-old to forgo chemotherapy for his cancer.

At the start of what was scheduled to be a two-day hearing, Accomack County Circuit Judge Glen A. Tyler said he was pleased to announce a consent decree, which he approved.

Under the agreement, Abraham will be treated by an oncologist of his choice who is board-certified in radiation therapy and is interested in alternative treatments. The family must provide the court updates on Abraham’s treatment and condition every three months until he is cured or turns 18, and notify the court immediately if treatment is discontinued, the judge said.

“It’s all over. It’s everything we fought for, everything that we wanted to ever have. We’ve won. We finally got our freedom back,” Abraham, of Chincoteague, a small Eastern Shore island, said outside the courthouse after the hearing. He also thanked people nationwide who have sent him letters and e-mails of support.

Rose Cherrix sobbed as she described Abraham as “without a doubt the most perfect son that any mother could ever want and could ever hope for.”

Judge Tyler emphasized that the agreement was reached “without making a finding of medical neglect” by Abraham’s parents, twice reading aloud that phrase from the decree. A juvenile court judge last month had found Abraham’s parents neglectful and ordered Abraham to report to a hospital for treatment. Attorneys for the family appealed, and Judge Tyler suspended the order and scheduled a new trial to settle the dispute.

At the end of yesterday’s brief hearing, Judge Tyler stood, looked at Abraham and said, “God bless you, Mr. Cherrix.”

Carl H. Bundick, attorney for the Accomack County Department of Social Services, told the judge that the department considers the agreement to be in Abraham’s best interest.

Abraham now is under the care of Dr. Arnold Smith, medical director and radiation oncologist at the North Central Mississippi Regional Cancer Center in Greenwood, Miss. According to his Web site, Dr. Smith uses immunotherapy to restore the immune system, combined with radiation therapy and chemotherapy when necessary. However, lawyers said chemotherapy is not in Abraham’s treatment plan.

Abraham said he saw Dr. Smith last week, and the doctor gave him “a plan that is very promising in killing this cancer.” The teen was diagnosed last summer with Hodgkin’s disease, a cancer of the lymphatic system that is considered very treatable in its early stages.

The teen said he will continue following an alternative liquid herbal treatment called the Hoxsey method as well as his doctor’s treatment regimen, in which radiation is a possibility, he said.

Abraham was so debilitated by three months of chemotherapy that he declined a second, more intensive round that doctors recommended early this year. He has said he thought it would kill him.

His then-oncologist alerted social services officials when Abraham chose instead to go on a sugar-free, organic diet and use the Hoxsey tonic, the sale of which was banned in the United States in 1960. According to the American Cancer Society, there is no scientific evidence that Hoxsey is effective in treating cancer in people.

“The agreement reached today is not at all reassuring,” said Dr. Ted Gansler, the society’s director of medical content. “The patient’s comments that he will continue receiving an ineffective alternative therapy and consider adding radiotherapy suggest he is excluding other options that could give him the best chance at survival.”

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