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Parents Refuse Chemo For Daughter, Court Intervenes

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(credit: CBS) Reg Chapman
Reg Chapman joined WCCO-TV in May of 2009. He came to WCCO fr...
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MINNETONKA, MINN. (WCCO) - A Twin Cities family fought for the right to help decide how doctors treat their daughter’s cancer.

Karen Parisian says her 8-year-old, Sarah, is having a hard time from just one cycle of chemotherapy. She’s suffered from nausea, sore throat, hair and weight loss.

“The week that we were to start chemo she was sleeping 22 hours a day,” said Parisian.

So Sarah’s family wanted to stick to what they know best: alternative medicine.

No more chemo.

“She is very sick from the standard treatment so we wanted to explore and option of modifying the treatment so that it would be more appropriate for Sarah,” she said.

The Parisians feared the side effects, but doctors felt Sarah’s survival was compromised each day she went without treatment.

So child protective services got involved.

“So in order to modify her treatment we had to go in front of a judge and fortunately we seem to be working this out,” she said.

The Minnetonka family was ordered into court and told if they did not work with them on a treatment plan, they would lose custody of Sarah.

“As parents, you don’t have the right to choose the kind of treatment you want your child to have,” she said.

Dr. Kevin Conners is an integrative cancer specialist. He believed there was a way to give both sides what they wanted.

“Do what’s best for the patient,” said Conners. “Let’s take her case as an individual case and not try to fit her into what is standard protocol and look at her as an individual what she can tolerate what other therapies added to a traditional approach is going to be best for her.”

So after an agreement with the court, Sarah is staying at home, and her parents are following a treatment plan.

“It’s going to include some chemotherapy, but it’s going to include a dose that is not going to send her tipping over the edge,” said Connors.

The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office says it respects the right of parents to make decisions for their children.

But it says it had strong evidence that the Parisians weren’t doing what was best for Sarah.

As of today, the family is cooperating with the medical testing plan established last week in court.

Sarah begins testing and treatment on Friday.

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