rebelling against low expectations

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. HT: Spunky Homeschool

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.

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)

Abraham Cherrix 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:

“[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.

Let us know what you think. Leave a comment.

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About the author

Alex and Brett Harris

are the co-founders of and co-authors of Do Hard Things and Start Here. They have a passion for God and for their generation. Their personal interests include politics, filmmaking, music, and basketball. They are both graduates of Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, Virginia.


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  • I work in the medical field and am a mom of three. I would also back my child’s decision, no matter how hard.
    However, if my patient tell me I can’t take his blood pressure, I can’t do that. If they don’t want to do something, I can’t make them. someone needs to make sure Abraham knows that too.
    God will provide the sacrifice in the bush. All we have to do is be faithful and look for it.

  • I agree with most of what has been said here, but I do not think it is as cut and dry. Courts have routinely ruled that minors are not adults, and that parents do not have the right to go against medical advice. Take for example the cases a few years ago that refused to let parents (I believe they were scientologists, but they might have Christian scientists or something else) refuse medical treatment for their children such as blood transfusion when the parents preferred to rely on prayer. I know that he isn’t just refusing Chemo because he wants to pray, he is seeking alternative treatment, but if I recall the other aspects of this story correctly, the Chemo shrunk the tumor and the alternative medicine had no effect, the tumor has actually increased in size.

    I do not like the government making health decisions, but sometimes I don’t like the alternative either. If Abraham and his parents can reject medical advice and endanger his life in the hopes of homeopathic cures, then why shouldn’t parents also be able to reject consistent medical advice in favor of faith healings, shamans, or anything else they can come up with. I know he consulted with an oncologist, but it is obvious that medical concensus is against the homeopathic treatment, otherwise he could just trot in several doctors with his point of view and change the judges mind.

    This is a very sensitive issue, I have thought about it long and hard and talked to my wife about it, and I just don’t see a clear cut answer

  • Abraham- hang in there. I’m praying for you now, that you would have the courage to do the right thing, even when everyone else says it’s wrong. I know you will. Through difficult health situations I’ve been in, I can testify that Jesus never leaves us to walk the valley alone. He always shines enough light for the next step; always gives enough strength for the next fight He has for us. I hope you’ve found that when we are totally drained, then JESUS is EVERYTHING! Remember, in our weakness, then He is strong. Look up Isaiah 30:18-21, especially verse 21. God be with you.

  • That is so, so compelling. I worked for a year in a natural health food store, so I’ve had a chance to explore natural health care alternatives, as well as some of the shortcomings of modern medicine (though it is, on balance, an incredible blessing). Not only is it shocking that an individual and his family are finding it difficult to choose their own care, it’s disappointing that alternative treatments are seen as sub-standard – there’s a lot of evidence to the contrary.

  • The question is, who decides Abraham’s medical treatment?
    1. Abraham himself did the research and came up with an alternative plan. It’s his life, and his call. That’s called LIBERTY. He is not committing a crime. Suicide is a crime (self murder). He is trying to heal with a plan he researched.
    1a. The doctor can’t advertise his regimen up here in the US and make millions to give to charity becasue the same mainstream medical & drug lobby which is persecuting Abraham won’t allow it in the US.
    2. Abraham’s parents support his choice. Anyone who doesn’t think his parents want him to survive is either childless or insane. His parents have the right to persue this course of treatment. It might not be what others would perscribe, but Abraham is not their child, is he! The parents are obviously not anywhere near the sphere of disconnected religious cult or occult attendees.
    Who gets to decide? Abraham? His parents? the state? The medical establishment? General opinion?
    This is an important question that effects YOU no matter what you personally feel about this case. Who do YOU belong to? Are you free? Do you CARE?!

  • I’m sorry it took a court to get you back to the hospital. I hope it’s not too late. There is always a possibility that eating tree-bark will work, but it is unproven. Cancer cells have a higher metabolism than regular cells. Chemo works because of this; the cancer cells get poisoned before the rest of you does, of course it makes you feel crappy, it’s poison! But it works. Hodgkins is nasty, but if caught early and monitored it is very curable. I hope the fine folks at CHKD can get you well again, and that maybe you will then realize how irresponsible that “doctor” in Mexico is.

