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A Shaman Divides Pete and Cooper While a Little Girl Fights for Her Life
By Moira McMahon, Researcher
In episode 408, "What Happens Next," Pete and Cooper tend to Elisa Sanchez, a fourteen-year-old girl who has been battling lymphoma. She's already had two rounds of chemotherapy, and though her cancer is potentially curable—for now, it's back. Cooper recommends another round of chemo.
Elisa recently lost her mother to cancer. Elisa's father, Diego, is still heartbroken over losing his wife. He can't bear the thought of putting Elisa through more pain. He doesn't believe in western medicine anymore. He tells Cooper that he's not going to give Elisa more chemo. He's going to take her to a Shaman.
Cooper is livid. This is a curable cancer, but not if she doesn't get chemotherapy. Pete is on the side of Diego. A patient's belief system is a huge part of their ability to heal. If Diego and Elisa believe the Shaman can help them, then maybe she can. Cooper likens the balancing of energy and spirit the Shaman can do as being the same as doing nothing at all. And if they do nothing at all, Elisa will die.
Cooper contacts a judge to rule whether or not Elisa's father has the right to keep her from medical treatment. Elisa tells the judge she doesn't want chemo, but not because she thinks the Shaman can heal her. Elisa wants to stop putting her father through the financial strain of her illness. She wants to die so that she can see her mother in heaven.
The judge decides that Elisa must go through another round of chemo. But Pete knows that ignoring the Sanchez's religious beliefs won't help anyone. Pete arranges to have the Shaman bless the room where Elisa receives her chemo treatment. Elisa will get better, maybe because of the Shaman, maybe because of the chemo.
It may seem that this is a compromise that works for everyone. But Elisa has to go through all the side effects of chemo against her wishes.
Alternative medical practices, like using a Shaman to heal the sick, have been used all over the world for centuries, yet western medicine has little patience for the rituals of ancient medicine. Cooper fought to save his patient, Pete fought to save the spiritual beliefs of an entire family.
Was Cooper right to go to a judge to order chemo?
Was Pete right to stand up for the Sanchez family's beliefs?
What would you do?