Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 2 October 2014

Mother defends cancer legal quest

Neon Roberts's mother has said she stands by her legal bid to try to stop her son receiving radiotherapy (Devon and Cornwall Police/PA)

A mother has said she stands by her legal bid to try to stop her seven-year-old son receiving radiotherapy for a brain tumour, describing the treatment as "barbaric and plain torture".

A High Court judge ruled late last year that Sally Roberts' son Neon should undergo radiotherapy for the cancerous tumour against her wishes. Although the youngster has a survival rate of up to 82% now, Ms Roberts, 37, said she was upset by the decision to press ahead with the gruelling treatment.

Asked for her view on the legal battle, she told BBC Radio 5 Live's Victoria Derbyshire: "I stand by that. I'm upset that they moved forward in the way they have. I'm having to face the side-effects from the radiation and the chemotherapy, which is devastating."

Ms Roberts, a New Zealander living in Brighton, East Sussex, said "weak and fragile" Neon had lost his hair and suffered weight loss, poor short-term memory and poor co-ordination. But, despite the side-effects, Ms Roberts said she has been told the success rate from having the treatment has been put at between 67% and 82%.

She said: "I have never doubted that he was not going to be alive at the end of this, with or without treatment. I just felt that he would be much better off without the treatment and providing the body with what it needs to heal, not bombarding it with radiation, which is what we are taught to avoid. I don't understand why we are using it in hospitals. I find it barbaric and plain torture. Needlessly, children are suffering."

She added that the course of treatment was "unnecessary" and went on: "They just come in with their conventional cure and it's worse than the condition itself."

Ms Roberts hit the headlines when she disappeared with Neon but both were found safe and well after a judge ordered a search. She later apologised for vanishing and said that she had panicked.

In December, a High Court judge ruled that Neon could receive radiotherapy for the tumour, against the wishes of Ms Roberts whose judgment, he said, "had gone awry". Mr Justice Bodey dismissed Ms Roberts' attempt to prevent her son having radiotherapy treatment, and expressed concern over her decision-making regarding his welfare.

The judge ruled that radiotherapy sessions could start and that Neon should live with his father Ben - who is separated from Ms Roberts - for the duration of his treatment.

Professor Richard Grundy, a professor of paediatric neuro-oncology, told the show: "I think we all accept that we are using treatments that are fighting fire with fire but we do so with reasonable success. We all accept that we are still using treatments that have significant side-effects but the notion that we are not doing anything to understand that is untrue."

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