Let’s talk: Should these parents be able to deprive their child of chemotherapy?

It’s a controversial issue that has divided parents for some time now: should a parent be able to withhold medical

It’s a controversial issue that has divided parents for some time now: should a parent be able to withhold medical treatment from their child if they think it’s in their best interest?

The debate has arisen once again following a court order in Western Australia where a judge ruled the parents of six-year-old Oshin take him to hospital for chemotherapy treatment for his cancer.

Oshin’s parents, Angela Kiszko and Colin Strachan, had previously refused to take him for treatment of the grounds that they did not want him to become a “lab rat”.

Instead they wanted to put their son in palliative care.

Oshin was diagnosed with medulloblastoma, a type of brain tumour, last December and even with treatment his chances of survival are low.

The court was told Oshin had a 30 per cent chance of surviving more than five years on chemotherapy, and a 50 per cent chance on chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

If he survives he will also have to live with devastating side effects from the tumour.


Ms Kiszko said she did not want to put her son through the treatment after seeing what it had done to her mother and step-mother – both of whom died of cancer.

“I have watched and learned what all these children and their families go through and it is nothing short of toxic hell,’ she said, reports the West Australian.

“The children are not really alive, they are completely drugged and exhausted and on the verge of death.

“It almost feels like Nazi Germany and I am honestly sickened by the treatment of all these children.”

In making his ruling though, Family Court chief justice Stephen Thackray said the chance of a cure in the future “is the matter that most heavily must weigh in the decision”.

A friend of the family’s has started an online petition to “stop forced medical treatment”, saying Oshin’s parents have been “treated as criminals” after opting not to let their son have “debilitating chemotherapy and radiation treatment”.

“They were told if he were to survive the treatment, he would be severely incapacitated for the rest of his life,” the petition reads.

“The parents opted not to do this and were more confident in following specialist, non-invasive treatments available offshore. That was when the nightmare began.

“Then four months after the initial diagnosis, the parents were summoned to the Family Court in Western Australia, where the judge used the legal power bestowed on him to override the parents decision… against their will and with the understanding that the chance of survival was not good.

“Please give these parents a voice… This is about having the right to choose.”

What are your thoughts on this issue? Should parents have the right to withhold medical treatment from their children?

  1. Linda Reid  

    Will the judge be there 24×7 as support for the child and parents for the next 5 years. I doubt it.
    So cruel to put a small child through let alone the family watching this terrible disease.

  2. Joy  

    research and go to Germany for hyperthermia treatment of cancer

  3. Ruth Sullivan  

    Is there any possibility of immunotherapy treatment? There are seemingly huge development with the trials. Personally I would not do go with chemo either.

  4. Barbara  

    I believe it is wholly the parents right…I am a nurse who has seen 2 sisters go through chemo…both survived with side effects that are lifelong and devastating …I would choose not to have chemo myself…modern medicine does not have all the answers.

  5. For a small child like this boy, it should be the parents decision. The stuff about a cure, what a load of rubbish, that will not happen in the next 10 years – I will bet $100 on that with the doctor/judge – and that will possibly be too late for this boy. I finished chemo almost 3 years ago, so I know what I am talking about, it is horrible, absolutely horribly, and how do you explain that to a 5-6 year old. Will the judge be around to do that?? Well, I didn’t think so. And if this is going to be the future, why isn’t parents forced to vaccinate their children? What’s the difference??

  6. Jo  

    Absolutely the parents call…lost a gorgeous friend to cancer last year and would never opt to put a child through the lab rat treatment. This has added an enormous emotional load to a family already going through their worst nightmare. The only thing I would have suggested would be an opinion from Dr Charlie Teo, a kind man with a wonderful compassionate approach

    • Jenny Beattie  

      do you think Dr Charles Teo would give his opinion what a good idea. I would not put my child through it either.

    • Christine Evans  

      Dr Teo has even put statement out saying chemo is not the best for Brain Tumours but Immunotherapy may work in some instances. I pray that Dr Teo has the opportunity ti take this child into his care and maybe really help him.

  7. Trish  

    my daughter had chemo and radiation, before she started she had a life, when treatment started it was horrible for a mum to watch a vibrant full of life girl go down to no life, without the treatment she would have had a life for 17 months but died 17 months later and no quality of life, would never wish it on anyone.

  8. Carole Tucker  

    Parents are his legal guardians, should be their call. It’s not as if it is some stupid belief as in some cases like the vaccination debarcle, no blood transfusions etc. This is an illness that is not going to be 100% cure.

  9. its a decision i would never want to make .its sad the child is sick but i would not like to see him suffer unecessrly if the outcome is the same with or without i cant see the point

  10. moira  

    It should be left to the parents.If it was only a transfusion that was needed for a simple anaemia or similar and went against parents religious beliefs,then I would say a judge would be correct to overrule the parent’s
    decision.However having seen my beloved dog go through 6 months of chemo I would never do it to another pet,let alone a child.Particularly when the odds appear to be so low.

  11. Anne Wolski  

    I have watched people suffer from the effects of chemotherapy, only to die a short time later anyway. It should be up to the parents of this little boy. Let him enjoy the time he has left with his loving family instead of being connected to tubes and so forth and dying a slow, toxic death

    • Judy  

      I agree Anne, it is the parents choice, they are well informed and aware of the outcome with or without treatment, let them choose.

  12. No, I have nursed adults with this type of tumour, it is a slow, vile end, better he is palliative, kept free from pain and allowed to go quickly

    • Mark BLades  

      I know what this family is going through too after loosing my son at the age 26 months from a brain tumour too and lets give this family and others who are going through the same thing all the help support we can . ive shared this so many times on face book and said my piece on their too .lets push it so it goes viral all over the world and maybe it will get the attention from the government and they will step in and help .

    • Lyn van Vuuren  

      Thank you Cathy Howat for being humane

    • Emily  

      In the USA currently, there’s a couple up on murder charges, as their child died as a result of their refusal to allow a blood transfusion, due their cult’s belief.

      Am pleased Court intervened with the child minders’ here to force chemo, & any other medical requirements for the 6yo. The fact the boy’s already lost a month’s worth of treatment is bad enough, through his minders’ shilly-shallying with ‘Asian Vegetable juice’. It’d be laughable, if it wasn’t so damn serious!

      There’s been more than enough persons’ saved to live longer, by NORMAL Western medical practice.

      BTW, my Mother had breast cancer, causing a mastectomy. She had all the additional treatment, which allowed her to live a very healthy, & busy life for another 11 years’, running her own business. And looking after me, as a child at the time, as well.

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