The sad, sad story of the little Hamilton boy with leukemia forced to undergo treatment is also a story that raises many issues. The government has decided that neither he nor his parents can make the decision to stop his chemotherapy. I question whether this is a decision made because the doctors strongly believe that this child will actually survive after even more rounds of chemo and the suffering that comes with it, or whether the decision is tainted by racism and the assumption that if you are poor, Native and have previously suffered from addiction, you lose the right to make decisions for your children?
A recent Globe and Mail article about the case, “Under watchful eyes, sick boy endures chemo and a visit form dad, the author lets the readers know: that the child has fetal alcohol syndrome, that the father is a chain smoker, unemployed, with old furniture, that he thinks natural medicine might help his son, that he and the mother of the child who died of cancer suffered from addiction in the past, and that the family is at least part Native.
I wonder if the government would be intervening if the decision to halt chemo had come from a rich, white, family?
I think we are always on the bandwagon to preserve life as best we can but when does the suffering become too much? How much suffering should a child have to endure? Will all the suffering be worth it in the end if the child lives? How much pain is too much and whose decision should it be to determine that awful reality? If you made mistakes in the past as a parent, should you lose the right to make decisions about your child’s welfare?
I do think that these cases need to be decided on an individual basis. We don’t know this family or this child and perhaps his doctors and the Canadian government are making the right decision, but I ask you: what is worse, the child dying from cancer that has ravaged his body and has been resistant to all chemo in the past, or the child continuing to suffer through chemo perhaps during his last months of life because he has a shot at living? Not very easy is it?