Forced Chemotherapy?

“You have cancer.”

That is a sentence no one wants to hear, and yet 1.6 million are expected to get cancer by this year. Fortunately, this malady can be treated. Thousands of people are able to live normal lives after treatment. However, some refused to be treated with certain methods. Why refuse when you can choose not to be sick? Seventeen-year-old “Cassandra C.” from Connecticut refuses to take chemotherapy because of its harmful effects to the body.

Cassandra currently suffers from Hodgkin lymphoma. Thankfully, she has an 80% chance of surviving, with the help of chemotherapy. However, she has chosen not to, because she views the treatment as “poison” (1). She took two chemo treatments and then ran away from home, refusing to take more. Her mother supports her decision because she believes that her daughter has every “right as a human being” to make her own choices (1). Unfortunately, her mother is not able to make the decisions anymore.

For the past four months, Cassandra’s mother did not take her daughter to the appointments they had scheduled for her sickness, for whatever reason. Doctors knew that if this type of lymphoma was untreated, it could be lethal. To protect Cassandra, they called in child-welfare agents to investigate the mother and daughter. Whether it be because she had forgotten, refused, or neglected the appointments, the agents have taken temporary custody of Cassandra. At the moment, she is being closely monitored in Connecticut Children’s Medical Center in Hartford, Connecticut.

Is that allowed? According to Cassandra’s mother, it should not be. There will be a court case soon that will debate for and against Cassandra’s right to not get chemotherapy. Joshua Michtom, a public defender in Hartford representing Cassandra, states that there are laws that state rights for those under the age of eighteen. Also, it is known that “maturity doesn’t happen overnight” (2). It takes time for someone to be mature enough to make their own decisions.

You may be wondering: is it fair for the court to make decisions when it comes to an individual’s choice of treatment? Some say no, as it is the individual’s choice to cure themselves of their sickness. Other may say yes, since the court is acting to protect that individual. Considering the fact that this case is related to the second-leading cause to death, it is of utmost importance to reach a conclusion to this matter. Soon, the court will conclude the case and Cassandra may either be forced for more chemotherapy or given the choice to avoid it.


Lupkin, Sydney. “Legal Battle Rages Over Whether to Force 17-Year-Old Cancer Patient to Have Chemo.” ABC News. ABC News Network, 5 Jan. 2015. Web. 06 Jan. 2015.

Briggs, Bill. “Connecticut Teen With Curable Cancer Fights to Stop Chemo.” NBC News. NBC News, 7 Jan. 2015. Web. 07 Jan. 2015.


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