New Credit First Nation girl Makayla Sault is essentially free to refuse chemotherapy, but not everyone agrees with her decision to do so.
The Children's Aid Society of Brant met with Sault's parents on Tuesday and said they would close their investigation, effectively allowing the Ojibwe girl to opt for traditional medicine instead, The National Post reported.
Authorities had initially stepped in when she opted to stop chemotherapy and undergo Six Nations medicine known as "Ongwehowe Onǫhgwatri:yo:"
"The more we looked at it we realized that this is a warm, loving family," executive director Andy Koster told the newspaper.
"We don't believe that bringing her into care, taking her away from that family — which is her support — and forcing chemotherapy, is going to be in any way emotionally sound for her, or psychologically or even spiritually."
Sault, 11, is living with a form of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) known as "Philadelphia chromosome-positive."
She underwent chemotherapy at McMaster Children's Hospital for 11 weeks before the disease went into remission.
Sault told her story in a heartfelt YouTube video that was posted last week, saying that she feels sick all the time and has lost weight because she can't keep food down.
"I know that what I have can kill me, but I don’t want to die in a hospital in chemo, weak and sick," Sault said.
Her mother Sonya told CBC News that her daughter "hasn't had one side effect being on traditional medicine."
But not everyone agrees with Sault's decision to forgo chemotherapy.
National Post columnist Christie Blatchford wrote Wednesday that allowing Sault to refuse the treatment could put her future in doubt.
She cited a 2009 study in which researchers at B.C. Children's Hospital added a drug called imatinib to regular chemotherapy treatments, and found that with intensive dosing of both, "event free survival" doubled for children and teens living with Sault's form of ALL.
A follow-up study published earlier this year found that positive outcomes for people with that form of cancer had jumped from 25 to 70 per cent when undergoing both treatments.
"In other words, her doctors at McMaster had good reason to believe she has a real shot at beating this thing — and that stopping the treatment, after only one round, would put her at risk."
Toronto writer Heather Cleland told her own story of going through chemotherapy in The Globe and Mail on Thursday.
Diagnosed with cancer at 19 years old, she underwent treatment and felt horrible for eight months, losing her hair and suffering lung damage.
But eventually, she recovered, finished a master's degree, became engaged and travelled the world for nine months.
"Chemotherapy is the only reason I was able to do all those things. So was it worth it? Worth the major changes, the interruptions, the nausea, the hair loss, the crying, the fear, the what ifs? Absolutely," she wrote.
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