Chemotherapy; An ethical perspective

by AlexR on Février 16, 2015 - 9:33am

The case of the young native Makayla Sault, the girl who refused cancer treatment, raised a lot of debate during the last month. After her first month of chemotherapy, she (and her parents) decided to get on holistic medicine and leave chemo. Unfortunately, Makayla passed away. Her parents claim that her death was caused by the treatment, when specialists blame the cancer itself. Everyone should have the right to decide how to cure (or not) themself, that is why I think not leaving someone make its own choice is unethical.

 Makayla Sault was suffering from a cancer, more precisely an acute lymphoblastic leukemia [ALL]. According to a specialist, 80 to 90% of the children with ALL can be cured today with the “proven medicine”. I put proven medicine in quotes because like the parents of Makayla, I do not believe in chemotherapy. First of all, most anti-cancer drug will cause another cancer later in the life of the patient. According to a study, 17.6 percent of survivors will develop unrelated cancer in the next 15 years (CMJ, 1991).  Also, “heart damage can occur weeks, months or years after treatment, signalled by rapid heart beat, shortness of breath, distended neck veins, swollen ankles, enlarged liver and heart. Up to 30 percent of high-dose Doxorubicin-recipients develop congestive heart failure (CMJ, 1991).” Finally, “immune system damage is almost universal. The whole panoply of blood diseases is seen: thrombocytopenia with its loss of white blood cells that guard against infection; severe bone marrow hypoplasia; inability to synthesize fibrinogen; abnormally long bleeding time; granulocytopenia. Resulting infections can be treated with antibiotics, but these can bring their own set of side effects (CMJ, 1991).” To add to the fact that chemotherapy is a matter of choice, a 17 years old girl from Connecticut decided to say no to chemo because she wanted to enjoy the last day that remains. She claims that she is more interested in the “quality of what life she has left, not the quantity (Shapiro, 2015).” As we can observe using our logic, this “proven medicine” can save your life, but you will be mortgage with health problems for the rest of your life. You don’t survive cancer, you survive chemotherapy.

On the other hand, some people say that chemotherapy is worth doing because it gives you the chance to survive. It’s a fact that some people have survived cancer using chemotherapy, but at what cost? Chemotherapy decreases considerably your life quality and life expectancy. It can causes other diseases and reduce the strength of your immune system. I think one have to ask itself what are their priorities; a short but enjoyable life, or a long but problem-filled life. 

Please, take a look at this:

Original title: Makayla Sault likely died from rebounding cancer, not chemotherapy effects: specialist

Article written by Tom Blackwell for The National Post on January 20, 2015

Active link:

Work Cited:

"The Truth About Chemotherapy Side Effects." Nutrition Health Review: The Consumer's Medical Journal 58 (1991): 10. Academic Search Premier. Web. 16 Feb. 2015.

Shapiro, Emily. "Home Health Connecticut Teenager Explains Why She Doesn't Want Chemotherapy Treatment." AbcNews 11 Jan. 2015. AbcNews. Web. 16 Feb. 2015. <


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