Judge Rules Boy With Leukemia Will Get Chemotherapy Despite Parents’ Wishes

By Victor Westerkamp

A judge has dismissed the wishes of a couple seeking alternative therapy options for their three-year-old son suffering from leukemia, and ordered the immediate resumption of chemotherapy treatment.

After two days of hours-long testimony, Hillsborough Circuit Judge Caroline Tesche Arkin ruled late Wednesday afternoon, May 1, that Noah McAdams, who was diagnosed with leukemia, must immediately undergo chemo treatment, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

“It could have been worse,” said the 28-year-old father, Joshua McAdams, right after the hearing to the assembled press.

Michael Minardi, the parents’ attorney, clarified: “The best thing about this ruling, is she (Judge Arkin) didn’t chart the course for three and a half years.”

He continued, “She charted this course for the first phase of chemotherapy only and encouraged the parties to get together and talk about other possibilities.”

On April 4, Noah was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia—a cancer of the blood and bone marrow.

Noah underwent two rounds of chemo at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida, last month, but his parents decided to stop before the third round of treatment because they were concerned about side effects. Instead, they wanted to look for other types of treatment, like medicinal cannabis.

The Department of Children and Families didn’t leave it at that, however, and obtained an order to take Noah into custody. Meanwhile, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office issued a missing and endangered child alert on April 29 on Facebook, stating the parents “refused to follow up with lifesaving medical care that the child needs.”

On May 1, the family was retrieved in Kentucky, and Noah was brought back under custody to Johns Hopkins Hospital the next day.

Noah’s mother, Taylor Bland-Ball, told ABC News there was no danger when they took him to Kentucky: “We just want him to be healthy, happy, and with his family that’s going to give him the absolute best care,” she said. “They made it seem like we were trying to run away like we were trying to seek no treatment whatsoever and that’s completely not the case.” She said they were taking him to Kentucky for a second opinion.

The case has caused a lot of controversy on the internet.  David Gorski, MD, Ph.D., who goes by the blog name  “Orac,” wrote on his website: “Yes, where you [sic] see two parents endangering the life of a child with cancer, quacks see grave injustice because the parents weren’t permitted to treat their child’s cancer with whatever magic they want to. As is the case with many antivaxers, these believers in alternative medicine appear to believe in absolute parental rights to treat their child medically however they deem fit. It never occurs to them that the child has rights of his own, among them the rights not to be unnecessarily subjected to deadly disease and not to die of cancer unnecessarily due to medical neglect.”

Ayurvedic therapist and author Andreas Moritz said on his Facebook page: “The cancer industry tries to use statistical ‘evidence’ to convince you that you need to entrust your life into their hands. However, any chemotherapy success stories are limited to relatively obscure types of cancer, such as Burkitt’s lymphoma and choriocarcinoma, so rare that many clinicians have never seen a single case. Childhood leukemia constitutes less than 2 percent of all cancers, and thus hardly influences the overall success rate. [sic] The bottom line is this: Although only 2-4% of cancers respond to chemotherapy, it has now become standard procedure to prescribe chemo drugs for most cancers. The percentage of people with cancer in the U.S. who receive chemotherapy is 75%.

The judge last week granted Noah’s grandparents the right to take care of him for the time being until the decision, but the state will maintain custody. Noah’s chemo treatment was scheduled to be resumed last Thursday.

The family says the fight isn’t over yet as they are planning on filing an appeal to the decision.