Cassandra Fortin: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know
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Cassandra Fortin: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

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Cassandra pictured with her mother, Jackie. (Screengrab via NBC Connecticut)

A 17-year-old girl is fighting the state of Connecticut over her right to refuse life-saving health treatment. Cassandra Fortin suffers from Hodgkins Lymphoma, a relatively treatable form of cancer. She was diagnosed in September 2014. She has resisted the chemotherapy to treat the condition and is now in the custody of the state. Her case went before the Connecticut Superior Court. Under state law, Cassandra is not allowed to make decisions about medical care until she is 18.

Here’s what you should know about Cassandra and this controversial medical case:


1. Cassandra Ran Away From Home to Avoid Chemo

Speaking to Fox News, Cassandra’s mother, Jackie, said that her daughter is financially independent and makes most of her own life decisions, despite technically being a minor. In an interview with NBC Connecticut, Jackie said “She’s very independent. She works a job, pays her own bills [and has] her own responsibilities.” The Hartford Courant reports that Jackie initially forced her daughter to go along with the chemo in November 2014. Her compliance with the doctors ended when Cassandra ran away from home to avoid treatment.


2. She’s Being Kept in a Children’s Hospital Against Her Will

The Hartford Courant reports that the Connecticut Department of Children and Families have taken custody of Cassandra and she is being kept at the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center in Hartford against her will. The family are being represented, in part, by Assistant Public Defender Joshua Michtom who told the Courant:

The bigger question is: Can a smart and knowledgeable 17-year-old make the same choice, for better or worse, than she would be able to make without state interference nine months from now, when she turns 18?

The family are also being represented by attorneys Michael Taylor and James Sexton of West Hartford.

In a statement the Connecticut DCF said it was forced to act because “experts, such as the several physicians involved in this case, [told] us with certainty that a child will die as a result of leaving a decision up to a parent.”


3. Cassandra Told Her Mother Years Ago That She Would Never Have Chemo

WTNH reports that the decision wwent before the Connecticut Superior Court on January 8. The court decided that Cassandra has to continue her chemo under state supervision, reports the Hartford Courant. After leaving the court, Cassandra’s mother told reporters, “My daughter is mature, this was a mistake.”

James Sexton had told WTNH that he “would not be surprised with an abbreviated court decision very quickly after the oral arguments, followed by a full decision in the coming months.” In a letter to the Supreme Court, Cassandra wrote that “no one has let [me] breathe.” Her mother says that Cassandra’s decision was not motivated by religious belief and that years ago, Cassandra has said in passing that she wouldn’t want chemo if she contracted cancer. Jackie told NBC Connecticut that she has never had any problems with raising Cassandra.

James Sexton Lawyer West Hartford Connecticut

Fortin lawyer James Sexton. (LinkedIn)


4. Cassandra Has ‘Put Up a Fight’ Against Hospital Staff

Cassandra had to be restrained by hospital staff and “put up a fight,” according to her mother, when she had preparatory surgery for her chemo, reports the Hartford Courant. Jackie goes on to say that her daughter hasn’t been allowed to leave her hospital room in four weeks. The hospital notified the DCF after Cassandra had part of her lymph node surgically removed in November. The Courant reports that Jackie told the hospital that she was taking her daughter out of the hospital and was seeking a second opinion. The DCF went to the supreme court and won a temporary custody order. Attorney Dan Klau, who is familiar with the case but not involved, told NBC Connecticut that the DCF still have the law on their side, he says that Cassandra “was skipping medical appointments and fighting with the doctors over the diagnosis and treatment.”


5. Cassandra Turns 18 in September

Michael Taylor West Hartford Lawyer

One of the family’s attorneys, Michael Taylor. (TaylorSexton.com)

In the state of Connecticut, a person can drive at 16 and have an abortion without parental consent at 17. Attorney Michael Taylor told Fox Connecticut that this is proof that a 17-year-old should have control over their medical treatment. He said in an interview with the station:

You’re balancing a serious need for treatment against her fundamental right to say what goes on with her body.

Cassandra turns 18 in September 2015. Meanwhile she remains in a hospital and is getting chemo against her will.

23 Comments

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23 Comments

Anonymous

My daughter was diagnosed with Hodgkins in 2007. She received chemo and radiation. She is fine now. Please receive the treatment and save your life Cassandra. I understand all your feelings but this is your life. And I also was blessed with a Grandson 4 years later ,who is a healthy little guy.

Anonymous

This has been my experience, too, with people with Hodgkins. All four have been alive for years. I don’t know how this mother is okay with the girl not getting treatment. Very soon, this teenage girl will be very sick with cancer and it’s going to be a horrible thing for both her and her mother. I hope they come to their senses.

Lisa

Murderer! You Jackie are a murderer! Do you know how many mothers have to face the uncertainty that cancer brings to your child? Do you know how many mothers have to hear words like there’s nothing more we can do from doctors? Do you know how many mothers have to hear their child has a 0% cure rate? You are a worthless mother. Your daughter is nothing more than a vain princess, who doesn’t understand the value of life. My son died of a malignant brain tumor. With treatments he lived an additional 11 years. During those 11 years my Thomas would become an honor student, an all star, a hero to his friends and community. He would throw out the first pitch in many baseball stadiums. Vacationed 98 times. Got to meet some sweet celebrities., signed autographs, the list goes on forever and ever. Thomas was loved like no other child. He smiled through his sickness and never complained about life. Instead he embraced it. Thomas never had a cure rate of 85-90 percent, like your princess. He lost his hair 3 times. He flaunted his bald good looks all over the place. Maybe you should have taught your daughter that beauty starts from the inside. Maybe she wouldn’t have been so vain. When she dies, and you speak at her eulogy, you will then understand the value of life. It’s nit about constitutional rights. It’s about saving the life of what most mothers value as their most priced possession. I’m ashamed to have heard about you. Ashamed of your selfish daughter. When you go to visit her grave, it will be the that you say, “What have I done?”

Jay

“It’s nit about constitutional rights. It’s about saving the life of what most mothers value as their most priced possession.”

“It’s not about you, it’s all about ME!” Fixed…

Your whole comment, aside from your sad (yet still self-centered) anecdotes, is a vitriolic tantrum from an egomaniac.

“Fuck your rights, fuck your individualism. Fuck anything I wouldn’t have done or agreed with! I have no respect for you as an individual… My love and, by extension, potential pain from your loss takes priority over anything related to you. I put you in this world, and I’m the only one allowed to take you out!”

Anonymous

Soo what’s your child got to do with this? You have every right to mourn the loss of your child, however, you have no right to tell someone else what to do with theirs. Im sorry youve had to experience what you’ve experienced but youre no expert in this situation. Everyone is an expert of their own experience.

Anonymous

You are the selfish one with your lack of understanding of what is happening by assuming your story is equal to this story. You are transfering the anger you have from your situtation on to a suffering family and girl. Your actions are narcissism/psychopathic which has no place for comments on this site. I suggest you go to grief counciling and refain from in the internet untl you resolve your anger issue.

Le

Lisa, I am sorry for your loss. But your experience does not give you the right shame or smear another mother. Jackie has taught her daughter to be strong willed, responsible and she seems to be very articulate. Asking for a second opinion and directing your own treatment plan is not to much to ask. They took her rights away before she had a chance to get a second opinion. To often Doctors act as if they are god and we as patients have no right to question them. It is call Practicing medicine for a reason, they have no guarantees. So everyone should question their doctors. Give Jackie a break, her daughter is not dead. She is struggling with disease and treatment without anyone around to comfort her.

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