The Minnesota doctor who first treated 13-year-old Daniel Hauser said he has incorporated natural remedies in his practice for years, and was pained at watching the international chase for Daniel and his mother Colleen Hauser after they fled from court-ordered chemotherapy.
"They are good people. I just think they've been misled by some in the alternative medical community," said Dr. Bruce Bostrom, pediatric oncologist at the Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota in St. Paul and Minneapolis.
Bostrom has treated cancer in children for 20 years and in that time has adopted what he likes to call "integrative medicine" to manage the side effects of chemotherapy -- everything from herbs to acupuncture and something called therapeutic touch that uses energy fields to calm patients.
The Hauser family quit chemotherapy for Daniel after just one round, citing religious beliefs particular to the "do no harm" philosophy of the Nemenhah Band, a Missouri-based religious group that believes in natural healing methods advocated by some American Indians.
Colleen Hauser testified she found the Nemenhah Band on the Internet.
Bostrom said it's not uncommon for his patients' families to ask about alternative therapies they found online.
"There's a lot of misinformation, they go on the Internet, they find out things and when we meet them we have to explain," said Bostrom. "I think that everything used requires that it be evidence-based."
For some reason, Bostrom said Daniel and Colleen Hauser didn't listen to explanations that natural and complementary treatments would only help side effects, not cure cancer. Bostrom could only guess it had to do with Colleen's sister, who died while on chemotherapy.
"We think that a lot of these herbs could work with chemotherapy to make them stronger together," said Bostrom. "But there's no evidence that any of these herbal remedies are curative of cancer by themselves, using them as an alternative."
The entire time Hauser was missing, Bostrom said he hoped and prayed someone found the teen.
"I think he still can be cured and live a long life as a dairy farmer in southern Minnesota -- or whatever he wants to be," said Bostrom.
Daniel testified in court that he believed the chemo would kill him and told the judge in private testimony unsealed later that if anyone tried to force him to take it, "I'd fight it. I'd punch them and I'd kick them."
Modern drugs skyrocketed cure rates for childhood leukemia from 5 percent in the 1960s to 85 percent today. But Bostrom and other doctors are well aware that the lifesaving medicine comes with a heavy burden of side effects for the children to bear.
Jonathan Gould, 11, finished his final treatments for Hodgkin's lymphoma this fall. He said he was sad and scared when he heard the news, but "I was thinking more about going bald."
"The doctor said I don't have cancer -- I had Hodgkin's, which is less scary," said Gould, who received treatment at Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md.
He did go bald and while he was on chemotherapy -- which can last for the majority of the day for three days straight in the beginning -- he said he just wanted to sleep every day.