Connecticut Teenager Explains Why She Doesn't Want Chemotherapy Treatment

Court says it will continue to force teen to undergo treatment.

ByABC News
January 11, 2015, 1:42 PM

— -- A Connecticut teenager fighting cancer said she wants to refuse chemotherapy because she is interested in the quality of what life she has left, "not the quantity."

The girl, identified only as Cassandra, has Hodgkin's lymphoma, and while she is currently forced to treat it with chemotherapy, the 17-year-old says she is worried about what she considers risks, including heart defects, organ damage, and digestive problems.

"I entirely understand that death will be the outcome without the chemo," Cassandra wrote to ABC News affiliate WTNH-TV from Connecticut Children's Medical Center, where she has been living and getting treatment. "The doctors have made that clear. But they can't necessarily give me a 'death date,' so as I've said before, I believe in the quality of my life, not the quantity."

The Connecticut Supreme Court said Thursday it will continue to force Cassandra to undergo chemotherapy.

The court summary said Cassandra underwent chemotherapy twice in November and then ran away from home, refusing to continue the treatment. Cassandra's mother supported her decision, but the teen was forced to go to court after the Department of Children and Families ordered her to comply with the doctor's recommendation.

The state Department of Children and Families said in a statement: "When experts -- such as the several physicians involved in this case -- tell us with certainty that a child will die as a result of leaving a decision up to a parent, then the Department has a responsibility to take action. Even if the decision might result in criticism, we have an obligation to protect the life of the child when there is consensus among the medical experts that action is required. Much of the improvements in Connecticut's child welfare system have come from working with families voluntarily to realize solutions to family challenges."

Assistant Attorney General John Tucker said Cassandra is "irrationally refusing treatment that is lifesaving," WTNH-TV reported.

Cassandra said her chemotherapy side effects are "mild to none so far."

"My oncologist believes I am responding well," she wrote. "That doesn't mean as the chemo continues things won't get worse, but I'm more concerned about the long-term side effects, and also the fact that I don't want these drugs in my body, but they are and it disgusts me.

"Everyone including myself should have the given right to say what you do or don't want to be done to their body," Cassandra wrote.

She plans to move out of the hospital when she turns 18, she wrote.

"I hope that one day if a minor is put in my position, they will not have to go through what I'm going through," she wrote.