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Deborah Ray Interviews

Abraham Cherrix and Sharon Smith Posted February 2, 2009

Sharon Smith, who became the spokesperson for the Cherrix family, joins us with Abraham Cherrix to bring us an update on Abraham’s story. Abraham faced cancer at age 15, chose not to use chemotherapy a second time sparking a custody battle with the state of VA, and became the face that launched Abraham’s Law in VA to guarantee freedom of health care choice for families and their children facing terminal diagnoses when their wishes conflict with conventional cancer care. We celebrate Abraham’s recovery and desire at age 18 to now help others as he chooses his career path for his life.

We’ve had a lot of requests for more information on 17-year Abraham Cherrix and his battle against Hodgkin’s disease. He recently headed back to Mississippi for a third round of radiation therapy and his most recent scan showed a small dark spot on his right lung, for which he will receive pinpoint radiation treatment.

You might remember that Abraham and his family fought the court system on the Eastern Shore last year to pursue nontraditional cancer treatment. After turning to an alternative treatment in Mexico for his lymphatic cancer in spring 2006 (Hoxsey), his parents were charged with medical neglect and lost partial custody of Abraham. A Virginia juvenile judge ordered Abraham to return to chemotherapy last July, a decision that made news across the globe. In August, that decision was reversed by a court-ordered compromise in which Abraham agreed to a blend of conventional and innovative treatment. Since then, he’s been treated with radiation therapy and immunotherapy – supplements and medicines to bolster the immune system – by Dr. Arnold Smith, a radiation oncologist in Greenwood, Miss. Abraham and his mother said they were disappointed by the most recent tumor the scan showed but pleased that the cancer did not appear anywhere else. “I look at the bright side: There’s no other cancer, just a little spot; let’s go in and kill it,” he said in a telephone interview from his new home in the western Virginia town of Floyd. Abraham; his mother, Rose Cherrix; and his four siblings moved from Chincoteague to Floyd in May. Rose and Abraham’s father Jay Cherrix divorced earlier this year. The family’s island house was foreclosed upon in February after their kayaking business lost money during their battle against the court and cancer. Abraham’s first radiation treatment at the Mississippi center was last fall and focused on two tumors, one in his neck and one near his windpipe. In December, a scan showed five new tumors, one each in the lymph nodes under his arms, one near his collarbone and two in his lower left lung. He returned to Mississippi in January for radiation. “The cancer’s not on the level that it was before, so what we are doing is working,” Rose Cherrix said. She said Abraham probably would be in Mississippi four or five weeks.

AAHF worked with Virginia lawmakers in getting “Abraham’s Law” passed earlier this year which was then signed by the Governor. The law went into effect on July 1, 2007.