Florida Parents Lose Custody of 4-Year-Old Son After Stopping Cancer Treatment
When your child is sick, all you want is for them to get better. But when parents and doctors don't agree on the best course of treatment, things can get complicated quickly, and it's the child who gets caught in the middle.
This is the case for Noah McAdams, a 4-year-old boy in Florida whose parents lost custody after refusing to continue with his scheduled chemotherapy. Per the Tampa Bay Times, Joshua McAdams and Taylor Bland-Ball decided to treat Noah's acute lymphoblastic leukemia with natural remedies and fled the state in search of alternative treatments with fewer side effects. After a lengthy custody battle against the state, the court determined that the parents can visit their son and go to doctor's appointments (with supervision), but his primary caretaker will be his grandmother.
Noah was diagnosed with cancer in early April and went through two rounds of chemotherapy. When he didn't show up for a third scheduled chemotherapy treatment last Monday at Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg, Florida, authorities issued an endangered child alert. Hours later, Noah was found with McAdams and Bland-Ball in a motel room in Kentucky.
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The parents were ordered to return Noah to Florida, and he was checked into the same hospital where he had been scheduled to continue chemotherapy. On Thursday, a judge ordered Noah to go home with his maternal grandparents—not his mom and dad—after doctors released him.
"This is not about whether we're choosing alternative therapies—natural therapies," Bland-Ball told ABC News. "This is about...our rights as parents to seek other options."
Noah's parents said that further testing showed he was technically cancer-free after the first two rounds of chemo, and because of the side effects, they wished to find an alternative treatment moving forward. But experts warn these blood tests don't show the full picture.
"We have no way of saying that he is cured of leukemia this early in therapy," Bijal Shah, M.D., the head of the Moffitt Cancer Center's Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia Program in Tampa, Florida, told ABC News. "We cannot assume cure because we see remission."
Dr. Shah, who is not treating Noah, told the Tampa Bay Times that when patients stop chemotherapy early, the cancer almost always returns.
But Michael Minardi, the attorney for Noah's parents, argues alternative treatments could be just as effective as chemotherapy. "We have to get over that fallacy that chemotherapy is the only treatment for people with cancer at this point, especially in Florida we have medical cannabis CBD, both of those are viable options," he told Fox 13.
He also says outside parties shouldn't be allowed to meddle in. "These situations are difficult enough for parents, and the state should not be involved with their ability to make decisions for the well-being of their child," Minardi told Parents.com. "The hospital, state, and doctor also are not willing to take responsibility for the harm it does to the child, if he suffers severe permanent side effects, dies as a result of the chemotherapy, or gets additional cancer in the future as a result of his current treatment."
Since Noah was removed from his parents' custody in April, he's been in state custody and receiving chemotherapy treatment. He has also been receiving alternative treatments, including CBD and THC oil, and the family is also still exploring other oncology treatment options, according to Fox 43.