Teen forced to undergo cancer treatment says new mass found

A teenager who was forced by the courts to undergo chemotherapy for her cancer says a new mass has been found in her lungs.

Cassandra Callender, of Windsor Locks, disclosed the news Saturday on her Facebook page, posting an image of a CT scan dated Friday.

"This is the mass that is now inside of my lung," she wrote. "I've known about this for a while, but it's been hard going public with it. But this is why I fought so hard against chemotherapy. I am so sick of being treated like number and how everything is based off of statistics. I am a patient not a number."

Callender, who at 18 is now legally old enough to make her own treatment decisions, told The Associated Press in a text message Monday that she is "moving forward with alternative treatments."

Callender had been in remission after undergoing five months of forced chemotherapy for Hodgkin lymphoma when she was 17. She had said she didn't want to poison her body with chemotherapy.

The state had argued that the treatment would give her an 85 percent chance of survival.

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"Here is my '85% chance' of life after chemo," she wrote in her Facebook post. "Unfortunately I didn't make the 85%, I fell into the 15%."

Callender and her mother initially refused the chemotherapy, saying they wanted to explore more natural alternative treatments.

The state Department of Children and Families stepped in and a Juvenile Court judge removed her from her home, placed her under guard in the Connecticut Children's Medical Center and ordered her to undergo chemo.

Her case went to the state Supreme Court, which ruled in January 2015 that Connecticut's Department of Children and Families wasn't violating her rights.

The case centered on whether the girl was mature enough to determine how to treat her cancer. Several other states recognize the mature minor doctrine.

Connecticut's high court found that Cassandra, who ran away during a home visit, had demonstrated she did not have the maturity to make her own medical decisions.

She was released from the hospital last April.

DCF issued a statement Monday saying it empathizes with Callender and wishes the best for her and her family.

"From the beginning, the department has been guided by the medical experts' judgement about what would be in Cassandra's best interest," the statement said. "Cassandra's health and well-being remain in the forefront of our thoughts and our hopes for her full recovery."

Callender said a page has been set up on the GoFundMe website to help her offset the costs of alternative cancer treatments and hire an attorney.