Video: Chemotherapy concerns

updated 6/11/2005 9:56:21 PM ET 2005-06-12T01:56:21

A 13-year-old cancer patient will get the radiation treatment her parents had opposed after new medical tests showed she is no longer in remission.

Katie Wernecke’s parents decided to drop their objection to the treatment after the tests were disclosed during a juvenile court hearing Friday. Katie, who turned 13 on Saturday, will remain in state custody as her therapy gets under way.

Michele and Edward Wernecke lost custody of Katie last week after doctors said lack of treatment could be life-threatening. The parents had insisted that the four rounds of chemotherapy Katie received then had killed the cancer and that more radiation would only harm a healthy girl.

'Changes everything'
The new testing result “changes everything,” said attorney Daniel Horne, who represents Michele and Edward Wernecke.

Katie was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Disease in January, when her parents brought her to the hospital for pneumonia treatment. Hodgkin’s is a type of cancer involving the lymph nodes.

“The Werneckes have never said that they would deny medical treatment to their daughter if she was ill and getting worse,” Horne told state juvenile court Judge Carl Lewis.

Image: Katie Wernecke.
beyondmissing.com via AP
Cancer patient Katie Wernecke is seen in this undated photo. 
Lewis called off a custody hearing scheduled for next week unless the Werneckes could present compelling evidence that Katie was still in remission. Horne said the treatments were set for next week.

The judge said that the parents would be allowed to attend the treatments but that doctors would make the decisions.

“Early evidence indicates that given opportunity to abscond with the child, they did. And no way would I give them opportunity to do that again now,” the judge said.

Charges against mother dropped
Last week, authorities issued an Amber Alert to gain temporary custody of Katie after receiving a tip about possible neglect. She was found with her mother at a family ranch, about 80 miles west of Corpus Christi near Freer, on Saturday.

Charges against Michele Wernecke, who was free on $50,000 bond, were dropped Friday. The family’s other children, three boys, were reunited with the parents Friday following a CPS inspection of the home.

The couple, members of the Church of God, have said they oppose blood transfusions unless they were from Katie’s mother. But Horne has said religion wasn’t at issue in the fight over cancer treatment.

Rather, they believe doctors weren’t upfront about Katie’s care and did not answer all their questions about the side effects of the radiation, Horne said.

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