Tampa judge orders chemo for young cancer patient; leaves door open for alternatives

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A 3-year-old cancer patient must undergo chemotherapy over the next 28 days despite the wishes of his parents, a Tampa judge ruled Wednesday afternoon. But she did not make a decision about treatment options after that.

The ruling marks the latest twist in the case of Noah McAdams, who was was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia back in April. After two rounds of chemotherapy, his parents Joshua McAdams and Taylor Bland decided they wanted to try a more natural, holistic approach.

When they failed to show up for a chemo appointment at All Children's Hospital on April 22, authorities tracked them down in Kentucky and brought the family back. Days later, a Tampa judge ordered temporary custody to Noah's maternal grandmother.

After a day's worth of testimony Wednesday, the judge decided that Noah would get chemotherapy for 28 days, but allowed the possibiliy of holistic treatments in conjunction with the chemo. She also delayed any ruling on follow-up rounds of treatment until a later date.

The media was not allowed into the courtroom because of patient privacy concerns.

Following the ruling, the couple joined their attorney outside court to say they'd abide by the ruling.

"It is a mixed bag in that we obviously have to watch this child go through chemotherapy, but we know that, at least with the use of cannabis and other treatment that the child will hopefully be able to deal with the chemotherapy better than not having those alternative treatments available," attorney Michael Minardi offered.

"I think it's real important that people know there are alternatives to chemotherapy," Taylor Bland added.

Earlier in the day, a handful of demonstrators gathered outside the courthouse with signs supporting the right of Noah's parents to make medical decisions for their son. One protestor, named Chanda, said she doesn't know the family, but was moved to support them because "when a parent isn't being negligent and they are doing everything in their power to keep their child healthy, it's their child, it should be their choice."

On Tuesday, Minardi had explained why the parents want to try cannabis as an alternative approach. "There are many studies that indicate that cannabis creates and causes cell death of cancer without the harmful side effects," Minardi told FOX 13.

But the science on cannabis is not widely accepted and the treatment is not FDA-approved. Chemotherapy, on the other hand, is shown to be 90-percent effective against the kind of leukemia Noah has, according Dr. Bijal Shah, of Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa.

While the side effects of chemo can be brutal, Dr. Shah says patients who end it early almost always see their cancer return.