Skip to comments.Texas Officials, Parents Spar Over Girl's Cancer Treatment
Posted on 06/09/2005 10:19:16 AM PDT by iwannaknow07
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas -- A judge has postponed until Friday a ruling that could prevent doctors from treating a 12-year-old girl who was taken from her parents after Texas officials accused them of not doing enough to treat her cancer.
It's the latest maneuver in a dispute over the medical care of Katie Wernecke, reported KPRC-TV in Houston.
Her parents, Michele and Edward Wernecke, said their daughter's Hodgkin's disease is in remission and she doesn't need radiation treatment after undergoing a round of chemotherapy.
Texas Child Protective Services said her life could be in jeopardy if chemotherapy and radiation treatments don't resume.
Speaking Thursday on NBC's "Today" show, Michele Wernecke said her daughter's illness is unique and should be treated as such.
"I think they should treat her for what her body calls for and not standard protocol. Nobody will look at that," she said. "Not every cancer is the same. Nobody understands that. Her body is not standard, and her cancer is not standard."
The couple, members of the Church of God, have said they oppose blood transfusions unless they were from Katie's mother. Doctors have said the two aren't a match.
The couple's attorney, Daniel Horne, said religion wasn't at issue. Rather, they believe doctors haven't been upfront about Katie's care and have not answered all their questions about the side effects of the radiation treatment.
"This issue is about parental rights, not about religious rights," Horne said. "They just want to be informed of her treatment. They want to be involved in this."
Last week, authorities issued an Amber Alert to gain custody of Katie after receiving an anonymous tip about possible neglect.
She was found with her mother at a family ranch, about 80 miles west of Corpus Christi near Freer, on Saturday.
She remains at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston to undergo tests, officials said. The Werneckes' three sons were placed in a foster home.
Michele Wernecke was arrested on charges of interfering with child custody and was released Monday after posting $50,000 bond.
During a court hearing Wednesday, the couple asked juvenile court Judge Carl Lewis to bar doctors from providing radiation therapy until a custody hearing Wednesday.
The judge said he would make a decision Friday, the day before Katie's 13th birthday, because doctors in Houston will have more information then.
Katie was diagnosed with cancer in January. In a videotaped statement recorded by her parents, Katie said she's feeling better.
"I don't need radiation treatment. And nobody asked me what I wanted. It's my body," she said.
CPS also took custody of Katie's three siblings because their mother refused to cooperate with their investigation into the issue. A court hearing to determine who will be given custody of the children was set for June 15.
Katie's family has maintained a blog on the situation at prayforkatie.blogspot.com. The online journal offers updates on Katie's progress and allows supporters to leave messages for her.
A lady I know online is debating whether or not to go with the radiation treatments. Her physician says it's up to her, and doesn't have a solid opinion. "That's how they always do it," he told her. Another woman told her that when she had radiation it made things worse.
Here's an article you might find interesting. The child's been made a ward of the court because the parents want to deny certain aspects of the child's treatment due to religious beliefs.
Liberal chickens coming home to roost.
My husband has Hodgkins lymphoma currently. He'd gotten rid of it completely in 2001, but it can recur - that's often the nature of it. He didn't have radiation therapy following his first bout, when he went through chemotherapy and didn't suggest it, either. This time around he's going through chemotherapy and they've said that radiation wasn't necessary either. I would question what the doctors are saying and get a second opinion or third if necessary. Amazing how the gov't is all over this, but cases over on the East coast where people are purposely killing their children and the state never steps in...I'll never understand the system. Ever.
I knew a girl that had Hodgkin's. She went through 3 years of trying to beat it into remission. After they finally got down, they sent her home and she developed pnuemonia due to her low white blood cells from treatment. Died a week later.
This is unbelievable. Who is in charge of a family's health care, the parents and their child, or the STATE! They took the other kids to foster care?! This is why the populace needs to stay armed. To drive off the criminal government agents.
"It's my body," she said.