    If his “cure” really worked, why has he not sold the recipe to GSK or Wyeth or whoever? He’d get MILLIONS that he could give to the charity of his choice if he is noble enough not to want to be rich.

    I wish you luck, I really do.

  • Richard,

    What we’re talking about here is nothing less than slavery. This matter is not within the State’s jurisdiction.

    I would rather live free for 9 years than be a slave to the State for ninety.

  • The fact that this lad is being offered chemotherapy, would imply that his disease staging is between IIA – IVB (for information on staging visit- It seems pretty clear to me that these stages carry a five year survival rate of over 90%, and less than 40% respectively (without treatment the disease can be expected to progress rapidly through these stages). This is an extremely treatable form of malignancy. However, Mexican doctors advocating sugar free diets have never been proven to have efficacy in this condition. Being pumped full of toxic chemicals has. And that isn’t pleasant. But it ends. Would you rather have been allowed to do this at 16 and be dead at 25, or have had your liberty taken away and have a normal life expectancy. Be honest please.

  • Thanks so much for covering this. Not only does my heart reach out to Abraham’s difficult situation, but I am concerned at the role government is taking in this case.

  • While I don’t like state intervention in personal affairs or medical matters, what if this case were only slightly different? Say, a five year old boy needed treatment (for cancer or anything else that is possibly curable) and his parents believe that if they use alternative treatment (vitamins, herbs, etc) would we not be singing a different tune? I remember a story about a boy who needed a blood transfusion, but his parents wouldn’t allow it (i think they were jehovah’s witnesses) and everyone was outraged and welcomed intervention. Just remember, if state intervention in medical cases of minors is banned, then parents could allow their children to die by refusing simple medical treatment. Don’t be so quick to judge the situation.

  • “Lord, please heal Abraham. We give you all the glory, in Jesus name, Amen.”

    It’s very interesting that the state is very determined to interfere with the family’s rights and even Abraham’s individual choice in his health matters, but in the case of say, a teenage girl and her decision to have an abortion and not tell her parents – the parents are deliberately left out of such a huge decision (a tragic and terrible decision indeed).

    We are getting another glimpse into the meddling of even the health-care field into personal decisions regarding treatment and the stripping away of parental responsiblities/rights.

  • Plus, it shows that the state obviously doesn’t care about his health. If they did, then they wouldn’t be threatening jail where he would most certainly get worse.

  • Spunky: Thank you. I actually can’t view the video because it requires Internet Explorer (among other things), but I had already included the link in my post (near the bottom).

    If anyone finds the video in another format, let me know.

  • Jacqui,

    He had a website but the domain expired and someone else has taken it over. Before it expired, I listened to a song that told his story. In the song, they talked about the family’s love and devotion to God. That led me to believe they are believers.

  • I’m glad you all are posting about this. It is very troubling, and especially so to me since he lives in my state. I’m blogging about this also.

  • Here is the fortitude of bravery and the conviction of choice. It is my hope and prayer that Abraham will triumph both in his body and in his case against the state. The LORD shall prevail. In the meantime, let us be praying that the LORD shall intervene in his body and shall leave no doubt that He was involved.

  • There are two interesting aspects to this case. One is the sixteen year old’s decision itself and the other is tha the state found the parents neglectful. It was because of the charge of neglect that the state can do this. That fact should send chills down the back of any parent. What the state considers neglect is getting broader and broader and as it does so do the ramifications.

    Thanks for covering this Alex. It is my hope that we can rally support around this family. I posted a link on my blog to an interview Abraham did with the Today Show about a week and a half ago. It is worth watching to see the composure of this young man.

  • Wow. The idea that the state would presume to intervene in such matters of conscience (given that the state simply could NOT prove its burden of establishing a direct link between Abraham’s choices for alternative treatment and outright suicide in this case) is simply outrageous.

  • I am ecstatic to hear he won. I was severly frustrated at the original decision because I knew it was a death sentence for him.

    However, I fear his chocie of the Hoxsey method to be a grave mistake. It’s not nutritionally nor wholistically sound.

    Many peopel know that our bodies we built to repair and regulate themselves, barring major trauma.

    BY giving the body what it needs and eliminating all toxins and alkalizing, you can cure the body of virtually all it’s diseases and problems and restore it to it’s natural state of homeostasis.

