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1999/04/02 The Case of Tyrell Dueck
oncolnx1.gif (9037 bytes) Probably everyone in Canada has been following the case of a young man (13 years old) called Tyrell Dueck, who lives in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.  He is suffering from bone cancer and his doctor recommended amputation of one of his legs..  Tyrell and his parents wanted to go the alternative therapy route.  In December of 1998 Tyrell was allowed to stay in the custody of his parents, but his health care was directed by child welfare services.

Here, apparently, are the makings of a controversy about everything from medical ethics to social justice.  The justice system and social services became involved as it was thought that Tyrell was under the misguided influence of his parents and had not made the alternative therapy decision on his own.  Madam Justice Allison Rothery of the family division of the
Saskatchewan Court felt that Tyrell was not a mature minor and was in need of protection.  On March 18, 1999 Tyrell was taken to a cancer clinic (by his grandparents) to resume his chemo therapy treatment while isolated from his parents.

This opens many ethical questions regarding our health care system, the justice system and in particular how that justice system treats minors.

I would imagine that any 13 year old person suffering from a life threatening illness is mature well beyond his chronological 13 years.  Whether a person is 13, 28 or 92 they do not want to be ordered to have a particular course of treatment (in this case chemo therapy and leg amputation), and then to be isolated, by court order, from his/her closest relatives.  

At any rate, to make a long story short, tests at this particular cancer clinic, in Saskatchewan, revealed that Tyrell's cancer had spread to his lungs.  And so the legal battle ended and put Tyrell beyond the help of conventional medicine.  This in and of itself speaks volumes about our medical and legal systems.  Both these systems took on a family at its most vulnerable time and tried to make this family do things they did not want to do and well beyond their personal beliefs.  There will always be times when a child needs protection by an act of the court, this was not one of those times.

Since March 25th, the Duecks have been in Tijuana, and Tyrell is free from leg pain for the first time in weeks.  Tyrell has been treated with herbs, vitamins, laetrile as well as the conventional courses of chemo and radiation therapies.  After a recent day of tests at the Tijuana clinic it was reported that there was no sign of cancer in Tyrell's lungs.  If true, thank God for the small mercies he delivers.

The Duecks know, as all cancer sufferers do, that there is no magic cure, but when someone is denied access to the treatment they want and believe in, their own hopes and beliefs start to become eroded.

The health care system is on very shaky ethical ground in cases like Tyrell's as is the justice system.  It is time the health care
establishment started to consider alternative therapies seriously.  A large portion of patients already seek alternative therapies instead of the established medical treatments, because many seem to work very well in many cases where
conventional medicine is failing.  Many alternative therapies such as herbs, vitamins, deep tissue massage, rekkei, chiropractic therapy, hypnosis, etc. have been used all over the world, some for thousands of years.  You can't knock it if it works.

I hope that Tyrell's stay in Mexico will continue to be successful.  Tyrell, your faith will sustain you and your family in the days ahead.

I for one will be watching the papers to see if the alternative treatment will get the same coverage as the legal battle and conventional medicine did.  As Hoffer suggests I somehow doubt that will be the case, because if the alternative treatment does not work the established medical practioners will be able to say "I told you so."  On the other hand if the alternative therapy works it will probably be classified as a fluke.

A list of alternative treatment clinics is as follows:

See Also:


Health Crisis In OntarioHealth Crisis In OntarioThe Ophiuchus Society Home PageCervical Cancer: A Personal AccountUpdate On Tyrell Dueck

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