Last Updated:Friday - 09/24/2010
April 5, 1999
A tragic collision of belief systems
SPECIAL TO THE WCR
The tragic news that cancer has spread to Tyrell Dueck's lungs brought his legal battles with the Saskatchewan government to an abrupt end.
On March 18 a judge ordered the 13-year-old bone cancer victim to undergo chemotherapy and possibly amputation against his and his parents' wishes. Tyrell underwent two court-ordered courses of chemotherapy, but terminated the treatments at the end of February.
Tyrell's parents, Timothy and Yvonne Dueck, wanted to send him to a clinic in Tijuana, Mexico, for "alternative" cancer treatment.
Tyrell agreed with that plan, but medical experts testified that although he is competent to make independent decisions about his treatment options, he has been influenced by alleged "misinformation" from his father.
"Tyrell has the capacity to make the decision but what is missing is his ability to gain accurate information from the medical community," said psychiatrist Dr. Donald Duncan of Kelowna, B.C.
I guess we can interpret that to mean that Tyrell is capable of making his own decisions, so long as they conform to medical orthodoxy. If he decides otherwise, he is being inaccurately influenced.
According to Duncan, the Duecks have a "right wing, fundamentalist, faith-healing," Christian world view. We might reasonably ask what relevance the Duecks' politics have to their competence in advising their son on treatment options? Must one be a leftist in order to evaluate such matters correctly?
Duncan is quoted saying that Timothy Dueck's "belief system" makes him feel that it is his sole responsibility to make decisions for his son and to protect him.
The implication is that parents are only justified in making decisions regarding their children's welfare that conform to establishmentarian orthodoxy. Deviate from that, and in swoops the state.
Just hours after Justice Allison Rothery granted the provincial social services minister power to make medical decisions on his behalf, Tyrell was admitted to hospital. Social Services announced that doctors could proceed with whatever treatment they deemed necessary.
The medical establishment had insisted that only six courses of chemotherapy and removal of part of his thigh bone could save Tyrell's life. However the metastasis of his cancer has dropped his statistical chance of survival to 10 per cent, and Social Services had the court orders involving the boy's treatment lifted.
"I think Tyrell would not be in the situation he is today if Social Services had not stepped in two months ago," Tyrell's uncle Kevin Hildebrandt, told the Saskatoon Star-Phoenix.
Duncan was right about one thing: this dispute is about belief systems. Conventional medicine operates within a narrowly circumscribed one of its own - dogmatically maintaining that all healing modalities falling outside its boundaries - chiropractic, traditional Oriental medicine, homeopathic, herbals, nutritional therapy, and others - are "unscientific," "unproven" and probably "quackery" to a greater or lesser degree.
The operative attitude is that "If we can't deal with it on our terms, it does not exist, because only our terms are valid."
Consequently, people who question or challenge the medical establishment's belief system are regarded legally and socially as heretics against the great church of modern, allopathic medicine, and persecuted as such.
If you think "persecuted" is too strong a word, ponder the implications of having your body pumped full of toxic chemicals or a limb amputated against your will.
The medical establishment jealously guards its legal monopoly on clinical judgment, which the state and most of the public accept uncritically. As long as conventional medicine had the last word about treatment, the outcome of Tyrell's hearing was a foregone conclusion.
Judge Rothery stated that "Tyrell has been misguided by his father into placing his hopes for recovery on a cure that does not exist. This is simply cruel to Tyrell."
How did she know that a potential cure does not exist in Mexico? Only on the prejudiced say-so of the medical monopoly.
By pure coincidence, last week I happened to watch a video about a hospital near Tijuana that treats cancer and other degenerative diseases with unconventional therapies.
Either a remarkably talented and diverse group of actors were hired, or this hospital's patients are extremely satisfied with the treatment they receive, and many have experienced dramatic health improvement.
The hospital's brochure explicitly states that it does not promise cures, miracle or otherwise, and even forthrightly addresses the logistics of obtaining death certificates and transportation of remains of patients who die there.
What they do promise is hope, and an "anecdotal" track record to back it up. Would they have been able to help Tyrell two months ago? Let's pray that they still can, if the Duecks decide to pursue that option.
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