Abraham Cherrix: Fighting for His Life
This post serves as coverage central for Abraham Cherrix's story. Updates will be added directly below in reverse chronological order. For first time vistors, the original post is below the updates.UPDATE #9: Read the news coverage of the agreement made between Abraham's lawyer and county social workers announced by Judge Tyler on August 16th.
HT: Spunky Homeschool
UPDATE #8: Read selected excerpts from Abraham's appearance on the Sean Hannity Show on Tuesday (7/25).
UPDATE #7: Read the media coverage of Judge Glen Taylor's decision to suspend the juvenile court's earlier ruling and watch online news coverage.
UPDATE #6: Watch Abraham on FOX's Hannity and Colmes on Monday night and read the transcript.
UPDATE #5: Read the Tuesday (7/25) updates on the legal case status, news coverage, blog coverage, and online video.
UPDATE #4: Read the transcripted words of the song The Ballad of Abraham that Chris Lowery wrote and recorded about Abraham. Listen to it by clicking here.
UPDATE #3: Read the Monday (7/24) updates on the legal case status, news coverage, blog coverage, and donation information.
UPDATE #2: Read the transcript of Abraham's appearance with Ann Curry of NBC's Today show or watch the video (requires Internet Explorer).
UPDATE #1: Watch an indepth video report by a local Virginia news station with transcripted excerpts. (Source: WAVY-TV)
Fighting for His Life
Abraham Cherrix, 16 years old, in his Chincoteague, VA home.
(Photo: Steve Helber, AP)
Abraham Cherrix looks older than he is, and not just because he's 6' 1". His eyes have a maturity and depth uncommon in most 16 year olds, but Abraham is far from an ordinary young man. Since last summer, he's been fighting for his life.
In 2005, Abraham was diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease, a curable form of cancer that affects the lymph nodes. In September he started chemotherapy treatment at the Children's Hospital in Norfolk, VA.
Three months went by, the chemotherapy leaving Abraham bald, nauseated, feverish and weak. "His legs would buckle under him. It pretty much devastated him," said his mother, Rose, who home schools Abraham and his four siblings. (Source: USA Today)
"There were some nights I didn't know if I would make it," Abraham said. He did make it, but in February, tests showed that his cancer was still active, and doctors at the Children's Hospital recommended another round of chemotherapy, along with additional radiation treatment.
After talking with an oncologist (a doctor who studies and treats tumors) about the risks and side effects of the proposed treatment, Abraham decided he wouldn't go through with it.
“They wanted to bring me to the brink of death, then bring me back, try to restore me with stem cells," he explained. (Source: InsideNova.com)
"[It] would kill me, literally. No joke about it," he said. "The first round of chemo almost killed me in itself."
With his parent's backing and under the supervision of a clinic in Mexico, Abraham began pursuing an alternative treatment called the Hoxsey method, following a sugar-free, organic diet and taking an herbal remedy four times each day.
That's when the trouble really started.
Someone — Abraham thinks a doctor at the Children's Hospital — reported the Cherrix family to a social worker with the county's social services department. The social worker asked a judge to require that Abraham continue chemotherapy treatment.
In May, Judge Jesse E. Demps issued a temporary order finding Abraham's parents "neglectful," forbidding them from seeking treatment outside Virginia, and awarding partial custody to the Accomack County Department of Social Services — warning the family that they faced losing custody completely.
Abraham and his family were dismayed.
"What it boils down to is does the American family have the right to decide on the health of their child or is the government allowed to come in and determine that themselves and threaten one way or the other to split our family up?" said Jay Cherrix, Abraham's father. (Source: AP)
Said family lawyer, Barry Taylor: "I don't think any family in the commonwealth would be comfortable with the fact that a social worker with no medical training could make a medical decision for their child. It's an assault on the American family."
The news didn't remain all bleak. On June 1, Abraham and his family gained a temporary reprieve. The judge ordered that Abraham could travel to Mexico to continue alternative treatment if he first had an X-ray in Norfolk to assess the cancer. He agreed.
But a week later, the judge changed his mind and ruled that if doctors decided it was necessary they could order yet another test — like a CAT scan or MRI — something Abraham said would interfere with his herbal treatment. If he refused to comply, Abraham was threatened with jail.
"This is craziness," a frustrated Abraham said. "I talked to the judge, he agreed with me he was going to do what I wanted to do and all of a sudden at the last minute he changes it all around." (Source: WAVY-TV)
When doctors offered an MRI scan, Abraham refused. They obliged, saying that two x-rays were all that was necessary. But the fight wasn't over yet.
A week and a half ago, the court reconvened for further testimony and to make a decision as to whether Abraham and his family could make their own medical decisions. After 11 hours of hearings, all the Cherrix family could do was pray and wait.
"We [already] tried their way, and it didn't work," Abraham's mother explained afterward. "We truly want to see him get better, and whatever it takes for him to get better we will do."
Abraham echoed his mother's words, "This is my body that I'm supposed to take care of," Abraham said. "I studied. I did research. I came to this conclusion that the chemotherapy was not the route I wanted to take."
For Judge Jesse Demps, that wasn't enough. Today he ruled that Abraham must report to a hospital by Tuesday and accept whatever treatment the doctors deem necessary. Their lawyer has promised an emergency appeal on Monday.
"I want to caution all parents of Virginia: Look out, because Social Services may be pounding on your door next when they disagree with the decision you've made about the health care of your child," lawyer John Stepanovich said. (Source: AP)
Abraham is committed to keep fighting for control of his life. Last week, he told Ann Curry of NBC's Today show (Watch: Click Here) that he was prepared to keep fighting, even if it meant going to jail.
"I am willing to do that," he said.
You can tell he meant it.
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