New Ulm, Minn. – A 13-year-old boy cancer patient who fled the state with his mother rather than face chemotherapy underwent a round of the treatment he feared Thursday, a family spokesman said.
Jim Navarro said Daniel Hauser attended his second chemotherapy session at Children's Hospitals and Clinics but he had no immediate update on the teen's condition. The hospital wouldn't release information about the procedure, citing patient confidentiality.
The boy's parents, who initially resisted chemotherapy out of a preference for alternative treatments, faced legal consequences if they skipped the appointment. Daniel also attended an appointment a day earlier.
The family had said an earlier round of chemotherapy made Daniel, who suffers from Hodgkin's lymphoma, feel sick and hardened their resolve against further treatment. A Brown County judge ordered the treatment anyway, prompting Daniel and Colleen Hauser to leave their home in Sleepy Eye and spend a week on the lam.
The family prefers natural healing practices suggested by a religious group called the Nemenhah Band, which says it follows American Indian beliefs.
Earlier this week, the family agreed to accept chemotherapy when doctors vowed to integrate some natural treatments favored by the Hausers.
Although integrative medicine doctors said such therapy were not meant as an alternative to traditional cancer treatment, it can help patients deal with the effects of chemotherapy.
"A lot of people want to avoid chemotherapy because they're afraid of it, and what they're actually afraid of is the symptoms," said Dr. Lucille Marchand, clinical director of integrative oncology services at the University of Wisconsin Paul C. Carbone Cancer Center. "And symptoms can be treated."
Several integrative medicine specialists said acupuncture or acupressure has proven to be an effective way to treat the nausea that's an almost universal symptom of chemotherapy. Doctors said a young patient like Daniel also could respond to relaxation techniques like yoga or tai chi, as well as simple aerobic exercise.
But detractors such as R. Barker Bausell, a researcher at the University of Maryland School of Nursing who formerly worked at the school's complementary medicine program, said most integrative medical practices amount to little more than a placebo effect.
"You can't say it doesn't help, because you can't say placebos don't help," Bausell said. "People want to believe in it, and they're willing to pay for it. It's adding another layer of cost to our extremely expensive medical system."