Teen forced to undergo chemotherapy

Teen forced to undergo chemotherapy

By Sophia McMorrow

On Jan. 8, the Supreme Court ruled that the state of Connecticut can continue to require a teen to receive chemotherapy.

“She knows I love her and I am going to keep fighting for her because this is her decision,” the teen’s mother, Jackie Fortin, said in an interview with The New York Times.

The teen, identified in court papers as Cassandra C, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in September of 2014. The Department of Children and Families took Cassandra under temporary custody after being absent for some medical appointments. She and her mother are fighting against the state of Connecticut to allow Cassandra to stop chemotherapy.

I care about the quality of my life, not just the quantity.”

— Cassandra C.

According to her doctors, Cassandra has at least an 80 percent chance of survival by continuing her medical sessions. Without the chemo? Doctors predict stopping the treatment will end her life.

“It’s her body, and she should not be forced to do anything with her body,” Fortin said in the interview.

It was difficult for Cassandra, physically and emotionally, to continue chemotherapy. She wants control of her body and the ability to make her own medical decisions.

“I care about the quality of my life, not just the quantity,” Cassandra wrote in an essay about her cancer experience.

When the case was taken to court, Cassandra’s lawyer argued that she is mature enough to make her own decisions regarding her body. The court ruled that she had the chance at trial to show her maturity and her ability to make her own medical decisions, but was unsuccessful in doing so.

I’m not sure that we can leave such a dramatic decision up to anyone younger than the age of 18.”

— School counselor Jennifer Wibbenmeyer

School counselor Jennifer Wibbenmeyer agrees that it is difficult to decide important decisions like this based on maturity.

“I don’t know how you can really gauge maturity. It’s a proven fact that the brain and thought processes are not fully developed until the mid 20’s, so I’m not sure that we can leave such a dramatic decision up to anyone younger than the age of 18,” Wibbenmeyer said.

But Cassandra is not the only one who thinks she should have control of her medical decisions.

“It’s her choice whether or not she wants to do it. I think she should have some say in this situation,” freshman Andrew Yazdi said. “It is not fair for the state or government to decide what is right for teens’ bodies without their consent.”

But there are also people who think Cassandra should continue chemo so that she will have the chance continue her life.

“You only have one life. Even when it seems like there isn’t any hope left to live for, by giving up and giving into death Cassandra could be missing out on joyful, wonderful experiences in life that her high survival rate, by undergoing chemotherapy, could bring,” freshman Betsy Wait said.

Cassandra asked an important question in her essay: “How long is a person actually supposed to live, and why?”