Josia's parents would have paid any price to save him.

A Texas doctor, two months, earlier, had given them one: $25,000 upfront, by cash or check.

Clinging to hope, the Linden, N.J., couple took Josia to see Stanislaw Burzynski, a Houston doctor claiming to be able to do what no one else can: cure inoperable pediatric brainstem tumors.

Virtually any other doctor might have recited the same sad statistics: Although doctors can now cure 83% of pediatric cancers in the U.S., there is usually no hope for kids with Josia's tumor. Perhaps 5% survive five years.

Burzynski — an internist with no board certification or formal training in oncology — has said publicly that he can cure half of the estimated 200 children a year diagnosed with brainstem tumors. The Cottos were told that treatment could cost over $100,000, mostly out of pocket, because insurance plans often refuse to cover Burzynski Clinic treatments.