The family of a 3-year-old Canadian boy has declined chemotherapy for him and instead opted alternative treatment in view of the pain chemo could cause to him.
The Ontario hospital where he is receiving treatment said it would not press the Quebec health authorities to force chemo on the boy either.
The hospital had earlier expressed its concern about the boy's health and referred the case to Quebec's regional youth protection agency, but it declined to intervene.
Anael L'Esperance-Nascimento, from Ripon, north of Ottawa, was diagnosed with cancerous cells in his brain and bone marrow last fall.
He was treated at the Ontario hospital, but then his parents decided to consider alternative treatment because he wasn't getting better.
Belanger said doctors disapproved of the family's decision to interrupt treatment but were keeping in touch and still providing some level of care.
"We don't jump the gun every time the parent says something we disagree with," Belanger said. "But in this particular case, for reasons that I can't go into, we decided that we disagreed with the course of treatment the family had chosen."
The alternative treatment involves a diet of raw vegetables developed by Florida's Hippocrates Health Institute which "is dedicated to the belief that a pure enzyme-rich diet, complemented by positive thinking and non-invasive therapies, are essential elements on the path to optimum health" according to its web site.
On Saturday some 300 people held a rally at Gatineau health food store to raise money for Anael's treatment.
Joining the crowd was Laurie Anne Prince, who says the Hippocrates method helped her beat breast cancer. She has since started giving conferences promoting alternative treatment and a similar diet based on raw vegetables. "It gives the body the tools necessary to fight cancer," said Prince, who adds she dropped using a wheelchair and tests now showed her cancer to be inactive. "I'm not completely healed, but I am healthier, I should be dead," she said.
It's not unusual for families to seek complementary alternative medicines, said Belanger, but this doesn't necessarily mean patients should interrupt hospital treatment.
The child's condition was improving according to reports, but his mom said she would not hesitate to resort to chemotherapy if the current method failed.