    But the Hoxsey method is more gimmick than anything else and I fear it’ll kill Abraham.

    If he’s willing to go to Mexico, I woudl STRONGLY urge him to go to the Gerson Clinic and do the Gerson Therapy.

    Also read up at

    Anyone who knows how the body works knows that at this point, Abraham desperately needs tons of raw foods, lots of alkalizing vegetable liquids and although nobody likes it, daily coffee enemas to alowo the liver to purge larger amounts of toxins from his system.

    If he does the Gerson Therapy or at least goes on a raw foods diet if nothing else, he stands a chance.

    But eating oranges and herbal teas is NOT the way to beat this thing…

  • OK,
    Abraham has cancer. He’s a minor. after going through a session of painful treatment it has not healed completely. he needs another session to “cure” him. he personally makes a decision concerning his life; no more chemotherapy. he understands more chemo will a)kill some more cancer and b)threaten his life. he wants another option. His parents, valuing their sons choice,supervise the alternate treatment.

    The hospital knows that Abraham is no longer getting their therepy. Presumably not knowing the family or the nature of the decision, someone notifies social services that a miner with treatable cancer is not using the treatment of choice and his parents are ok with that. social service people then bring the case to court. Now the court is giving custody of Abe in partiality to his parents, trying to give him treatment he doesn’t want and threatening him with jail.

    Did I miss something? Shouldn’t the social service have a system that expresses when intervention is in order? shouldn’t any knowledgeable, mature 16 yr. old have a right of life? don’t his parents have the right to choose? As a matter of fact, did this case even need to come to court at all?

    He is getting treated for cancer. Unorthodox yes, but treatment none the less. he is fighting, yes for his life, but also his right (and i’m sounding really liberal just now). It’s not very just to ignore the medical wishes of anyone, including a minor. he says he understands the impact of the treatments, and he got his parents support when he chose alternative therapy. the courts should really reconsider this whole doesn’t really concern them.
    I pray that the Lord sees you through, Abraham,


  • Hi,

    I’m not really sure what is going on with Abraham now, but I would really like to find out a way to contact him. My family just got back from a clinic in Mexico for wholistic treatment. While we were down there, we heard about Abraham, I had no clue I would stumble upon this site though and hear about it. God is awesome. My mom was just diagnosed with brain cancer. To hear more about mexico, see it

    Love, Danielle

  • Hang in there Abraham, I’ll be praying for you. It is sad that we no longer have control of what we want to do with our body (for good) , but the government doesn’t stop others from tattooing, piercing and doing all kinds of crazy things that are known to be harmful. I work in a vitamin store, and I have seen people reversing cancer, and other conditions with natural products. I believe GOD gave us herbs to use as medicine, something that won’t give side effects, why do doctors think we have a pipe instead of an esophagus THEIR MEDICINES ARE KILLING PEOPLE, yet they send you to jail if you don’t take it? Abraham, trust in the Lord with all your heart, he is taking care of you.

    God Bless You and your family.

  • WOW. I will be praying for Abraham and his family…Does anyone else feel like we live in communist Russia?

  • my dad had hodgkins cancer 14 years ago. by way of Jesus working miracles, he was healed. He now has chrons disease. He has had it for the past 5 years. Cancer is a crazy thing and it had a terrible effect on my dad’s current sickness. He continues to praise god through all of his trials though. It always amazes me. Jesus has been so good to me and him. Isn’t it amazingly sad that we deserve so much more than just cancer or chrons? Eternal fire from hell is more like it. These trials are only momentary. Just wait till heaven. Can’t wait to see you all there.

  • Wow, this is insane, its sounds a lot like communist Russia or Nazi Germany. i am praying for Abraham and his family and hope that they win the fight. GOOD LUCK!!!

  • Sometimes it seems hard to trust God to do His will…this is one of those times for me. I pray that Abraham is healed, and that if he is not in this world, that he is with our Saviour in the next. I think it is wrong for the state of Virginia to control him and his family the way they are. I think as homeschoolers we have chosen a harder path, but be encouraged! If we are persecuted, that means we are following and honoring Jesus!

  • advice isn’t advice if you are forced to take it.
    What has happened to our rights?
    I know i probably shouldn’t say this but that judge seems stupid.
    I am praying!

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rebelling against low expectations

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