- The Washington Times - Monday, October 13, 2003

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Only weeks ago, Daren and Barbara Jensen appeared to be prevailing in the fight to keep their 12-year-old son off chemotherapy — just as their son, Parker, seemed to be beating his battle with cancer.

After a public outpouring of sympathy for the family, Utah authorities last month dropped a bid to get custody of the boy as well as kidnapping charges against the parents for taking their son out of state to avoid the court-ordered chemotherapy.

The Jensens insist the boy is cancer-free and refuse to give him the treatment.

But a key complaint against the Jensens remains. State officials refuse to withdraw a petition accusing the parents of medical neglect — a complaint that could cost the Jensens custody of their son and restore the chemotherapy order.

A juvenile-court judge set a Nov. 17-19 trial. State child-welfare authorities say the longer Parker goes without chemotherapy, the more likely he is to die.

Outside court last week, Mr. Jensen lashed out at state officials for refusing to drop the complaint, filed by doctors who first recommended chemotherapy for Parker.

The doctors “don’t know the facts,” Mr. Jensen said.

“They said there was a tremendous risk of not doing chemotherapy six months ago. Well, the risks are getting less and less, aren’t they?”

He said his son’s tumor is more than a year old, and after its discovery doctors contended that the cancer would metastasize in two weeks.

“It’s been a year. So evidently it’s not as bad as they say. Wouldn’t you err on the side of caution?” he said.

Parker was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, an aggressive cancer that most commonly afflicts adolescents.

A tumor was removed from the soft palate of his mouth six months ago, and the Jensens say it may never have been cancerous, despite the diagnoses of at least five doctors. Blood tests since then have detected no lingering cancer cells, and Parker is healthy and happy, the parents say.

But the doctors who filed the complaint say microscopic cancer cells are impossible to detect. Without chemotherapy, they say, Parker’s cancer is a time bomb waiting to explode and spread rapidly through his body. Then, doctors say, chemotherapy would be ineffective.

Richard Anderson, director of the Utah Division of Child and Family Services, said the law requires his agency to pursue the medical-neglect complaint.


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