Cancer Complementary and alternative medicine Medicine Quackery

End of year update on Abraham Cherrix

It’s been a while since I’ve heard anything about Abraham Cherrix, the teen who rejected conventional chemotherapy for Hodgkins’ lymphoma in favor of the quackery known as Hoxsey therapy. Ultimately, there was a legal battle resulting in a compromise that allowed Cherrix to pursue “alternative” therapy at a clinic in Mississippi run by a radiation oncologist who, in addition to providing radiation, also provides a variety of “alternative” therapies. When last we left Abraham Cherrix, after multiple recurrences on low dose radiation plus an unproven “immunotherapy,” he had no evaluable disease (NED). Unfortunately, he is very unlikely to have been cured, for reasons discussed by both me and The Cheerful Oncologist.

At year’s end, though, according to a news report in The Virginian-Pilot, he remains in remission and is apparently doing well. Despite my copious blogging on the case, I was hoping he’d beat the odds. After all, if I didn’t care whether he lived or died, I wouldn’t have been so dismayed at his choice of outright quackery first and then dubious immunotherapy second. I hate seeing cancer cut down youth in its prime, particularly when the death is potentially avoidable. Fortunately, Abraham did choose radiation, which is excellent palliation, although highly unlikely to be a cure. I was also far more upset how his case was used to pass “Abraham’s Law,” which was in essence a license for parents to use whatever quackery they want on children with life-threatening diseases. In the State of Virginia, at least, Abraham’s battle has the potential to have harmed many other children.

As for Abraham’s ultimate outlook, he’s still not out of the woods yet by any stretch of the imagination. Chances are very high that his lymphoma will recur in 2008. But you never know. He still might beat the odds.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

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