This page has the local news reports at the time the Tyrell Dueck story was going on. Tyrell Dueck died July 2 1999. Some of the debate surrounding this story can be found at the Healthwatcher. Interesting issues arise: Who has the right to determine the health care of a child? The parents or the state? Most of the people who supported and funded Tyrell's trip to Mexico would certainly deny girls or women of any age the right to contraception and abortion and call on the state to back them up. -- Sheila Steele
Having declared that he wishes to stop taking chemotherapy for bone cancer, 13-year-old Tyrell Dueck and his family are now asking the Saskatoon District Health ethics committee to review his case.
They want the ethics committee to look into whether the family was within established boundaries in declining chemotherapy for Tyrell before a December court order took authority for Tyrell's health-care decisions from his parents, Tim and Yvonne, and gave it to the Department of Social Services.
The court order was made under provisions of Saskatchewan's Child and Family Services Act and addressed the decision being made by his parents, said the Duecks' lawyer, Owen Griffiths.
The focus of the matter has changed since March 1, when Tyrell said for himself that he no longer wants conventional cancer therapy, Griffiths said.
Under common law, children under the age of 18 should be allowed to make decisions about their own medical care if they are capable of understanding the consequences.
The Saskatoon Cancer Centre asked this week that Tyrell be interviewed by an impartial third party who could determine whether he was capable. The request shows disrespect for Tyrell's decision and is "an invasion into our lives and beliefs," Tim Dueck said in a news released issued Tuesday by Griffiths.
They now want to put off such an interview until after the ethics committee has completed its work, Griffiths said.
The Duecks also want the ethics committee to consider whether the doctor treating Tyrell should have followed the wishes of the family prior to the December court order.
They also want the committee to offer a way for the situation to be "amicably resolved."
Griffiths noted that on two occasions, the doctor asked Tyrell if he wanted to continue treatment. The first time, in the final week of February, Tyrell agreed to continue. The second time he asked, on March 1, Tyrell decided against it.
"It seems to me from the doctor's act of asking Tyrell whether or not he wanted to continue the treatment, that he thinks Tyrell has the capacity to do so," Griffiths said.
"At this point we only know of two recommended courses of treatment from the doctor. One is chemotherapy. And a very real possibility is the amputation of the leg.
"Given the court order that's in place now, there is a possibility that Social Services could apprehend Tyrell to have his leg amputated."
The family is not taking the matter up with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan because they do not have any complaints about the doctor.
"They don't want to make this situation any uglier than it already is," Griffiths said. "They're trying to look for a way to resolve this in the most efficient and peaceful manner possible."
Tyrell began using alternative therapies while he was taking chemotherapy and continues with those treatments, he said.
Tyrell Dueck, the 13-year-old Martensville boy who has been receiving alternative cancer treatment in Mexico, plans to come home next week.
Then it's off to Ottawa for more experimental therapy, and maybe even a National
Hockey League playoff game.
"He will have experimental therapy available in Canada," Michael Culbert, spokesperson for American Biologics in Tijuana, Mexico, said Thursday.
"Whatever he does in Canada will be a specific therapy," he said. "What we've done here is a mixed bag of therapies. He's had mixed metabolic therapy to detoxify him, to build up his immune system and to interfere with the malignant process."
According Culbert, after almost three weeks of alternative treatment in Mexico, the tumour in Tyrell's right knee has gone down considerably.
"In 95 out of 100 cases we are going to see some improvement, and so far Tyrell has been in that percentage," said Culbert, who will be in Saskatoon May 7 and 8 for a fund-raising supper and seminar.
Bill O'Neill, founder and director of the Canadian Cancer Research Group, an independent group of alternative therapists in Ottawa, has been in consultation with the Dueck family and American Biologics staff in Tijuana during the course of Tyrell's treatment.
O'Neill, whose clinic uses conventional and non-conventional treatment, said Tyrell's therapy in Ottawa would attempt to boost Tyrell's immune system against his bone cancer by introducing modified cancer cells taken for his tumour back into his body.
"The treatment would complement what is being done in Mexico and has proven to be successful, especially for those who don't respond to chemotherapy," he said in an interview from Ottawa on Thursday.
He said the medication had been approved in the U.S. and Canada. But according to a spokesperson for Health Canada, such a treatment has not been approved by Health Canada.
Oncologists in Saskatoon and Ottawa said this type of bone tumour treatment is not a routine cancer therapy and is not done by pediatricians in North America.
Becky Hildebrandt, Tyrell's aunt, said the family had been talking about continuing treatments in Ottawa, but will first return to Saskatchewan on Tuesday.
The Duecks have a standing offer from the Ottawa Senators to attend an NHL game as guests of the club.
Until they head east, Tyrell will continue with a specialized diet and supplements.
More details on Tyrell's condition, as well as when the next series of treatments will begin, will be released early next week after the Duecks are back in Canada, said Hildebrandt.
Meanwhile, Tyrell has had his "ups and downs, and last weekend had a little bit of a down," she said.
