My Little Bs Have the Big C

A Breast Cancer Blog For Young Women

Refusing Treatment


I came across an article today on about a 17 year old girl who has been undergoing chemotherapy for Hodgkin’s lymphoma.  After two rounds of chemo, she is refusing to continue treatment and her parents are taking her side.  Child services have gotten involved, removed the girl from her home and forced her to continue treatment.

Should those who have cancer be allowed to refuse treatment?  Should a teen, so close to consenting age have the same right?  What about a child?

Even though I have had recent setbacks and have suffered several side effects due to chemo treatment, I have had it pretty easy.  We can all agree.

We don’t know what this girl’s side effects have been but let’s assume that they are bad enough that she feels that she can’t continue.  Is that reason enough to stop?  To risk dying because that might be better than what she’s suffering (I don’t know what is going through her head, I’m only guessing).

I’m not sure how I feel about this subject.  I do feel that an adult has the right to accept or refuse any treatment.  I have done so, in fact.  With my first round of chemo, they wanted to give me Ativan to keep me calm.  After the first treatment I asked them to stop because it made me very sleepy and loopy.  They would rather have given it to me but, as an adult, I had the right to refuse.  And I did.

But a teen?  I don’t know.  I’m not sure on my position here.  What’s yours?


3 thoughts on “Refusing Treatment

  1. I’m grateful I don’t have to take a position on this. If she were my child I would demand of her that she do what is necessary to live to maturity. I would demand of others they alleviate her suffering as best they can. In my experience, people who have survived terrible ordeals are good at finding ways to be happy.

  2. I am a cancer patient who survived her first diagnosis. My natural instinct is to fight for my life. It becomes very natural for me to want to live. I am familiar with the case you are referring to, in case you didn’t know, here’s the most recent update: I must say, I am very happy she is in remission. The first thought that come to mind is, there are so many terminal cancer patients who wish they were given the same chance this girl had, yet she refused to be treated. I can’t judge her or her family but if the chances of surviving cancer was high, I would have proceeded with treatment. But that’s ME.

    • I hear you. I think it’s tough. I’m definitely with you on the fact that she has a beatable cancer so, why not fight. As a mother, of course, I would do whatever it takes to get my child well. At the same time, I believe we all have a right to choose what is right for our body. I would never refuse treatment but. that’s me. I have a lot to live for.

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