UK & World News
Cancer Boy Court Case Delayed For A Week
The mother of a seven-year-old boy with cancer has said she does not want him to receive potentially life-saving radiotherapy because she is worried about the side effects.
Neon Roberts underwent surgery on a brain tumour in October and as a follow-up treatment doctors recommended a course of radiotherapy and chemotherapy.
But his mother Sally said the side effects of the radiation could have a "damaging effect on his future".
Her estranged husband Ben Roberts, however, agrees with doctors, who say his chances of survival would be increased if he had the treatment.
A High Court judge will rule on the matter later this month. A decision had been expected on Saturday, but a "change in the medical landscape" meant a new hearing was set for December 18 and 19.
Giving evidence to the court on Friday, Mrs Roberts said: "I wish for the best future for my son, the best quality of life. I fear radiotherapy could have damaging effects on his future."
Mrs Roberts described her son as having an "incredible sense of humour" and being "a great artist, vibrant and healthy".
She told the court that she had researched the side effects of radiotherapy and asked experts for advice.
She said she feared his IQ would be affected and that he could have a shorter life with increased chances of suffering a stroke.
Doctors said the boy's chances of surviving would be significantly reduced if he did not receive the radiotherapy and want to start the treatment next Thursday.
A doctor involved in Neon's care told the court that Ms Roberts' comments were very sensible and accepted that there could be side effects but said that without the treatment the little boy could die within a few months.
"I think it is a balance. I don't think it's a fine balance," said the doctor. "There is a distinct disadvantage in terms of the overall survival.
"There are side effects that occur but we must not underestimate the quality of life of patients who have these side effects."
He added: "The vast majority of parents will have concerns whether to make the decision but go with the treatment recommended."
Mr Roberts was not at the hearing because he was with Neon - but he wrote to tell the judge that he had agreed to radiotherapy because it seemed to be the"best course".
"Obviously I am concerned about side effects and slightly apprehensive about radiotherapy," said Mr Roberts' message.
"If Sally produces sufficient evidence that radiotherapy is not a necessity then I am happy to support her."
Mr Justice Bodey said the boy's condition was "the stuff of every parent's nightmare" and that he would balance the benefits of radiotherapy against the "downsides" when making his decision.
what do you think?
Perfect logic... give the kid a chance woman!
Oh Danny i don't think it's that easy when you're in the situation. She's obviously very scared about the side effects and doctors are not able to give exact answers as to how people may be affected by these treatments. Radiotherapy to the head is a scary scary option and she's a scared mother
She obviously did some research of her own and what she read frightened her and took what she read too seriously or didnt weigh up the risks properly.a bit like getting tablets from the doctor and reading the section "possible side effects"and believing it.youd end up not taking the tablets by taking this section seriously.the doctors should have spoken to her more in the first place and alleviated her fears.
Radiotherapy is seriously dangerous. Germany is the leading place for cancers. And they very rarely use this option.
Also, burzynski clinic..
Thats interesting ali.i dont get the impression this woman is being a bad mother.she read something that frightened her.
No Ali disagree with you on that. I've had cancer 3 times involving multiple chemos,stem cell transplant and radiotherapy plus 4 operations to remove meteses. The radiotherapy was given to a tumor in my chest which couldn't be removed it has an artery running through it. Radiotherapy to my chest has left me breathless I was breathless to start with after 2 chest opps the radiotherapy made it slightly worst. Today's treatments are accurate to within 1mm so only the tumor is irriciated and scaring to surrounding tissue is minimal. This lady in my opinion should let her child have the treatment
I think we need to leave them all in peace to sort it out. My last bout of radiotherapy left me in agony for weeks, with severe spinal pain i wouldn't wish on anyone. It's better now thank god, but treatment can be so hard, especially when the outcome is not a clear cut "cure", just keeping cancer at bay for as long as is possible. Other rads, to hip and ribs have not had the same inflammatory effects so i feel that it's all unknown territory with no assurances and therefore really scary. Hope things go well for you Robert
Thank you Louisa I wish the same too you x
"Possible" side effects or death - hmm, which should I choose?
ulia, with the greatest of respect, i have personal experience of this and treatment at all cost is not always desirable. This is a decision that i will have to face myself in the future and people get very tired of treatment and it's side effects. We do not have all the details she wll have and i think we should all step back and leave this difficult situation to the doctors, parents and courts
She is worried about the damaging effect it could have on his future??? He may not have a future if he doesnt have the treatment.
But Kerry, we do not have all the information that she will have at her disposal. It depends on the level of mental incapacity he may suffer. I don't believe in "life at whatever the cost"
Neither do i louisa but i know quite a lot about this on a personal level and if he can have a quality of life which he would then he should have the treatment.
Absolutely, but i think the problem is that the nature of his potentialdisability can't be quantified and i suppose it's the whole range from perfectly ok to profoundly mentally and physically disabled that is the scary bit. No one can say for sure and she must be terrified. I honestly don't know what i would do.
I have terminal cancer. but treatment will keep me alive for anything from a couple of years to a decade. As my illness progresses and the treatments become harsher there will be decisions that will need to be made. That's bad enough, but her situation is so much worse as she's going to have to make these decisions for him until he can decide for himself. It must ne so very hard for them?
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Tony the big picture is important, but the coverage of small stories that ask us questions about our humanity and raise ethical and moral issues is important too
Tragic. I am in no doubt that this woman cannot bear to see her boy suffer this horrendous treatment. Just one part worries me - that she's concerned his IQ will be affected. Some kids aren't as "bright" as others but I worry that she'll be disappointed with what's left of him after treatment and think that's rather vain. I think I'd just be glad he had recovered, whether he was no longer a genius or walked with a limp or whatever. Lots of people unfortunately suffer strokes, including slim ones who have never drunk to excess or smoked. I'd take the risk to try to save him.
It is very sad that this poor woman has to even be having this conversation about her child. I hope I never have to see my child through this. It is easy to say "silly woman" and "give him a chance". That was my first reaction and indeed I would hope I feel able to just do the right thing if I am ever faced with that terrible decision. I just want to say I hope this young boy makes it and that she makes the right decision whatever that is!
I think it may be made more difficult because no one can predict the extent of the mental disabilities he may be left with Jo. If it was just a question of an IQ that would be a wee bit lower then maybe that's different than if there would be severe developmental issues
I'm not surprised his mother said this. Look at what she called him. Hope his dad gets his way on this one.
Has the potential to become a child protection issue now.Lets hope he's made a ward of court and given the life saving treatment he needs.
But only if that is truly truly in his best interests.
Seems to be a choice of keeping the boy alive as a vegetable or letting him die.
Has anyone asked the boy what he wants?
I think they sound like the kind of parents who may have discussed this truthfully and openly with their boy, but that's just my impression
Ive got to say that my wife died of cancer some years back now but she got to a point where she could stand the chemotherapy no longer and refused having treatment.maybe this woman has witnessed this.
sorry to hear that shaun. i do think that if you have watched someone go through gruelling treatment, or indeed had to go through it yourself, that you realise it's not always for the best. Making the decision for yourself id one thing, but to have to consider what is best for a child is a horrendous situation to be in. It's very difficult.