During the weekend Tyrell visited Sea World in nearby San Diego. "He had enjoyed it but had been a bit uncomfortable and had a little bit of pain," said Hildebrandt.
She said the Tyrell Dueck Cancer Recovery Fund has helped pay for the $5,900-a-day treatment in Mexico. She said estimated costs of Tyrell's treatment from the end of March to September will be around $65,000.
The fund has about $23,000 in it. The next fund-raiser will be on Wednesday in Saskatoon.
Tyrell was at the centre of controversy when Social Services twice took the Duecks to court to try and force him to undergo chemotherapy treatments against Tyrell's wishes. It dropped its objections to alternative therapies after Saskatoon
oncologists found the cancer had spread to his lungs. Since then, CAT scans performed in Mexico and the United States indicated that the cancer had not spread beyond his leg.
Although Social Services still has legal control over Tyrell's medical care, it has no plans to question the Ottawa therapy.
Tyrell Dueck limped into a hero's welcome at the Saskatoon airport wearing his usual infectious smile as controversy over his treatment and diagnosis lingered.
The 13-year-old Martensville boy returned from three weeks of treatment at the American Biologics clinic in Tijuana, Mexico for cancer in his leg. The Saskatoon airport was festooned with balloons, ribbons and banners as the dozens of
supporters who crowded the terminal cheered.
At the same time, the Saskatoon Cancer Centre waited for a response to its request for records of Tyrell's alternative medical treatment south of the border.
Tim Dueck, Tyrell's father, said Tyrell's Saskatoon doctor will be taking part in his future care, but Dueck didn't say if he will turn over the records.
"Time will tell. I don't want to stand here and debate all kinds of things. My main concern is Tyrell, as it has been right from the beginning," he said.
Following a court battle between the Dueck family and the Saskatchewan government last month, control over Tyrell's care was suddenly given back to the family when doctors in Saskatoon found the cancer had spread to his lungs.
He was given about a 10 per cent chance of surviving one year.
Doctors at the Mexican alternative clinic contradicted the diagnosis, saying tests in Mexico and the United States found his lungs to be cancer-free.
"I'm not going to say somebody was right, somebody was wrong," Tim Dueck said. "I know what they said here, I know what they said there. I know they contradict each other."
The Saskatoon Cancer Centre is simply following "standard medical practice" in asking for the charts and films, according to the centre's lawyer, Chris Boychuk.
"If somebody says you made a mistake, it's good practice to look at it," Boychuk said. "He's still going to be our patient, so it's also good practice to get as much information on your patient as you can."
The clinic still stands by its original diagnosis, he added.
Tyrell sat in the airport lounge with friends and cousins wearing a ball cap and jersey of the Detroit Red Wings - his favourite team - as his father answered questions. Marine-short blond hair showed through the back of his hat.
Dueck said his son's condition has improved since March under a regime of gene therapy, dietary supplements, herbs and laetrile, which is illegal in Canada and the United States.
All of the treatments are dismissed by conventional cancer doctors as unproven or useless.
"The tumour has decreased in size," Dueck said. "We saw a dramatic change in the beginning and then it leveled off. It's a waiting game, we're taking it one day at a time."
The family's travel costs and Tyrell's treatment bill total nearly $50,000, according to friends and family who have raised half that amount for the family.
Asked if the cost was worth it, Dueck replied: "It's early. Let's give it some time."
Tyrell has been given a take-home program of medicine to take for the next six months.
In the meantime, the Dueck's will consider more treatment options through the Canadian Cancer Research Group, an Ottawa alternative-care provider.
Bill O'Neill, the head of the organization, says it has advanced cancer diagnosis tools and can tailor alternative and traditional cancer treatment to individual cases.
"We want to get some blood from the kid to find out what's going on with him biochemically and metabolically," O'Neill said.
A Mexican border town is the legal haven for a controversial cancer treatment being sought by a Martensville couple for their 13-year-old son.
Tyrell Dueck's parents, Tim and Yvonne, are in a fight with the Saskatchewan government to allow him to stop standard cancer treatment in Saskatoon and seek alternative therapy in Tijuana, Mexico.
Through a combination of detoxification, diet and balancing the immune system with vitamins, minerals and other nutrients, officials with American Biologics says the body can heal itself, allowing a person to survive with cancer.
"We don't claim to have a magical cancer cure. In fact, we don't even think cancer is curable. We think it's controllable, like diabetes or hypertension," said company vice-president Mike Culbert.
The head office of American Biologics is in a San Diego-area suburb, but its hospital is located across the U.S.-Mexico border in Tijuana. For good reason, says Culbert.
"In the United States or Canada, about 80 per cent of what we do down here would be regarded as illegal, unproven, unbalanced," he said. "Almost everything is legal in Mexico unless the government has intervened specifically to say
something is illegal."
The American Biologics philosophy is that cancer is a whole-body illness. Individual tumours, such as the osteogenic carcoma that has grown in Dueck's knee, are simply the manifestation of the overall illness.
