The Connecticut Supreme Court on Thursday upheld a trial court ruling that forced a 17-year-old girl to continue receiving medical treatment she had attempted vehemently to refuse. The ruling also ensures the girl will continue to remain in state custody against her will.
The plaintiff, identified in court documents as “Cassandra C.,” objected so strongly to undergoing chemotherapy for Hodgkin’s lymphoma that she ran away from home last fall after receiving two rounds of treatment, rebuffing doctors who recommended additional chemotherapy.
The Connecticut Department of Children and Families (DCF) gained custody of “Cassandra C.” when she returned home and refused any more treatment. A court ordered the girl and her family to cooperate with the state and to submit to treatment. She appealed to the Supreme Court, but lost that appeal late Thursday.
Still in the custody of the DCF, “Cassandra C.” penned a Thursday opinion column for The Hartford Courant, written from the hospital she’s not allowed to leave. In the piece, she argues she’d rather take her chances with other methods of treatment than submit to the “nightmare” of state-mandated chemotherapy.
Here’s an excerpt:
[In December] I was admitted to the same room I’m in now, with someone sitting by my door 24/7. I could walk down the hallway as long as security was with me, but otherwise I couldn’t leave my room. I felt trapped.
After a week, they decided to force chemotherapy on me. I should have had the right to say no, but I didn’t. I was strapped to a bed by my wrists and ankles and sedated. I woke up in the recovery room with a port surgically placed in my chest. I was outraged and felt completely violated. My phone was taken away, the hospital phone was removed from my room and even the scissors I used for art were taken.
I have been locked in this hospital for a month, missing time from work, not being able to pay my bills. I couldn’t celebrate Christmas and New Year’s with my friends and family. I miss my cat and I miss fresh air. Having visitors is complicated, seeing my mom is limited, and I’ve not been able to see all of the people I’d like to. My friends are a major support; I need them. Finally, I was given an iPad. I can message my friends on Facebook, but it is nowhere near like calling a friend at night when I can’t sleep or hearing someone’s voice to cheer me up.
This experience has been a continuous nightmare. I want the right to make my medical decisions. It’s disgusting that I’m fighting for a right that I and anyone in my situation should already have. This is my life and my body, not DCF’s and not the state’s. I am a human — I should be able to decide if I do or don’t want chemotherapy. Whether I live 17 years or 100 years should not be anyone’s choice but mine.