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Saturday, June 11, 2005

Sunrise, sunset 

Sunrise, sunset
Sunrise, sunset
Swiftly fly the years
One season following another
Laden with happiness and tears.

As a parent, it's often hard to decide where your pity for your child's pain should stop, and your obligation to your child's future should begin.
I thought about this while watching the coverage of the 13-year-old Texas girl with Hodgkins in remission who wanted to refuse the radiation treatments which her doctors recommended to try to prevent recurrance of the cancer.
First, the tone of the coverage surprised me. The law says that no 13-year-old is considered to be sufficiently independent and mature that she can make her own decisions about medical treatment. The law also says that the state is obliged to care for children who are in danger. Any time society wants to change these laws, it can certainly do so. But the TV news last week adopted the tone that the 'state' was just being a big, bad meanie, ripping this child away from the loving arms of her family who just didn't want her to suffer anymore.
Well, sure, who would want more radiation treatments? Of course she didn't want to go through this again. But that's not the point. Sometimes being a parent means making the hard decisions on your child's behalf, and being strong enough to deal with her tears.
We had a miserable case like this here a few years ago -- a 12-year-old boy had bone cancer in his leg, and the boy didn't want his leg removed. So the parents tried to go the alternative medicine route and the doctors tried to stop them. After an ugly legal fight lasting some weeks, the court ruled that the doctors could remove the leg. Well, of course, by that time the cancer had spread and amputation would no longer have offered any hope of cure. So the boy died about two months later.
Now the Texas girl's cancer has also recurred.

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