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What Would You Do If Your Child Got Cancer? Part 2 of 3

Robyn Openshaw, MSW - Mar 01, 2012 - This Post May Contain Affiliate Links

I met Parker Jensen’s family nearly a decade ago when Parker was told he had Ewing’s Sarcoma, a rare but deadly cancer of the bone/soft tissues. Parker’s grandfather was a holistic healer and chiropractor, and Parker’s parents are educated and tenacious about protecting and caring for their five children.

I met the family because I published my fury in all the Utah papers, as a guest editorialist, when the State of Utah swooped in to try to take custody of Parker from his parents when they got on a plane to get a true “second opinion” at the Burzynski Clinic in Houston, and the State of Utah’s Attorney General Mark Shurtleff legally blocked them from going to Texas!

My home state actually sent a helicopter to pick Daren up in Idaho because he dared to leave Utah with Parker after Primary Children’s Medical Center demanded he undergo 11 months of chemotherapy immediately. They were told they had to have a needle in Parker’s arm Aug. 8. If not, they’d have an evidentiary hearing. On Aug. 12, they took the kids to Idaho to drop them off so Daren, Barbara, and Parker could go to the Burzynski Clinic in Houston for a true second opinion and other treatment options.

The doctor and the Attorney General went to the D.A. and lied to them to obtain warrants for Parker and both his parents. They were then blocked by the A.G. from going to Burzynski, and the clinic in Houston was informed that they were to turn the Jensens in to the authorities if they arrived.

Daron, an IT executive, was arrested and briefly went to jail in Idaho. Wore an orange jumpsuit and ate off a plastic tray.

Thank goodness Daren and Barbara Jensen listened to their own research, intuition, and anxiety about the very dubious diagnosis. (A lab in Washington had called the flap of skin removed by a dentist from Parker’s mouth and called it “probable” Ewing’s Sarcoma.)

Because Parker is now 22 years old and never got sick. He just returned from an LDS mission in Chile. He mostly likely never had Ewing’s sarcoma. If he did, it was quickly corrected with the holistic treatments the Jensens sought for their son, working with a preeminent doctor in Austria.

Parker never underwent chemo, radiation, or surgeries, and his family is thankful for that, since Parker is now an adult and will have the opportunity to have children, which he would not have had if treated by chemo and radiation—that is, if he even survived 11 months of it. On Tuesday of this week, Parker opened the 2012 session of the Utah State legislature.

Our attorney general, Mark Shurtleff, loudly denounced the family’s neglect to international news outlets even though he lived in their neighborhood and never took the time to meet with them and learn their side of the story. I watched the way Mr. Shurtleff handled this and another case I was involved with, and my respect for him plumetted. I met with Attorney General Shurtleff twice and in so doing, gained no more faith in him or his office’s interest in learning the truth and doing what’s right in these cases. (I also had to request a meeting with him 17 times.) They seemed intent on CYA rather than the plight of these kids and parents in the sights of the state of Utah.

Worse, Daron and Barbara Jensen spent 7 years fighting in court to recoup the hundreds of thousands of dollars they lost in earnings and legal fees during the fight. They sued Utah to uphold the rights of parents to determine medical choices. Last year, they lost in the Utah Supreme Court.

I also once spoke with Ed Wernecke on the phone, whose daughter Katie made national news, refusing a second round of chemo for her Hodgkin’s Disease. Ed was arrested and harassed and Katie was taken from her family by the state, in Texas, and forced into more chemotherapy. (If any of my Texas friends can point me to Ed or get me updated on Katie, I would appreciate it. My phone numbers are obsolete.)

Abraham Cherrix won his petition likely because he was 16 and old enough to make his wishes known.

The State of Utah finally abandoned trying to force Parker into chemo, thanks only to the tenacity of Parker’s father.

Posted in: Health Concerns, Relationships

15 thoughts on “What Would You Do If Your Child Got Cancer? Part 2 of 3”

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  1. Chemo and radiation have never been about healing the patient but instead about building new hospitals. We see people every single day who have (previously) had their insurance and life savings decimated by treatments and then told to “go home” by their doctors. (Most of these people addressed their cancer naturally with great success.) Hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars in treatments that cause as much harm to the person as the cancer (along with very low survival rates) have finally opened the eyes of the public. I think the government (at any level) has no business in health care. These elected officials can rarely balance their respective budgets much less determine the best care for an individual. Unfortunately the medical field has a great deal of money to influence the political spectrum. It is changing slowly but only because of a groundswell by the public that demands it.


