Connecticut girl who appealed to stop chemotherapy in remission

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 09, 2015 12:29 AM

By Richard Weizel

MILFORD, Ct (Reuters) - A Connecticut teenager who was ordered by a state court to undergo chemotherapy against her wishes is in remission after several months of treatment, the state's Department of Children and Families said on Sunday.

The department gained temporary custody of the 17-year-old, identified as “Cassandra C” in court documents, after she and her mother, Jackie Fortin, fought for her right to discontinue treatment despite her risk of dying.

The state department indicated in a statement on Sunday that the treatment has worked even faster than anticipated.

"We are very pleased with Cassandra's progress toward a complete recovery," said Joette Katz, Commissioner of the state's Department of Children and Families (DCF).

"We have had full confidence throughout that the medical professionals involved in her treatment would be successful in saving her life."

The girl was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma in September. After surgery failed to rid her of the cancer, she underwent two rounds of chemotherapy before asking that treatments be stopped, then ran away from home to avoid further treatment.

DCF took custody of the case and continued treatments which doctors said were essential for her survival. Treatments were ordered for at least six months, which doctors said gave her an 85 percent chance of survival, versus a "near certainty of death within two years" without chemotherapy.

Attorneys for the girl and her mother said she should be treated as a "mature minor," with the legal right to reject medical care she did not want, an approach recognized in some states but not in Connecticut.

The state's top court rejected her bid, with state Assistant Attorney General John Tucker saying that halting treatment "would almost certainly result in her death."

Neither Fortin's attorney Michael Taylor nor Cassandra's court-appointed public defender Joshua Michtom could be reached for comment on Sunday.

(Editing by Chris Michaud)