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AM HEALTH Girl Cancer

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  1. The Canadian Press
  2. Quebec-Ontario regional general news, Monday, January 24, 2000 - 24:50
  3.  
  4. AM HEALTH Girl Cancer
  5.  
  6. The Canadian Press
  7.  
  8. HAMILTON (CP) - A 12-year-old girl taken to Texas with the hope a controversial treatment would shrink her rapidly growing brain tumor was airlifted back to Canada over the weekend.
  9.  
  10. Rosemari Brezak, 12, of nearby Stoney Creek, was flown to a Hamilton hospital by a private air ambulance service on Saturday night, with her parents by her side.
  11.  
  12. They pulled the Grade 7 student from the alternative treatment she'd been receiving at a cancer clinic in Houston, Texas after she suffered a massive seizure last Wednesday and had to be taken to hospital.
  13.  
  14. Relatives say the seizure has apparently caused brain damage, loss of vision and some loss of motor skills.
  15.  
  16. Rosemari's treatment at the clinic involved intravenous doses of a substance called antineoplaston. Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski, who runs the centre, says the treatment shrinks tumors.
  17.  
  18. But instead of shrinking, Rosemari's tumor has grown since she began the treatment at the beginning of the year.
  19.  
  20. The tumour was diagnosed about two months ago when she awoke with a severe headache and had trouble seeing.
  21.  
  22. Doctors at Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children said they could attempt aggressive radiation therapy, but the effect on the cancer would be uncertain and the side effects severe.
  23.  
  24. Her parents opted to take her to Houston after learning about Burzynski's clinic on the Internet.
  25.  
  26. On Wednesday, she "suffered a very bad seizure and hasn't been able to talk," said the girl's aunt, Julie Ponekovic, who returned from Houston on Sunday night.
  27.  
  28. Ponekovic said the girl's parents, Steve and Georgina, thought it best to return to Hamilton to be near family and friends.
  29.  
  30. The Brezaks stayed at a hotel near the clinic where Rosemari got her hour-long treatments intravenously at four-hour intervals.
  31.  
  32. Burzynski says antineoplastens are part of the body's biochemical defence system and can inhibit cancer-cell growth. The only independent scientific assessment of his treatment found it offered no benefit and was potentially harmful to some patients.
  33.  
  34. Burzynski said the assessment on his treatment was conducted improperly.
  35.  
  36. Friends and relatives of the family have been actively fundraising to pay for the treatments, which are not covered by OHIP.
  37.  
  38. "The support has been unbelievable," the girl's aunt said.
  39.  
  40. (Hamilton Spectator)
  41.  
  42. © 2000 The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.
  43.  
  44. Document number: news·20000124·CP·0276