A mum planning to take her son for cancer treatment in America has responded to public concerns that a controversial clinic in Texas is offering false hope.
Ewa Sitkowska, whose nine-year-old son Cristiano is suffering from a rare aggressive cancer, has been overwhelmed by a campaign to raise money to send him to the Burzynski Clinic in Houston.
After the story appeared in the Examiner, several people got in touch to say the clinic’s experimental ‘antineoplaston therapy’ cancer treatment was unproven and gave false hope to vulnerable people.
Ewa, 43, from Marsh, is aware of the concerns but said Cristiano had no other options after all other treatments had failed.
After carrying out research and listening to stories of people who have used the clinic, Ewa and partner Orlando decided it was worth a try.
Their Go Fund Me appeal has raised £27,000, with Examiner readers among the donors.
Ewa said: “Every parent, if they see a small light they will go towards it.
“When I see so many people wanting to help us, it makes me feel we are doing the right thing. If people were in the same situation as us, they would do the same. I wish we had more options, but we don’t. I believe I am doing the right thing for my son.”
The couple have been touched by people’s generosity.
However, a handful of online donors questioned the clinic’s claims. Each critic has had a personal reply from the Ewa and Orlando, with help from Orlando’s nephew Carlos Ferreira, who speaks better English.
Carlos, speaking on behalf of the couple, said: “It is this (the Burzynski clinic) or nothing. Would anyone else sit at home and watch their child perish and do nothing about it?
“The NHS has been amazing; they have done everything they possibly can but have run out of options. Ewa and Orlando are not going to give up on their child.”
After the family sent Cristiano’s medical records to the Houston clinic they were told the boy could be suitable for treatment, which involves the use of substances found in blood and urine.
Carlos said the Houston clinic was offering a “trial of a different kind”. The initial consultation is around 1,250 dollars and there are further payments if treatment goes ahead. The total cost of treatment, plus expenses, could be £200,000.
“Ewa has seen enough information about the clinic to verify the opinion that it’s worth trying the treatment,” said Carlos.
The clinic has been at the centre of controversy for many years and was the subject of a BBC Panorama investigation which cast doubt on the clinic’s claims.
The Burzynski Clinic could not be contacted for comment.