'I know that no amount of chemo can help my son'

SINGAPORE - "I am suffering more than parents who have children with cancer because I know the cause, and I tried to prevent the tragedy, but I couldn't. So I felt I have failed as a mother."

These are the words of a 31-year-old businesswoman, who is against chemotherapy for her leukaemia-stricken three-year-old son.

In an entry published on the blog, Our Place International, she reveals what she calls the "complete side" of her story in response to a Straits Times report on Tuesday.

She is resisting conventional treatment for her son because she believes that the "brutal treatment will kill him".

Instead, the divorced mother, who cannot be named because of a court order, wants to place her son in an alternative health and well-being centre in the US state of Arizona.

The centre, named Our Place International, advocates "self-healing" through fasting, exposure to sunlight and a diet of largely raw, organic food and which is devoid of meat and dairy products.

The Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports has stepped in to ensure the boy is placed in KK Women's and Children's Hospital until a decision is made on the type of treatment he will receive.

The mother explains in the blog entry that her insistence on having her son treated at the centre has made her family and those around her think she is crazy.

"Everybody listens to the doctors. I just wanted to provide a healing environment for (my son). I know he will not get better in the hospital," the mother says.

She claims that doctors told her that chemotherapy would weaken the immune system and make him prone to infections.

"When infections set in, chemo has to stop and the patient has to go through a course of antibiotic treatment," she says.

Doctors also told her that her son's disease had an 80 to 90 per cent chance of being treated effectively, but the mother felt that going through chemo would mean that her son had "more to lose".

'Natural laws'

"I know that there is a higher chance of recovery by following the natural laws that all creatures follow when they are not well (and well), i.e. fasting, sunshine, pure eating and loving care," she writes.

"I know in my heart that no amount of treatment or chemo can help (my son) get better.

"The cause has to be removed. He needs to get in the sun, get in the garden, he needs to rest his body and nourish his body with fruits and vegetables, and he needs the best example(s) from all the adults in his life.

"It may be difficult for any mother to comprehend my rationale, but I know that I must get better because this war has just begun, and I need to get stronger in order to fight this," she adds.

Dr Toh Han Chong, head and senior consultant at the department of medical oncology at the National Cancer Centre Singapore, cautions that while the mother's intentions may be well-meaning, it can be dangerous to ignore conventional methods of treatment.

"Compared to 50 years ago, the world of medicine has advanced significantly in terms of its ability to manage the side effects of chemo, be it fatigue, nausea, or the risk of infection," he maintains.

"There is significantly less concrete data to support the efficacy of alternative treatment in comparison to the volume of data and info available for conventional treatment.

"To allow a negative impression of chemo to cloud your judgment and to ignore the many years of well-designed studies is regrettable and quite worrying," he adds.


This article was first published in The New Paper.