The Curious Case of Makayla Sault

If you don’t know who Makayla was…

She was a young girl diagnosed with cancer, who had a good prognosis had she completed her treatment.  But, she didn’t.  She begged her parents to stop taking her to her oncology appointments.  She didn’t care if she died, she said, if she would have to go through the suffering that chemo was bringing her.

So, her parents agreed.  Whether or not this was the right choice was a topic of debate then, and still is now.  Could or should a child ever make such a decision?

Should they have tried to talk her out of that idea?  Sure.  But, what if she continued to insist?  What if, as they claim she did, she cried and screamed and begged not to go?  Should they have put her in a straight jacket and dragged her in?

I am not saying that to be facetious, either.  At what point do we, as parents, have to allow a child to make a decision that we may not like?  How can we force them to do much of anything if they truly do not want to?  I don’t know.  She wasn’t an infant, though.  So, it’s fair to say there may have been physical force involved.

Parents – I know you are thinking that you would drag your kids by the hair to the oncologist’s office if you had to.  You know what?  I get that.  I really do.  I think I would too.

But, I have never had one of my children crying and begging not to be put through something as heinous and painful as chemo… I have, however, seen chemo in action and that is one nasty undertaking (albeit, worth it, if you wish to live).

I don’t know what I would do.  I can’t say for sure, but I can’t condemn her parents for making that call… I believe that it was made out of love for their daughter.


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With that said, what followed the initial decision to stop chemo is an extremely frightening cautionary tale.

Makayla’s parents brought her to see a “doctor.”

Brian Clement looks like a character from Miami Vice and was, allegedly, selling himself as a doctor to Makayla’s parents as well as another family of a child with cancer.  His facility was, essentially, a day spa.  These parents allowed this man to advise them on the health of their terminally ill children… He sold them a pack of lies about alternative treatments, holistic health, etc… and they didn’t work. Because, he was not a professional.

And this begs the question…

How in the world did these parents allow this type of thing to happen?  How did they let some quack treat their children for cancer?

I’ll tell you how… a fundamental lack of understanding of science, reason and medicine. I am very careful with pills and with doctors. I hate invasive treatments and will always try the simplest way to fix an ailment.  I’ll eat something, drink something or take a nap and see how I feel.  But, that’s when we are talking about a headache or sinus congestion.

When it comes to cancer, and other deadly diseases, there has to be a basic understanding of the incredible danger of the disease.  And, though I understand that these parents knew their children might die, I have to wonder how terrible they could have believed it to be.  They were treating it with vegetables.

So, why didn’t they understand?  They didn’t understand because, when doctors told them that the odds were stacked in the favor of a patient who underwent chemo,  they didn’t (for whatever reason) fully grasp what they were being told.  If there is a 90 % survival rate for people who receive treatment, and no one has ever been proven to successfully beat that type of cancer with vegetables, then you stick with what you have evidence to believe will work. You stick with chemo.

But, they didn’t and here’s what I am concerned about….

There is a new movement toward clean eating and organics as well as a whole food diet that is, as far as I am concerned, absolutely fabulous.  Food is a wonderful way to heal the body and give oneself energy, power and strength.  Natural foods can boost immunity as well as help with lots of common problems.

But, that has nothing (NOTHING) NOTHING!!!! to do with cancer.  Eat as many veggies as you want as long as you are still on chemo.  After you are in remission, eat berries and quinoa until you explode.  But, special diets are not the way to cure cancer.

Our big media machine is making tons of money off of the natural foods craze.  It’s no small business anymore.  Companies are slapping ORGANIC labels on everything and consumers are buying the stuff up like crazy.  We are told by natural foods advocates, and TV doctors like Dr. Oz that acai berries are cancer fighters.  To be clear, they may not say, directly, that they fight cancer directly.  Because, they don’t.  They may be able to prevent cancer.  That’s a totally different ball of wax.

But, we hear “cancer fighting foods” or “natural remedies” all over the place, and if we aren’t careful we can start to get the impression that these types of solutions will work in situations that they have just not been proven to work.

With social media and the internet, there is so little fact checking (trust me, I know…) and the information proliferated is often garbage.  On TV, we take what should be entertainment and treat it as medical advice. It isn’t.  Even if the doctors that you see on TV are not quacks, they still have no way of diagnosing or treating you, or your family.

This clip from the TruTV show, Adam Ruins Everything, illustrates why vitamin supplements are useless, but we all think that we need them.

(source: TruTV, Youtube)

So, when it comes to your health…

Use some basic reasoning, look for some REAL evidence and pay close attention to the messages that you take in.  Your health is too important of an issue to trust to someone with little or no qualifications.  I know, from personal experience in freelancing, that overseas writers are often paid pennies to write about topics of which they have no knowledge.  The internet is pumping out false information at an alarming rate.

So, back to Makayla…

I can’t help but wonder if her parents were influenced by some of the things that they had seen and heard in the media regarding conventional medicine.

Would they have fought their daughter harder had they truly understood all of their options?

Did their daughter die because they allowed a quack to sell them a big bag of BS?

Could she have been saved?

Did she, as a minor child,  have the right to make her own healthcare decisions?

They’re haunting questions…





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