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July 2, 1999
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`The Duecks did the right thing. Their faith was everything.'
- Christine Crozon, raised funds for Tyrell

Cancer boy who refused treatment dies

TYRELL DUECK: Treated for bone cancer in an alternative clinic in Mexico.

Went to court to fight for right to use alternatives

SASKATOON (CP) - A Saskatchewan boy who fought for the right to refuse cancer treatment has died.

Tyrell Dueck died Wednesday night at St. Paul's hospital, the boy's aunt Becky Hildebrandt confirmed yesterday.

She said the family was upset and wanted privacy.

``We just need some time to deal with this,'' she said.

The 13-year-old boy from Martensville, just north of Saskatoon, made national headlines after Saskatchewan Social Services tried to take legal charge of his medical care.

Tyrell and his parents, fundamentalist Christians, refused chemotherapy and amputation to treat a tumour on his leg, opting instead for herbal and alternative remedies.

Social services dropped the case after doctors reported the cancer had spread to the lungs.

``I wish it had turned out differently,'' social services spokesperson Bill Carney said yesterday, adding the news had taken him by surprise. ``We express our condolences.''

Christine Crozon of Watson, Sask., worked with Prince Albert Citizens for Choice in Health Care to raise funds to defray the Dueck family's bills.

Tyrell's struggle ``has shown us tremendous faith and courage,'' she said yesterday. ``As far as I'm concerned, I have no doubt the Duecks did the right thing. Their faith was everything, as well their strong belief in alternative health care.''

Tim and Yvonne Dueck ended up taking their son to an alternative treatment clinic in Tijuana, Mexico, where doctors at American Biologic clinic said there was no indication the cancer had spread.

Twice the province had taken the Dueck family to court in an effort to force Tyrell to submit to conventional treatment which would have included amputating his right leg.

At one point, a judge had ordered Dueck to undergo treatment. The boy steadfastly refused, saying prayer and herbal treatments could heal him.

The Tijuana clinic where he sought help offered treatments ranging from the use of herbs, vitamins and laetrile, an extract of apricot pits, to chemotherapy and radiation.

In an interview at the Tijuana clinic March 28, Tyrell said he was feeling better and was optimistic about the future.

Tim Dueck later said his son's tumour was shrinking.

Tyrell discovered a lump on his leg around his birthday, Oct. 1, after he slipped in the shower. Bone cancer was diagnosed. He and his family fought to avoid standard therapy, consisting of chemotherapy and at least the partial amputation of his leg, but he received two rounds of chemotherapy after a court order.

In January, Tyrell refused to continue conventional treatment, which doctors said had a good chance to save his life.

On March 18, Justice Allison Rothery found that Tyrell wasn't competent to make his own medical decisions.

She also upheld an earlier court order that gave the province the power to make medical decisions on Tyrell Dueck's behalf.

``He is a boy deeply under the influence of his father. The information that his father gives him is wrong and could place the child in medical peril,'' she said in the ruling.

``Tyrell does not appreciate or understand the medical treatment he requires. And Tyrell does not appreciate and understand that if he discontinues his chemotherapy and refuses surgery, he will die within a year from the spreading cancer.''

After the judge's decision, Tyrell was admitted to a Saskatoon cancer clinic for tests to prepare him for chemotherapy. The results showed the cancer had spread to Tyrell's lungs.

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