Daniel Hauser done with chemotherapy

Daniel Hauser
Daniel Hauser, 13, who has Hodgkin's lymphoma, recently finished his chemo treatments.
MPR Photo/Sea Stachura

A cancer-stricken Minnesota teenager who once fled the state with his mother to avoid chemotherapy has finished the treatments he so despised and likely will begin radiation in October.

Daniel Hauser, 13, went through his final chemotherapy treatment Thursday at Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota in Minneapolis, his family said.

"It's really nice that he's done," his mother, Colleen Hauser, told The Associated Press on Friday. "We're happy, that's for sure."

Daniel, a freckled-faced boy from Sleepy Eye in southern Minnesota, was diagnosed with childhood Hodgkin's lymphoma in January and stopped chemotherapy after one round because it made him sick.

He and his family opted instead for alternative treatments inspired by American Indian traditions. The issue ended up in court because doctors say Daniel's type of cancer is highly curable with chemotherapy.

A judge ordered in May that Daniel see an oncologist and follow the recommended treatment. Daniel and his mother instead fled Minnesota and became subject of a search that extended into Mexico.

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They returned after about a week and said they would abide by the court's order even though the boy was against it.

The family has been following the order since May and also has been using alternative therapies, such as massage, herbs and other remedies, to complement the medical treatment, according to court documents.

On July 27, Brown County District Judge John Rodenberg wrote:

"Daniel's lymphoma appears to be responding well to the chemotherapy" and he ordered that the treatment continue. X-rays taken after Daniel resumed chemotherapy in May showed the size of his tumor shrank significantly, according to court documents.

Still, Daniel has said chemotherapy is poison, and he told the AP in June that it made him sick, dizzy and tired.

"Danny was dead set against the chemical treatment from the first day," said Dan Zwakman, a family spokesman.

He noted that at one point, Daniel went on a 9-day hunger strike to protest the chemotherapy. During one treatment, he physically pushed a nurse, Zwakman said.

"He was a stubborn customer," Zwakman said. "He doesn't want anybody to ever go through this like he did."

Zwakman said Daniel's doctor modified the chemotherapy medications during treatment, which helped ease some side effects. Zwakman and Joseph Rymanowski, an attorney for the parents, said the number of treatments Daniel was expected to receive was shortened.

"He was supposed to get two more courses of chemo and they said that was unnecessary at this time," Rymanowski said.

Daniel's doctor, Bruce Bostrom, declined to comment, but confirmed the chemotherapy portion of Daniel's treatment has concluded.

Dr. Joseph Neglia, head of pediatric oncology at the University of Minnesota Amplatz Children's Hospital, said doctors will sometimes use the "rapidity of response" to guide the intensity and sometimes the duration of therapy.

"When we see somebody who has a very chemosensitive disease, that's a sign they may require less therapy," Neglia said.

The Hausers have expressed fear about future complications, citing that as one reason for resisting the chemotherapy. They now fear radiation will "melt" Daniel's thyroid or cause thyroid cancer, according to Zwakman and court documents.

Bostrom said in court papers the risk of developing thyroid cancer from radiation is less than 1 percent.

Zwakman said radiation is scheduled for October. He said precautions also will be taken to protect the boy's thyroid.

"This is a mother watching over her child very closely," Zwakman said. "Even though the chemo is over, she is going to keep on with the regimen of keeping up with the nutrition. ... As the doctor-ordered stuff is over, she's going to remain vigilant."

On Friday, Daniel was feeling a little sick after his final chemo treatment.

"He's throwing up and stuff like normal, but we keep him occupied with things outside, and that helps a whole lot," Colleen Hauser said. "That keeps him going, just keeping his mind off of how he's feeling."