An astoundingly inaccurate headline about the Daniel Hauser case

It’s a lovely, sunny day here, so I’ll be brief. I’ve written several posts about the case of Daniel Hauser, the 13-year-old who refused chemotherapy and is now on the run from the law with his mother to avoid having to comply with a judge’s order that he receive effective, science-based treatment. One strange aspect of this story is that he may be receiving aid from Billy Best, a man who, as a teen, also had Hodgkin’s disease and, at age 16, also ran away to avoid chemotherapy.

Here’s the story headline:

Man Who Survived Without Chemo: ‘I’d Still Fight’: Man Who Ran to Avoid Chemo in 1994, Says He’d Help Mom and Teen Now on the Lam

What’s so breathtakingly inaccurate about this headline? Easy. Billy Best actually did undergo at least a couple of rounds of curative chemotherapy for Hodgkin’s disease, possibly more, over four or five months before he decided to run away. He did not “survive without chemo.” Most likely, he survived because of chemo. But, like virtually everyone with an “alternative cancer cure testimonial,” he doesn’t attribute his good fortune in having survived 14 years to his conventional medical therapy. He attributes it to woo:

“I ran away because I believe the chemo was poisoning me and it would kill me before it cured me,” said Best.

In the past Best claimed that roots, Indian rhubarb and slippery elm helped him stay cancer-free, but told “GMA” on Saturday he “used something called 714-X.”

He’s also making disingenuous and dubious statements:

“That’s not an issue here,” said Best, who instead critiqued the widely circulated statistic that Daniel Hauser’s cancer would have 90 percent cure rate with chemotherapy.

From the video:

The 90% you’re talking about is a big issue because that’s an ideal statistic they’ll put out there. And I know that he’s had treatment and then stopped treatment. So, if he was to begin it, it wouldn’t be 90%, and that was something we talked about in court. So I just wish that people would understand that 90% I don’t think it applies to him at this time.

This is probably true, but even relapsed Hodgkin’s disease after a full course of treatment still has a good probability of complete remission. One figure I’ve seen quoted on the NCI website is around 75%. The woo that Daniel is pursuing provides about as close to a 0% chance as there is, and his odds of being cured fall the longer his mother keeps him away from effective treatment.

Billy Best is not a good example upon which to base decisions in the Daniel Hauser case, but that doesn’t stop him and other advocates of cancer quackery from pointing to him repeatedly as a “proof” that “alternative cancer cures” work.

Orac’s commentary

  1. Another child sacrificing himself on the altar of irrational belief
  2. Daniel Hauser and his rejection of chemotherapy: Is religion the driving force or just a convenient excuse?
  3. Judge John Rodenberg gives chemotherapy refusenik Daniel Hauser a chance to live
  4. Mike Adams brings home the crazy over the Daniel Hauser case
  5. The case of chemotherapy refusenik Daniel Hauser: I was afraid of this
  6. Chemotherapy versus death from cancer
  7. Chemotherapy refusenik Daniel Hauser: On the way to Mexico with his mother?
  8. An astoundingly inaccurate headline about the Daniel Hauser case
  9. Good news for Daniel Hauser!
  10. Daniel Hauser, fundraising, and “health freedom”