Anyone who has been through chemotherapy or has seen a loved one experience treatment knows the toll these treatments take on cancer patients. While deferring to medical professionals is the best course of action for the most part, more stories are surfacing about people looking for alternative treatments.
When it's your child, something like cancer is even more heart-wrenching. Christina Dixon, a mother in Oregon, learned her daughter Kylee had undifferentiated embryonal Sarcoma, a rare liver cancer that's most common in children. After several months of chemotherapy, where Dixon insists her daughter wasn't improving and the chemo was just making her sicker, she made the decision to stop the chemotherapy and give her daughter healthy food and vitamins.
In defense of her decision, Dixon explained, “the best way I can describe it is like my kid was on death row. Every single time — you literally feel your kid’s life getting taken away.”
It's understandable that the mother was concerned about the treatment. Chemotherapy has horrible side effects and can be dangerous. The Mayo Clinic reports that the most common side-effects are nausea, vomiting, fatigue, mouth sores and fevers. Plus, it's very painful and can cause lasting problems including infertility, nerve, heart and lung damage.
However, chemotherapy has also saved millions of lives and extended the lives of children living with terminal cancers by years. Dixon also advised medical professionals that these were her daughter's wishes too. Her health team and child services didn't agree with this course of action. In May 2018, the county stepped in and by June, the Clackamas County juvenile court ordered Kylee into state custody. According to the court, Dixon's decision to stop treatment against the advice of her medical team put the child in danger.
Defying the order, the mother and daughter went on the run. Police in Las Vegas found the family and took Kylee into custody for treatment, a move that Dixon and her supporters call a "medical kidnapping." The law enforcement agency didn't take Dixon into custody at that time, but the mother is still facing charges of custodial interference and criminal mistreatment. In August, the court ordered the doctors to continue treating Kylee and approved a surgical treatment to remove the tumor.
While Dixon is still fighting to regain custody of Kylee, now aged 13, the court is trying to have Kylee placed with a family member. As more people are looking for alternative treatments to cancer and the rates of people living with cancer continue to grow, these situations may increase.
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