Wow, isn't that a statement. If she said this in desire to kill her baby it would be full steam ahead. What do you want to bet that this girl will have no say whatsoever in this issue. What do you want to be that the judge will demand that she has this treatment, in spite of what she or her parents want?????? Of course the "it's my body" argument only is relevant when someone wants to murder the young.
She will get no further with this argument than does the cancer patient with pot smoking.
So, when determining the best course of treatment, the parents know more than the docs?
Considering she's 13, her argument deserves to go nowhere.
And her mother - well, anyone who can say with a straight face, "Her body is not standard, and her cancer is not standard," - words fail me.
So, when determining the best course of treatment, the parents know more than the docs?
Probably not. Well, possibly not. But that's not the point. The question is whether or not Liberty and Freedom exit in Texas. Docs aren't always right and people should be able to accept or not accept a docs advice. Docs are not Gods and neither is the state.
A family should be able to make a choice regarding medical care and then THEY live with their decision. The idea that the state should have the power to forcibly medicate and treat and do whatever else with the population is revolting.
But if she were pregnant and her mother wanted her to have the baby over the child's desire to have an abortion - the government would be saying it is her body.
I'm no lawyer, and I could be wrong, but isn't there a duty for the state to protect children from harm?
Docs are not Gods and neither is the state.
Correct. However, there has been tons of research with cancer treatment (as well as trial and error).While not an exact science, there are treatment protocols that the docs follow that are designed to provide for the best known treatment possible. All it takes is for a single cancer cell to survive, and then replicate, and then the cancer returns. And while additional radiation might be viewed as "overkill", it's probably the best way to go medically. You're looking at this from a rights viewpoint; I'm looking at it from a survival viewpoint. It should also be noted that the treatments used to treat cancer i.e. chemo and radiation, are also known carcinogens, and some patients will develop cancer from the prior treatments.
In the liberal world, children are state property and parents are the enemy.
The day of the murder began with the mandatory meeting in the home of the Mother-Facilitator Tia Rogers. Once all the parents were seated in their folding chairs, Mother Tia eased onto a couch, and retrieved a file marked 'Village Education Briefs'. "We have had some troubling reports this week from school authorities", Tia began.
"Troubling" was a code word for punishment. Mother Tia used the word deliberately to create fear among the parents. She enjoyed the power she held - even in a single word. Words, documents, even the title "Mother-Facilitator" were all symbols of her power - and Village power.
The parents shifted in their folding chairs uncomfortably. It humored Mother Tia to see thin, younger women squirming on hard folding chairs. She herself was forced to take the couch because of her large size. Power over young mothers was a form of cosmic justice.
"First item. The Bellamys. According to school reports, your daughter, Jennifer, made disturbing comments questioning the validity of Village history lessons. How do you explains this? Don? Janna?"
Don looked at his wife and shrugged a slightly. "We hadn't heard this, Mother Tia. What is she accused of saying?"
"Accused? Village Teacher reports are not accusations, but statements of fact. The Teacher STATES that your daughter questioned the need for VillageTherapy Camps. Specifically, she questioned the necessity of Village Re-education for certain religious practices."
The girl's mother, Janna, spoke this time, sounding slightly alarmed. "Mother Tia, we have always taught our children the folly of religion, and the need to retrain those who become entangled in religion. However, Jennifer is the oldest, and has fond memories of her grandmother, who was quite religious. She .... vanished during the Great Purge."
"I see." Mother Tia glanced through the rest of the file on this particular girl. Decent grades. Well-behaved. "I will inform the Village Teacher of this misguided fondness for her grandmother. You will remove all pictures or other momentos of this grandmother from your home, and not mention her again to your daughter."
"Yes, Mother Tia." The Bellamys slumped in relief.
Mother Tia offered no sympathy, other than to glare at the Bellamys for a moment. All in all, they were two of her best parents - pliant, and without an original thought of their own. Especially the father - a complete wimp. The Bellamys were model Village citizens.
The weekly meetings were mandatory by law, and quite stressful for the parents. But Mother Tia knew of no other effective way enforce parenting laws. Fear and repetition were the building blocks of Village control, and the meetings were a perfect example.
"Item two. The Hoods."
