Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Save the Child by Margaret Turley
"You are not going to pour poison straight into her heart!" Nancy's determination to protect her daughter from the chemotherapy doctors insist she needs is fueled by boundless fury. She has seen cancer patients successfully treated with naturopathy. She wants the right to do this for Sharon, her eight year old child suffering from Leukemia.
Robert knows in his heart that chemotherapy is Sharon's only chance to survive. He follows his law professor's advice and forces himself to defend Nancy in public. As Sharon's parents they have to appear united. His work, law school and family demand more than twenty-four hours a day of him, and more than he is capable of giving.
Abby, at age fifteen, craves independence but needs understanding. No longer receiving the attention she deserves from her distracted parents, she seeks adventure on-line, with a stranger. The result sends her to the same hospital as her sister in a coma.
Five year old Ben misses his sisters. He blames his mother for making Grandma go away and his father for leaving him with strangers. Jack, the family dog provides his only comfort.
Phyllis, widow of a physician, can not condone her daughter's irrational actions. But love and concern for her grandchildren pull her back to care for Benjamin amidst the raging battle.
Cancer is the enemy. Love is the remedy and Grandma is the angel who glues the family picture back together again.
While I was traveling to work one day the news broadcast a story about a mother who was refusing chemotherapy treatment for her son. Because I am a nurse I asked myself why would a mother decide against the best that medicine could offer for her offspring. The story unfolded over the next few weeks. The doctors insisted the boy had a virulent cancer that needed immediate attention. Even when threatened with jail and loss of custody the parents were unrelenting in their premise that they felt their child did not have cancer, and they did not want him to receive chemotherapy. After they were charged with kidnapping their own child because they crossed state lines a judge listened to the parents and halted the medical community and government forces.
What the parents wanted was an independent, out-of-state medical work-up for their son. The judge allowed them to seek this consultation. The result was that the child was discovered to be free of cancer. I sighed with relief. The judge saved this boy from the horrible side-effects of chemotherapy which include nausea, pain, sores, compromised immune systems, sterility, major organ damage, secondary cancers, and even death.
One of the most important roles of a nurse is to be a patient advocate. During my thirty-four-year career I have observed more than one situation where a patient and/or their family are not listened to. This can cause grave problems and errors, not the least of which being patients and families enduring proceedures they do not understand or agree with. It is my hope that the medical community and the law can expeditiously come together to serve the best interest for the child and family.
In the United States parents do not have the right to make medical decisions for their children from the time they are born until they reach the age of majority. Doctors and hospitals need to respect the different backgrounds, cultures, religious beliefs, and preferences approaches to healthcare that individuals and families have. In Save the Child I have explored a few of these options. Thank you.
You can purchase Save the Child at Amazon.