Connecticut teen to go home after forced chemo treatment

MILFORD, Connecticut - A Connecticut teenager who was forced by the state Supreme Court to undergo chemotherapy for her cancer will be released on Monday after finishing treatment in good health, her lawyer said.

Cassandra C, as the 17-year-old has been identified in court papers, has been in state custody since last fall after attempting to avoid the treatment, which authorities said would save her but that she and her mother said would "poison her body."

"She's very excited to finally be going home," said attorney Joshua Michtom. "That's what she's wanted from the beginning, and I'm happy this day has arrived and that she's cancer-free."

Michtom said "we still believe she had the right to make her own decision under the Mature Minor Doctrine, which is now left legally unresolved in the state of Connecticut."

Cassandra was diagnosed in September with Hodgkin's lymphoma, a type of blood cancer. She rejected chemotherapy treatment with the support of her mother, Jackie Fortin, who maintained she had the right to explore alternatives.

The state took custody and imposed treatment after she attempted to run away. In early January, the state's Supreme Court upheld the custody decision after hearing testimony the teen had an 85 per cent chance of survival with chemotherapy but would likely die without it.

Her cancer went into remission last month at Connecticut Children's Medical Center in Hartford.

Her mother, who has been barred from seeing her during her treatment, is "ecstatic" to see Cassandra, said Fortin's attorney, James Sexton.

"They really need time to be together and decompress after being separated for months," Fortin said.

Cassandra will turn 18 in September, when she will be allowed to make medical decisions as an adult.

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