Toronto Star

July 4, 1999

Cancer teen remembered for the joy he brought others

`Not one for complaining' about his struggle

By Julian Branch
Canadian Press

GRUENTHAL, Sask. - A light drizzle fell yesterday as 250 people packed a church in this tiny community to say goodbye to a boy who shunned conventional cancer treatment in favour of prayers and herbal remedies.

Tyrell Dueck, who died Wednesday night in a Saskatoon hospital, was remembered for the joy he brought to his friends and family.

Tears streamed down Tim Dueck's face as he recalled how his son dealt with the cancer that started in his knee and spread to his lungs.

``When we got together many months ago, I said whatever you decide I'll be there,'' Dueck told mourners at the Gruenthal church, referring to when his son was first told he had cancer.

``I'll stand with you but you've got to decide'' about what treatment you choose.

People across Canada followed the case of the 13-year-old after Saskatchewan's Social Services Department went to court to take charge of his medical care.

When told he needed chemotherapy and could lose his right leg to bone cancer, the reserved teen from Martensville, Sask., refused the treatment.

His decision ignited a debate over who should decide what's best for a child - the patient and their family or the state.

Tyrell's family, who are fundamentalist Christians, believed prayer along with herbal and alternative remedies would cure him and kill the tumour in his leg.

During the funeral, Pastor Earl Gregory described how moved he was by Tyrell's faith in the face of death.

The pastor of the Gruenthal church said Tyrell was ``not one for complaining'' about his struggle and the controversy it generated.

He took to task those who opposed the family's wishes but said the Duecks were sustained by their faith.

``Medicine will end with death. The legal system stops with death. The news stories stop with death.

``But a family's love and a faith in a God that is impossible to lie to does not end with death,'' Gregory said.

Church-goers were moved by Gregory's words and often interjected with shouts of ``Amen'' and ``Hallelujah.''

Inside the church, a board was adorned with a jersey from the NHL's Detroit Red Wings and a hunting outfit - two of the teen's most treasured mementoes.

The board was covered with dozens of pictures of Tyrell, his parents and two sisters.

His family also inscribed it with his nickname and the words: ``In loving memory of Relly.''

Tim Dueck recalled how much his son loved to hunt.

``I lost my hunting buddy . . . no matter where I look you'll be there,'' he said, as he broke down.

``I don't weep for him but for myself, for he is where I want to be,'' he added.

The Duecks said earlier last week they were at peace with their decision to pursue alternative treatment for Tyrell.

The courts intervened in Tyrell's treatment twice over the last seven months.

Both times judges decided to give the Social Services Department the authority to determine his medical care but Tyrell balked.

The department gave up its fight in late March when doctors found the cancer had spread.

Within days, Tyrell was admitted to a alternative treatment clinic in Mexico.

 • BEYOND 2000


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