Wesley and Denise - sitting directly across from Mother Tia - had always been trouble. Especially Denise, whom Mother Tia hated for her good looks and her self-confidence. Tonight they would pay the price for their little rebellions.
"On Thursday, the Village School noticed an unacceptable level of activity on the part of your son, Lance. A blood test showed an inadequate quantity of Ritalin in his bloodstream. Explanations?"
Denise spoke first. "Mother Tia, our son had an important soccer game that evening. As we have discussed before, the Ritalin makes him so lethargic that he can barely get out of bed. We thought it would be O.K. to skip it for one day. We just thought ..."
"Obviously, it is your "thinking" that causes trouble for all of us. As we have also discussed before, a Village Psychologist has recommened Ritalin for your son - on a DAILY basis. Is this not correct?"
"Yes, but ..."
"I haven't finished!" Mother Tia stood, as she always did when a lecture was beginning. "Answer yes or no. In addition, a Village Pediatrician examined your son and prescribed Ritalin. Did he not?"
"Yes!" Denise answered, somewhat defiantly.
Mother Tia noted the defiant tone. "In a addition, I myself, a Village trained and certified Facilitator, have recommended DAILY Ritalin for your son. Do you deny this?"
"Your failure to submit to Village policy makes your son a disruption to the Village school, and an affront to the Village itself. I therefore have no choice but to order child removal until such time as the both of you can be re-certified for a parenting license."
The Hoods look stunned. The husband opened his mouth, but could think of nothing to say.
Naturally, it was Denise who continued to speak, nearly sobbing. "What ... You can't ... When!?"
Mother Tia smiled. "It is already done. The police were set to enter your home as soon as you left for this meeting. You son is already in a secret location and being settled into a foster home."
Denise put her face in her hands, and began moaning and sobbing. Finally the father spoke. "But you can't do this. Please, Lance is all we have! It's just a pill! Please, can't we talk ...."
"There has been enough talk already!" Mother Tia slapped her folder onto the couch. "You had your chance, but you continued to deny my authority and the authority of the Village. Yes, it is just a pill. But your failure to conform to Village policy proves that you are unfit parents!"
"No!" Denise said, then stood up. Mother Tia hoped she was leaving. Instead, Denise reached into her purse and pulled out a gun.
"A gun!?" Mother Tia was more surprised than afraid, and curious. "Where did you get that? Those are very illegal. Give it to me."
Denise cocked the trigger. "If you must know, it was my Uncle's. I hid it during the Purge." Denise had stopped crying. She looked calm, now, almost peaceful.
Mother Tia chuckled a bit. "You can't threaten me with that. Nothing you do will get your son back. Even I can't retrieve your son without a Village edict."
The husband chimed in, weakly, "Denise. No"
Denise smirked. "I know that, you fat cow. I am not going to threaten you. I'm going to kill you."
Mother Tia felt the blood flow our of her face. Was this a dream? She didn't know whether to respond to the threat or the insult. It had been years since anyone had dared to insult her. And now, Denise Hood of all women. A thin, good-looking, snob. Probably had more boyfriends than she could handle in high school.
Mother Tia forced herself to smile. "You are both going to prison for a long time."
Mother Tia felt, rather than heard, the gun go off. She saw everything like a slow-motion movie. The husband lunged for the for the gun, but it was too late. What a loser.
Suddenly, Mother Tia was looking up at faces. The parents - how did they get up up there? Wait, I get it. I am lying on the floor. Mouths moving but still no sound. What is going on?
I'm dying. I can't believe it. That skinny broad Denise! But Denise wasn't there.
The remaining parents hovered over her in a circle. Mother Tia saw them - despised them. Their ridiculous marriages and ridiculous families. They would get to keep their children, and Mother Tia would never have any. Especially now. It was all so unfair. Someone must punish them.
Someone would take her place! It was a comforting thought.
The Village would never end!
That statement stuck out for me, also. Were they refusing blood because of religious convictions? fear of communicable disease from unknown sources? It's inevitable that anyone receiving chemo will eventually need blood transfusions, so this is an important point.
