- The Canadian Press
- Quebec-Ontario regional general news, Monday, January 24, 2000 - 24:50
- AM HEALTH Girl Cancer
- The Canadian Press
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Relatives say the seizure has apparently caused brain damage, loss of vision and some loss of motor skills.
- 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.
- But instead of shrinking, Rosemari's tumor has grown since she began the treatment at the beginning of the year.
- The tumour was diagnosed about two months ago when she awoke with a severe headache and had trouble seeing.
- 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.
- Her parents opted to take her to Houston after learning about Burzynski's clinic on the Internet.
- 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.
- Ponekovic said the girl's parents, Steve and Georgina, thought it best to return to Hamilton to be near family and friends.
- The Brezaks stayed at a hotel near the clinic where Rosemari got her hour-long treatments intravenously at four-hour intervals.
- 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.
- Burzynski said the assessment on his treatment was conducted improperly.
- Friends and relatives of the family have been actively fundraising to pay for the treatments, which are not covered by OHIP.
- "The support has been unbelievable," the girl's aunt said.
- (Hamilton Spectator)
- © 2000 The Canadian Press. All rights reserved.
- Document number: news·20000124·CP·0276
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