Saturday, June 9, 2007

Serious Second Thoughts

This morning, Nicole and I started reading the details of the next phase of the study Ben is participating in (technically, the next phase is a separate study, and it requires a separate consent). We had understood there to be very little difference among the four different treatments Ben might get under this study, but we now know that the study is about intensified treatment. Ben would get either the currently standard treatment for "standard risk" ALL, the currently standard treatment for "high risk" ALL, or one of two treatments in between. What this means is that, if Ben participates in the study, he would have a 75% chance of getting more intensive treatment with the accompanying more intensive side effects.

So we are hesitant. We know that Ben probably will survive this disease because many children before him participated in studies like these, and we want to help other kids in the same way. But at the same time, we want to protect Ben from the pain of cancer treatment as much as we can, and it is not clear whether it is right to put a child through additional pain to help other kids. At the same time, it is quite possible that Ben might have a better chance of surviving the disease if he gets the more intensive treatment. So we'll have to think long and hard about this. We also need to consider whether and to what extent we should involve Ben in the decision. Not easy stuff.

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