HARTFORD, Conn. » A 17-year-old girl forced by the courts to undergo chemotherapy for her cancer has finished that treatment and was released Monday from a hospital where she had been confined since December.
The teen, identified only as Cassandra C, told The Associated Press in text messages that she was discharged from a Hartford hospital on Monday afternoon and was going home to Windsor Locks, about 15 miles away.
"I’m so happy to finally be on my way home, after 5 months," she wrote. "It feels almost unreal. The feeling of fresh air is wonderful."
Doctors say her Hodgkin lymphoma, diagnosed in September, is in remission. Cassandra posted photos online Friday after having the ports used to administer the chemotherapy removed from her body.
Cassandra and her mother initially refused the chemo. They have said they wanted to explore more natural alternative treatments.
The state Department of Children and Families stepped in and a Juvenile Court judge removed her from her home and ordered her to undergo chemo.
The case eventually went to the state Supreme Court, which ruled in January that Connecticut wasn’t violating Cassandra’s rights.
The case centered on whether the girl was mature enough to determine how to treat her cancer. Several other states recognize the mature minor doctrine.
Connecticut’s high court found that Cassandra, who ran away during a home visit in November, had demonstrated she did not have the maturity to make her own medical decisions.
She will be free to make her own medical decisions when she turns 18 in September.
Cassandra was confined at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center and underwent six rounds of treatment that doctors say will give her an 85 percent chance of survival. Without the chemotherapy, doctors said it was almost certain the teen would die.
She said doctors told her in early March that her cancer was in remission and posted on Facebook that she was grateful she had responded well to the drugs and never wanted to die.
"I stood up and fought for my rights, and I don’t regret it," she said.
Cassandra said her mother surprised her Monday by bringing her best friend along for the trip to pick her up and take her home.
"This day seemed like it would never come," she told the AP. "I can finally start putting my life back together, and I look forward to spending time with my mom, friends and heading back to school/work."
Associated Press writer Dave Collins contributed to this report.