MINNEAPOLIS — The family of a 13-year-old cancer patient who fled Minnesota with his mother because they objected to chemotherapy are using the Web to raise money for expenses that could mount as he restarts the therapy Thursday.
Attorney Calvin Johnson said Wednesday he understands the Hauser family has health insurance, but he set up a Web site because insurance would not cover legal bills and alternative medicines for Daniel Hauser’s illness.
Daniel is one of eight children, and the family is feeling financial and emotional pressure, the attorney said. The Hausers have a family farm near Sleepy Eye in southern Minnesota.
“Things are really, really tight for this family,” Johnson said. He said he had no estimate of the family’s legal or medical bills. Money raised by the Web site will go to the family and will not be tax-deductible.
Family friend Daniel Zwakman said that in addition to running the farm, Anthony Hauser works a full-time job at an area printing company, which provides the family’s health insurance.
“I can’t imagine the stress of working that many hours outside the farm,” he said. “He really didn’t need this.”
Zwakman said sometimes Anthony works days, and sometimes nights, and both parents have been exhausted with their family life and recently, court dates.
“Tony and Colleen would sleep on the kitchen floor because they wanted to make sure they got up in time to make their court appearances,” he said. “They were afraid of getting too comfortable, and going into a deep sleep.”
After Daniel and his mother returned to Minnesota this week, both his parents told a judge they will let Daniel undergo chemotherapy because they now understand it is necessary to save his life. They said they were setting aside their religious objection to it, and the judge allowed them to keep custody of Daniel.
Daniel has Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He received a single treatment of chemotherapy in February, but stopped after enduring the harsh side effects.
Before it restarts, Daniel was to be examined Wednesday by a pediatric oncologist at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota.
A doctor’s report released in court says the hospital’s goal “will be to include alternative therapies in which the family is interested, as long as there is not data to suggest that a particular danger exists with any alternative medicine.”
In children, Hodgkin’s has a 90 percent chance of being cured with chemotherapy and radiation, doctors say. There’s a 5 percent chance of survival without those treatments.
The family prefers natural healing practices suggested by a religious group called the Nemenhah Band, which says it follows American Indian beliefs.
Authorities say Daniel and his mother traveled to California last week and may have been heading to Mexico. A number of alternative medicine clinics are near the U.S. border. The Hausers instead returned home on a charter flight arranged by Asgaard Media, a film and TV production company based in Corona, Calif.
The Web could be fertile ground for the Hausers’ fundraising. On the social networking site Facebook alone there are at least seven pages with more than 1,000 members dedicated to Daniel’s time as a fugitive, his preference for alternative medicine and other issues.
Todd Thielen, 22, of Paynesville, said he created the “Pray for Danny Hauser” Facebook page to get people to pray for the boy and not to debate the issues of alternative medicine and whether he should be ordered to undergo chemotherapy.
“It’s got to be tough for him,” said Thielen, who said his younger sister received chemotherapy for leukemia that is now in remission.