Cancer patient’s father allowed to visit

12 years ago Comments Off on Cancer patient’s father allowed to visit

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (AP) – The Texas Supreme Court has ruled that a man can have supervised contact with his 13-year-old daughter, who was placed in state custody because her parents refused to continue her cancer treatments.

Katie Wernecke was removed from her parents’ care in June. Since then, only her mother, Michelle Wernecke, was allowed supervised visits.

The court’s order Friday maintains neither parent will have access to Katie if it is determined they are persuading her to avoid treatment for Hodgkin’s disease, a cancer of the lymph nodes.

All contact must be scheduled and in cooperation with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. Also, the order states that a department representative must be present by telephone or in person during all contact.

“It’s a small step forward and a very important step,” said Katie’s father, Edward Wernecke. “A child should not have to go through this.”

Katie was diagnosed in January after she was taken to an emergency room with what her parents thought was pneumonia. She received chemotherapy, and doctors recommended it be followed with radiation.

Her parents refused. Edward Wernecke said he feared the radiation would put Katie at a heightened risk for breast cancer, stunt her growth and cause learning problems.

Katie was removed by Child Protective Services officials after doctors said the Werneckes were risking their daughter’s life by refusing the radiation therapy. A scan in June revealed the cancer had returned, and Katie’s former doctor testified he thought its return was linked to the refusal to go forward with the radiation.

Since the CPS move, Katie has been at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, where doctors recommended she undergo high-dose chemotherapy followed by radiation.

Aaron Reed, spokesman for Child Protective Services, said the court’s order didn’t change much as far as the state’s position that Katie must receive appropriate treatment.

“For her to receive the treatment, her medical team says it’s necessary to get her better so she can go back home,” Reed said.