HARLINGEN, Texas — A young cancer patient whose parents fought a bitter custody battle with the state over their daughter’s treatment was told the disease has aggressively returned, the girl’s father said Wednesday.
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In October, Katie Wernecke’s family Web site reported her cancer was in remission nearly a year after a judge returned the teen to her parents to resume her treatment for Hodgkin’s disease, a cancer of the lymph nodes.
“The last time it was gone,” Edward Wernecke said. “Now it’s already back.”
Katie, 14, has a large mass near her lower ribs, her father said.
The state had seized Katie from her parents in June 2005 after they refused radiation treatments. The Werneckes had argued chemotherapy already killed the cancer and they feared the radiation would do more harm than good.
In November 2005, Katie was returned to her parents, who took her to several states for various treatments, including intravenous vitamin C in Kansas and ultimately radiation.
Ed Wernecke said his daughter — a top student — had missed about a month of school to travel for treatments but was getting assignments and was expected to return to school on Thursday. He said both chemotherapy and radiation have failed and that she was currently undergoing immunology treatments.
“That’s where we’re at. She’s trying to boost her immune system that she has left,” he said.
The family’s most recent Web site posting rails against some of Katie’s medical treatment at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston when she was in foster care.
Hospital spokeswoman Julie Penne declined to comment “out of protecting her privacy.”
In a similar case, a Virginia judge in July ruled that 16-year-old Starchild Abraham Cherrix could reject chemotherapy for his Hodgkin’s disease in favor of alternative treatments. A doctor in September said Cherrix appeared to be improving.
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