Thursday, December 31, 2009
Musicians rally for cancer victim
Several Floyd acts will perform Saturday to benefit a 19-year-old.
| Amy Matzke-Fawcett
FLOYD -- A concert Saturday will benefit a 19-year-old Floyd resident who is battling cancer for the fifth time.
Starchild Abraham Cherrix, known to most as "Wolf," was first diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system, in 2005 when he was 15.
The cancer has come and gone in his lymph nodes, armpits, collarbone and lungs -- he was once in remission for a year and a half -- and returned most recently in March.
The Cherrix family made headlines in February 2006, when Wolf Cherrix, then 16, refused to undergo a second round of chemotherapy after the first failed.
"I felt really bad the whole time" in chemotherapy, Cherrix said. "I wanted to die."
So he and his father, Jay Cherrix, traveled to Mexico to try an alternative called the Hoxsey treatment, which is banned in the United States.
That led the Accomack County Department of Social Services to take his parents, Jay and Rose Cherrix, to court for medical neglect. At the time, the family lived on Virginia's Eastern Shore. They moved to Floyd in 2007.
The parents spent two months in court, nearly losing custody of their son before a compromise was reached. Wolf Cherrix could seek alternative treatments from Dr. Arnold Smith in Mississippi, with concentrated doses of radiation, plus immunotherapy -- medicines and supplements, including a form of vitamin C, that Smith says bolster the immune system.
In the meantime, the family lost its kayaking business and home in Chincoteague, and Rose and Jay Cherrix separated.
"Maybe the cancer has come back five times, but I'm not in a hospital bed feeling sick," Wolf Cherrix said. "I have a life."
The family's struggles inspired the Floyd community to become involved, said Pat Woodruff, one of the concert's organizers. Woodruff's children, Cameron and Coriander, befriended Cherrix through the Floyd Young Actor's Guild and Spoken Word, a writing group.
"We were talking about things to do, and it came up that Wolf needed an infrared sauna," Pat Woodruff said. "We thought people might be willing to help."
Her partner, Nico Woodruff, is a performer in Saturday's benefit.
Infrared saunas are thought to remove toxins from the body using heat. A portable sauna, like the one Wolf Cherrix received earlier in the year, costs about $800, partially paid for by community donations.
Money from Saturday's concert will help pay for the sauna and other medical expenses not covered by insurance, including herbs and supplements.
"I think kids here are unique," Rose Cherrix said. "Of course, they're still kids, but they have a special bond, and the families end up getting close."
Wolf Cherrix's struggles led to a 2007 state law, dubbed "Abraham's law," stating that, at age 14, children can have a say in their medical treatment.
It also states that in some cases, parents cannot be charged with medical neglect as Abraham Cherrix's parents were.