A teenage girl refused further cancer treatment despite orders from New South Wales (NSW) Supreme Court judge to continue chemotherapy.
The 16-year-old, identified as AC, was diagnosed with a bone cancer last year. She started a course of chemotherapy and when an MRI scan was taken some months later, the cancer was no longer visible, according to a NSW Supreme Court decision published last week.
The girl believed she had been miraculously cured due a ‘’healing miracle from God’’.
However, her doctor cautioned that the absence of visible cancer did not mean she was cured and that there was “100 per cent likelihood” of the tumour progressing over the next several months to two years. He warned that without continuation of chemotherapy, its resurgence could kill her as it may become resistant to treatment.
Despite this, with the support of her family, AC adamantly refused to continue chemotherapy, citing her Christian faith as the basis for her decision. She believed that her prayers had been answered and that she was now free from cancer.
“When the scans came back clear, I remember the doctors telling me they were not expecting not to be able to see it on the scans,” the girl said, according to evidence presented to the court.
“I know it might be hard for other people to understand, but in my mind, the only way to explain these results was that they were in answer to our prayers and a complete healing miracle from God.
“I do not want to continue with chemotherapy because I believe I no longer have cancer due to the miracle that has taken place … I believe that God has healed me. I don’t require any further treatment.”
Judge Michael Meek, presiding over the case, acknowledged AC's autonomy in making medical decisions, but underscored the sanctity of life as a paramount consideration.
During the court order he delved into the intricate interplay between faith, medical evidence, and individual autonomy, recognising the complexity inherent in such matters.
Judge Michael Meek said there was evidence before him that the girl believed if the cancer returned “it would represent God’s will, and her belief of death is that she would be returned to Jesus, her ‘lord and saviour’, and she would have ‘eternal life in heaven’.”
AC said if ordered to resume treatment “I wouldn’t be happy about it but I know … I would have to do it”.
She also said if scans showed the cancer had come back “I’d most likely start treatment again”.
Meek determined the girl did have the right make the decision to refuse further treatment, but he decided to make a court order authorising treatment to continue.
The teenager has another scan booked at the end of February.