Published March 31, 2009
When I talk to cancer patients and survivors alike, I'm always inspired by their motivation, optimism and undeniable will to carry on the fight to beat their disease. Learning of a cancer diagnosis is a very hard thing for both the patient and the family.
But it's especially hard when that patient is a child. These children face challenges on a level that most of us will never experience in our lifetime. And trying to explain to a child that they have cancer is a devastating task for both parents and health care providers.
Now imagine trying to explain a cancer diagnosis to an autistic child who now has to deal with the strict regimen of cancer therapy. His survival is completely dependent on the compassion and commitment of his parents, as well as the health care team that's treating him.
This is why I'm so outraged that a 9-year-old autistic boy has died from non-Hodgkins lymphoma. Jeremy Fraser lost his battle with cancer after his mother allegedly failed to provide him with the medications that he so desperately needed. Non-Hodgkins lymphoma is a very treatable cancer, but it requires adequate treatment that could range from months to a year. In fact, doctors had given Jeremy a 92 percent cure rate - assuming his mother would do her part in helping him complete treatment.
According to the reports that I have read, Jeremy was heading in the right direction, but was supposed to follow up at home with a very crucial phase in the treatment. But after his mother canceled a dozen chemotherapy appointments, and neglected to fill at least half of the prescriptions vital to the success of Jeremy's treatment, he was returned to the hospital with only a 10 percent chance of survival - and in the end, it was too late.
I'm certainly mad at the lack of parenting skills that Jeremy's mother has shown, but I don't know if I should also be mad at the health care center that was treating him. Where was the follow up? Why not try to find out how this child is - especially if he has missed several appointments for chemotherapy treatment?
A child with cancer has died - not because if his disease - but because the negligence of the adults that should have been looking out for his well being. May God bless him and keep him safe.