17-year-old with cancer
The Connecticut Supreme court ruled on Thursday that a 17-year-old girl can be forced to undergo chemotherapy against her own will. She doesn’t turn 18 until September.
The girl, identified in court documents as Cassandra C. was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in September of 2014, just five months ago. She believes she has the fundamental right to decide what happens to her own body, however, the courts have ruled against Cassandra’s rights, saying as a minor she doesn’t know what’s in her best interest.
Cassandra did not want chemotherapy because she did not want “poison in her body,” her mother, Jackie Fortin, told NBC Connecticut.
The American Cancer Society website lists the side-effects associated after receiving treatment for Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which can include permanent loss of fertility, especially in younger cancer patients like Cassandra. The website also states that “Women who get chest radiation before they are 30 years old have a much higher risk of breast cancer.”
When asked if Cassandra and her mother have been allowed to get a second opinion about her illness her attorney had this to say:
Our position on getting a second opinion has been that she and her mom were not given the time they wanted to explore getting second opinions. The way the department of Child services has handled this case
indicates a fundamental misunderstanding of 17-year-olds. A parent would have to first persuade the child, give her time to come around.
ANM News spoke with Cassandra’s attorney, Josh Michtom today about their next legal strategy:
The case is still an open case in the juvenile court, so we are going to try and get more evidence about her maturity to submit.
Attorney Josh Michtom believes that the evidence they have presented so far wasn’t “bad” however, there wasn’t very much evidence submitted thus far to support her maturity, something they intend to fix next time they go to court. Michtom said they plan to have her talk to a psychologist, to get a fuller picture of who she is before the court.
So, what does Cassandra’s life look like now that she and her mother are not in control of what happens to her?
In the meantime the condition is not very good. She’s stuck in the hospital, all the time, with no phone and only allowed supervised visits. There’s a way to keep getting treatment without her being essentially in prison. We may try to pursue the courts for a less restrictive way for her to get the treatments. – Attorney Josh Michtom
Cassandra is still at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center in Hartford and a guard is stationed at her door to prevent her from leaving.
Stay with ANM News on this developing story as we will continue to follow Cassandra’s situation very closely.