  2. Anonymous says:

    I find this shocking and frightening! I hope to God that I’m never in a situation like this, where parental rights are completely thrown out the window – let alone the possibility of my child getting cancer.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I wonder if Mark Shurtleff would have a different position now that he has cancer.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I wonder if Mark Shurtleff would have a different position now that he has had cancer.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I know all to well what I would do. Hind sight is 20/20 and I would do it a lot different now. I tried to get in contact with you last year when my son was still fighting cancer, but got emails returned and found it very difficult with everything else I was dealing with. He passed away late in the year from all the crap they (established conventional medical doctors) did to him. It was not until close to the end that I found out about other options that could have helped or even saved his life. Wish I had understood more about food and health and what eating the wrong way can do to us a lot sooner. Keep fighting for those who don’t have the knowledge or strength. Thanks, Ginger C

    1. Robyn Openshaw, MSW says:

      Ginger, that breaks my heart. I am so sorry.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for raising awareness about this issue. Without going into too much detail here, I’ll say that I dealt with this some with treatments for my kid’s birth defect and foregoing certain “public health necessities”. I spent the first few months of my sweet little baby’s life scared to death that the hospital would swoop down on us. I was so scared because I knew how few rights we had about how we wanted our baby treated. My husband tried to tell me that they couldn’t do anything because of how healthy our baby is, but I knew it wouldn’t make a difference if a doctor said otherwise. There were a lot of things we didn’t like that we had to do like unnecessary x-rays (where all the adults in the room had to wear lead aprons, but my baby was given no protection) and unnecessary tests that were painful and uncomfortable for my little boy. And when the results from all the tests and scans would come back normal, they couldn’t believe it and would find some reason for us to bring him back in to be tested again. My child is doing far, far better most with the same condition because of the other options we’ve pursued (which we do not talk about in front of doctors), but the doctors think that’s abnormal and there must be something wrong for him to have such good health. We have to walk a line and do the best we can because there is so little health freedom in this country. I thank God for a husband who was strong enough to stand and navigate us through some of the issues and take care of us.

    1. Robyn Openshaw, MSW says:

      Nicole, tell your husband he’s my hero. Good for you. I am sure that was scary. Glad your son is doing well!

  7. Anonymous says:

    What is shocking to me is how these parents were actually treated and dealt with when they were acting as parents. Too many bad parents go overlooked, but in this case, the good guys get the evil eye and worse. Shame on the US Supreme Court. It’s a true disgrace.

    1. Robyn Openshaw, MSW says:

      Well, it was the Utah Supreme Court, rather than the U.S. But yes. The state should have been made to pay for what it did to the Jensen family. Daren lost his job, in the chaos, and they spent at least $100k, I believe, defending themselves.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Do you know if there has ever been any legislation written to make insurance companies have to pay for alternative treatments?

    1. Robyn Openshaw, MSW says:

      Melanie, the chiropractic profession successfully won that battle decades ago for itself. There have been small inroads, but of course “alternative treatments” is a HUGE can of worms, and insurance companies shouldn’t rightly be made to pay everything under the sun. (That said, we have massive problems with a monopoly on health care held by Big Pharma and surgeries and technologies, of course.)

  9. Anonymous says:

    These kind of stories are so frightening and upsetting.

  10. Anonymous says:

    I remember this story very well and that the media seemed to take the side of the Doctors and portray the parents as being weird for not going through with the chemo. I don’t remember the media covering the story that the Doctors missed diagnosed Parker and that they were completely wrong. Very sad. This isn’t the freedom our founding fathers fought so valiantly for.

    1. Robyn Openshaw, MSW says:

      Laura, the media in Utah was shockingly biased. It was a terrible but important eye opener for me. They did, indeed, make the parents out to be crazy and the state honorable. Quite the opposite was true. The state has done nothing to care for Parker since abandoning its agenda…..while his parents have raised a wonderful recently returned missionary.

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