Connecticut teen forced to undergo chemo treatments

Teen With Cancer Fights State Over Chemotherapy Treatment
Teen With Cancer Fights State Over Chemotherapy Treatment

A teenage cancer patient in Connecticut who refused chemotherapy treatment is battling more than just a disease.

Court documents identify the 17-year-old only as "Cassandra C." She was diagnosed with cancer last year and doctors recommended she receive chemotherapy - but Cassandra refused. Connecticut's Department of Children and Families stepped in and the teen was forced to receive treatment.

Now she and her mother Jackie are in a legal battle with the state. They claim the forced treatment violates her constitutional rights.

"It's a question of fundamental constitutional rights–the right to have a say over what happens to your body–and the right to say to the government 'you can't control what happens to my body.'"

Her mother explained to the Hartford Courant that "She knows the long-term effects of having chemo, what it does to your organs, what it does to your body. She may not be able to have children after this because it affects everything in your body. It not only kills cancer, it kills everything in your body."

A Hartford attorney told WVIT she faces an uphill battle but she has a chance, "She wants to refuse what everybody agrees, including her attorneys is life-saving medical treatment...I think the most compelling argument in her favor is that there is no perfectly bright line that distinguishes when you're an adult and deemed competent by the law."

Her mother also wants the state to recognize what's called the "mature minor doctrine" that finds certain minors capable enough to make major decisions.

Currently the DCF has the authorization to make medical decisions on Cassandra's behalf. The teen and her mother will make their case in court on Thursday.

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