Parents Can Decide Child's Cancer Treatment, Judge Rules

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The parents of a young cancer patient who have been fighting state officials over their daughter's care can now make all her medical decisions.

In a ruling Wednesday, a judge also ordered that 13-year-old Katie Wernecke be consulted in her treatment.

State district Judge Jack Hunter ruled earlier this week that Katie would be better off with her family in Corpus Christi than in the custody of foster parents she was assigned by Child Protective Services.

But the girl's family could not pursue their preferred alternative treatment until an official order was signed and clarified what treatment at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston would be completed.

Katie's parents have made several attempts to stop treatment for the youngster's Hodgkin's disease (search), a cancer of the lymph nodes (search). She was diagnosed in January and began receiving chemotherapy (search), which doctors recommended be followed with radiation (search).

Edward Wernecke has said he wants to take his daughter to a clinic in Kansas that offers intravenous vitamin C in an effort to kill the cancer and strengthen her immune system.

Wednesday's ruling says Katie must complete her current round of chemotherapy and be stable to travel, which could happen by the end of the week.

Hunter, a cancer survivor himself, said that time was running out as lawyers argued and he had to move quickly.

Katie's oncologist (search) has said her chances of surviving have fallen from 80 percent to about 20 percent because of incomplete treatment.

Children's Protective Services spokesman Aaron Reed said the state would respect the decision.

"I think we all understand that this has been a very emotionally charged case," Reed said. "We just have different opinions as to what is best for her."

The state took custody of Katie in June after a doctor told social workers her parents were risking her life by refusing treatment. She has been living with a foster family and attending school at the hospital.

"We'll get her as soon as the doctors say it's OK, hopefully Friday or Saturday," Edward Wernecke said. "We're going right to Kansas."