Five-year-old Ashley Allen, who has undergone more than half a dozen surgeries and procedures to treat brain cancer, will undergo one more.
Without the treatment, the Payson kindergartner is expected to live one more month, at best. But even with the $20,000 treatment, there is little medical evidence to prove that it will extend her life.
Her parents, Frank and Tracy, said, however, that they refuse to give up on their little girl.
They took Ashley to Houston, Texas Thursday to meet with a self-styled cancer researcher who has thumbed his nose at the FDA, been convicted of false advertising and been harshly criticized by medical professionals around the country.
Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski plans to use a "non-toxic" treatment to try to eliminate the newest malignant tumors that have been found in Ashley's brain. His method involves the intravenous use of "anineoplastins," small proteins and amino acid derivatives found naturally in human blood. Burzynski has refused to submit the procedure to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for testing or approval.
Some of Burzynski's patients say the experimental treatment saved their lives. But it has been highly criticized by scientists and medical professionals including Dr. Howard Ozer, director of the Allegheny Cancer Center in Philadelphia, who has said the treatment is based on "scientific nonsense."
In 1995, Burzynski was indicted on 75 counts of mail fraud and violation of medical regulations for practicing outside of Texas. Although most of the charges were dropped, Burzynski has three years left to serve on a 10-year probation sentence.
According to Jill Wiggins, public information manager for the Texas State Board of Medical Examiners, Burzynski's license to practice medicine in Texas is subject to restriction because he has "not complied with the laws and regulations of the State of Texas regarding the use of investigative new drugs on patients and that he had violated certain restrictions regarding false advertising."
Tracy Allen knows all of this.
"What do we have to lose?" she said Thursday before leaving for Houston. "Our daughter is dying. Maybe this will keep that from happening, and maybe it won't. But it has worked for others, and all we can do is hope that it will work for her.
"When it is your child, you don't give up," Allen said. "You simply don't give up.
"We are not giving up."