x

Society

Cassandra Callender, Forced to Undergo Chemo, Dies at 22

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Cassandra Callender, who was forced by Connecticut courts as a teenager to undergo chemotherapy for cancer, has died after a five-year battle with the disease, her mother said Thursday. She was 22.

Callender, of Windsor Locks, died Tuesday at home, where she had been in hospice care for four months, Jackie Fortin said.

"The cancer never went away," Fortin said. "They said they saved her life. They lied. She suffered for five years. It was horrific. If you did that to your dog, you'd get arrested."

A judge in 2015 ordered Callender, known as "Cassandra C." during her legal fight, to undergo chemotherapy for Hodgkin's lymphoma after she refused treatment, saying she didn't want to poison her body.

The state Department of Children and Families stepped in, and a juvenile court judge removed Callender, who was 17 at the time, from her home and placed her under guard in the Connecticut Children's Medical Center.

Her case went to the state Supreme Court, which ruled in January 2015 that the department wasn't violating her rights.

The case was argued under what is known as the mature minor doctrine, centering on whether Callender was mature enough to determine how to treat her cancer.

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

Doctors eventually implanted a port in her daughter against her will to administer treatment, Fortin said. She lived at the hospital for sixth months.

Callender disclosed in 2016 that a mass had been found on her lungs and that she would undergo alternative treatments. 

At that point an adult and able to make her own decisions, Callender eventually agreed to more chemo, immunotherapy and other treatments, but the cancer spread, Fortin said.

"Some things work, some things don't. Nothing always works. Neither is a guarantee," she said. "That was the point we were trying to make all along. It should have been her choice."

During her illness, Callender gave birth to twin sons, who are now 19 months old.

Fortin is remembering her daughter as very intelligent and liked by teachers and peers, but said she was denied many of the joys of being a teenager, such as getting a driver's license. 

Her mother said she plans to set up a website to help offset funeral costs.

"I raised her to be a fighter, and that's what she was," Fortin said. "She went through hell. She never had a life. She never had a chance. I hold every doctor and nurse who touched her, DCF, the courts — I hold everyone responsible."

Officials at the Department of Children and Families did not immediately return messages seeking comment.

RELATED

COLLEYVILLE, Texas — An armed man who took four people hostage during a 10-hour standoff at a Texas synagogue had spent time in area homeless shelters in the two weeks leading up to the attack, and was dropped off at one by someone he appeared to know.

Top Stories

Politics

ANKARA - Turkey's swiveling between offering diplomacy or gunboats and demands that Greece take troops off its islands near Turkey's coast is roiling the waters between the countries and plans to hunt for energy.

United States

NEW YORK – Grammy-nominated artist Eric Alexandrakis announced his latest release due out on February 1, titled Good Girls Never Waltz With Me, another new genre-bending addition to his critically acclaimed TERRA series of releases.

General News

ATHENS – Five members of the World Hellenic Interparliamentary Association (WHIA), with Rhode Island State Senator Leonidas Raptakis as head of the group, visited Evros on January 12-13.

Video

Despite Huge Volcano Blast, Tonga Avoids Widespread Disaster

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — The blast from the volcano could be heard in Alaska, and the waves crossed the ocean to cause an oil spill and two drownings in Peru.