Dueck's doctor says he has a 65 per cent chance of survival if he undergoes chemotherapy and has his knee removed quickly. Without the treatment, the doctor says he will die within a year.
Culbert said those options would be considered as a last resort after other less invasive options were explored. The standard treatment proposed for Dueck may stop the tumour, but cancer will simply pop up elsewhere if the whole body is not treated, Culbert said. He said the Duecks have contacted the hospital.
"We work on individual biochemistry, not cookbook medicine where we can point and say, `Ah-hah,' and then cut something off."
According to Culbert, American Biologics has treated 22,000 patients in 23 years
operating in Tijuana. The company charges $3,900 US per week for the "normal
cancer package." A three-week stay is normally recommended for cancer patients.
A St. Brieux businessman is raising money for Dueck's proposed treatment. Culbert said while about 25 per cent of the hospital's patients survive for five years, 95 per cent of its patients are helped "in some meaningful way."
He said the survival rate for orthodox treatment is less than half of the hospital's rate.
Culbert said orthodox western medicine destroys the patient's body in order to fight cancer. More people die from cancer treatment than cancer, "but we're the ones who are outlaws and quacks" he said. "The orthodoxy is so ghastly, you'd be
better off to go home and do nothing. Voodoo and Christian science would be preferable to most orthodox approaches."
Dr. Max Coppes, director of the children's cancer program at the Alberta Children's Hospital in Calgary, said he would have one question for any alternative treatment provider.
"What evidence does this clinic have that their treatment is successful in this disorder?" he said.
Coppes said parents shouldn't settle for vague promises of improved health. Doctors should provide patients with specific, detailed information on treatments, side effects and expected results.
"The job of any cancer specialist is to provide you with the best information possible on the most successful treatments. How can I offer advice on treatments that have no information at all?" he said.
The bottom line is parents must get informed to choose the best path, he said.
"I would advise people to approach alternative treatments the same way they approach evidence-based medicine: Don't be afraid to challenge your doctor. Be critical."
SASKATOON (CP) - A Saskatchewan boy who fought for the right to refuse cancer treatment has died.
Tyrell Dueck died Wednesday night at St. Paul's hospital, the boy's aunt Becky Hildebrandt confirmed yesterday.
She said the family was upset and wanted privacy.
"We just need some time to deal with this," she said.
The 13-year-old boy from Martensville, just north of Saskatoon, made national headlines after Saskatchewan Social Services tried to take legal charge of his medical care.
Tyrell and his parents, fundamentalist Christians, refused chemotherapy and amputation to treat a tumour on his leg, opting instead for herbal and alternative remedies.
Social services dropped the case after doctors reported the cancer had spread to the lungs.
The Duecks did the right thing. Their faith was everything.
- Christine Crozon, raised funds for Tyrell
"I wish it had turned out differently," social services spokesperson Bill Carney said yesterday, adding the news had taken him by surprise. "We express our condolences."
Christine Crozon of Watson, Sask., worked with Prince Albert Citizens for Choice in Health Care to raise funds to defray the Dueck family's bills.
Tyrell's struggle "has shown us tremendous faith and courage," she said yesterday. "As far as I'm concerned, I have no doubt the Duecks did the right thing. Their faith was everything, as well their strong belief in alternative health care."
Tim and Yvonne Dueck ended up taking their son to an alternative treatment clinic in Tijuana, Mexico, where doctors at American Biologic clinic said there was no indication the cancer had spread.
Twice the province had taken the Dueck family to court in an effort to force Tyrell to submit to conventional treatment which would have included amputating his right leg.
At one point, a judge had ordered Dueck to undergo treatment. The boy steadfastly refused, saying prayer and herbal treatments could heal him.
The Tijuana clinic where he sought help offered treatments ranging from the use of herbs, vitamins and laetrile, an extract of apricot pits, to chemotherapy and radiation.
In an interview at the Tijuana clinic March 28, Tyrell said he was feeling better and was optimistic about the future.
Tim Dueck later said his son's tumour was shrinking.
Tyrell discovered a lump on his leg around his birthday, Oct. 1, after he slipped in the shower. Bone cancer was diagnosed. He and his family fought to avoid standard therapy, consisting of chemotherapy and at least the partial amputation of his leg, but he received two rounds of chemotherapy after a court order.
In January, Tyrell refused to continue conventional treatment, which doctors said had a good chance to save his life.
On March 18, Justice Allison Rothery found that Tyrell wasn't competent to make his own medical decisions.
She also upheld an earlier court order that gave the province the power to make medical decisions on Tyrell Dueck's behalf.
"He is a boy deeply under the influence of his father. The information that his father gives him is wrong and could place the child in medical peril," she said in the ruling.
"Tyrell does not appreciate or understand the medical treatment he requires. And Tyrell does not appreciate and understand that if he discontinues his chemotherapy and refuses surgery, he will die within a year from the spreading cancer."
After the judge's decision, Tyrell was admitted to a Saskatoon cancer clinic for tests to prepare him for chemotherapy. The results showed the cancer had spread to Tyrell's lungs.