Michelle Christenson  /  Corpus Christi Caller-Times
Katie Wernecke, 13, center, is escorted from the Nueces County Child Protective Services office in Corpus Christi, Texas, by office employees after a birthday party on Friday. Her parents returned to court Wednesday seeking to retake custody of her.
updated 6/15/2005 10:52:01 PM ET 2005-06-16T02:52:01

A mother seeking the return of her cancer-stricken 13-year-old daughter testified Wednesday that she is eager to resume treatments for her daughter and would follow the advice of doctors.

Katie Wernecke was placed in foster care earlier this month by Child Protective Services, which thought her parents were endangering her welfare by refusing further treatment for her Hodgkin’s Disease, a type of cancer that involves the lymph nodes.

The family has said they believed the cancer had been eliminated.

“I will not run off,” said Katie’s mother, Michele Wernecke, who will return to the stand Thursday when the custody hearing resumes. “She needs medical help right now.”

Michele Wernecke fled to a family ranch with her daughter after a CPS worker told her they would take custody of the child if the family continued to refuse treatment.

Earlier Wednesday, the girl’s former doctor testified he thought the cancer returned because of the family’s refusal to submit Katie to radiation therapy.

Dr. Nejemie Alter diagnosed Katie’s illness after she was taken to an emergency room in January with what her parents thought was pneumonia. Alter became her regular doctor but later ended the relationship because of extensive media coverage.

A doctor Katie was due to see Monday also withdrew from the case, saying he had been threatened with a lawsuit. She was to be taken to M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston to see doctors and possibly resume treatment on Friday.

Three doctors urge same treatment
At least three doctors have said the best course of treatment for Katie would have been chemotherapy followed by radiation. The Werneckes have repeatedly sought additional opinions and requested alternatives be tried.

Edward Wernecke, Katie’s father, has told The Associated Press he feared the radiation would put Katie at a heightened risk for breast cancer, stunt her growth and cause learning problems.

When state officials revealed last week the cancer had returned, attorneys for the Werneckes said it was never the family’s intention to deny necessary medical treatment.

After Wednesday’s hearing, Edward Wernecke told reporters he thought there had been a big misunderstanding. He said Alter had led him to believe four rounds of chemotherapy were enough.

“After we finished with the four chemos, we thought that’s all there was,” he said. He said it was “heart-wrenching” to be without his daughter.

© 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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