You're looking at this from a rights viewpoint; I'm looking at it from a survival viewpoint.
The same logic is used in gun control, socialized medicine, socialized education, drug laws etc... If it is the case that these parents are killing their child by not giving her the proper medical care (which we don't know to be the case, but just for teh sake of argument let's assume so), then they should be FREE to do so. A crime is committed when parents actively damage a child - via child abuse, but this is much different than deciding over medical treatments.
If you attempt to save this one child by forcible intervention, you are opening the doors to a government power grab, which, in the long run, will result in many, many more dead. IMO
Rights are more important than survival and much more difficult to defend.
Censorship is telling a man he cant have a steak because a baby cant chew it.
Can the state force them to pay the bill for the radiation treatment that they refuse to allow? If the treatment kills the child, can the parents sue the state for murder? The point is that radiation treatment is one OPTION for treating cancer, but it is not a cure.
Have not had time to really check on this other than the information on the blog below. Might read the comments, it provides a little more insight into the thinking of the parents.
I hope that the tests at M.D. Anderson Hospital will be the determining factor rather than her current doctors because they are the highly respected treatment center for cancer and attract desperate people from all over.
To me, it looks like they feel she needs the chemotherapy AND radiation because it appears the cancer is in more than one location - lungs and kidneys. It looks a lot more serious to me than what the mother is claiming.
If it was my child, that child would be hitting that cancer with everything they have. To not treat it as serious means they do not understand cancer. She is a child with cancer - why deny treatment based on she can't even attend her Bible activities because the treatment has so weakened her.
Cancer treatments DO weaken the body - that is how they fight the cancer. And, of course, she will feel better without the treatment - but not for long. Cancer does not quit.
I also noticed that there is a fund already set up for her medical expenses. I don't think this family is playing with a full deck.
But, I wonder about the state moving in and pulling treatment or requiring treatment. We don't want the state determining medical care.
Yeah, rights are more important when talking about someone else's daughter. Rights are not quite that important when it means the life of your own daughter.
Rights are not quite that important when it means the life of your own daughter.
It is the life of their own daughter.
I read her blog, she seems like a very sweet and intelligent girl.
The part I liked best was the article's description about how the parents filmed their daughter stating that she felt better and didn't want the additional treatment, and how she added that no one was forcing her to make the statement. It was filmed by her parents, so they obviously put her up to making the statement! I'd bet you a semester's worth of financial aid that, if she were questioned away from her parents or her pastor, she would be saying something different.
I doubt that the parents have much of a legal leg on which to stand. Laws preventing parents from denying life-saving treatments for their children are not exactly old, nor are they unique to the state of Texas.
Interestingly, I was once conversing with the chief of surgery at the hospital where I study. The conversation was about this sort of situation. He said that, in all his years of practicing, whenever he came upon this type of situation, he found that if he talked to the patient away from their pastor or their parents/guardians, and showed them what was occurring inside their body, they always wanted whatever treatment would prolong their life.
So you kill your child by not giving him/her medical care and we will come in and force you to do what is right in our sight concerning the child.
So you want to save your child and give her medical care and we will come in and force you to do what is right in our sight concerning the child.
The common denominator here is that the state gets to decide what is right. I have very little belief that the state has suddenly gained a conscience. I see little evidence of it anywhere else. Their cries of "we are only trying to help the child" are not very credible when nothing else seems to cause them to make similar cries.
It all falls into the idea that they should have the last word concerning those in need. The state may have some interest here, but there is a lot of differing medical opinions concerning the effect of the radiation.
By the way the sons will be returned to the parents today.
I too would hold out on radiation as long as possible due to the side effects unless of course I was told she would die.
This was from some time ago, yet I received many responses I was unable to respond to on this and another thread (http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1420624/posts). Ive since found the time to write a bit about this story and incorporate some of the new developments. Thought some might be interested in this. Apologies for the delayed response.
That just makes me sick!!
Thanks for the update. This is very heartbreaking and absolutely unjust treatment of the parents. I guess the authorities aren't concerned about the emotional trauma they are inflicting upon Katie.