WINDSOR LOCKS -- The mother of a 17-year-old Connecticut teen with cancer is defending her daughter's decision to reject chemotherapy, even as her daughter's case heads to the state Supreme Court.
Jackie Fortin told Fox CT that her daughter is locked inside a hospital room, with an armed guard at the door. She said her daughter is simply trying to refuse chemotherapy treatments that are now being forced into her system.
"My daughter doesn't want to die and I don't want her to die," Fortin said of her daughter Cassandra. "So people out there think that I'm letting her do a death sentence and I'm not and neither is she. We are saying, these are her rights, these are her constitutional rights that have been taken away and not only that, the family has been separated at a time that it should not be."
Fortin told Fox CT her daughter was perfectly healthy until May, when she noticed her neck was swollen. After months of tests, doctors determined Cassandra likely had Hodgkin lymphoma.
Fortin said she wasn't sure of the diagnosis, so she pulled her daughter's records to bring to another hospital. But doctors claimed this was "neglect," Fortin told Fox CT. A motion was filed at the Department of Children and Families and the state was temporarily granted custody of Cassandra.
After a court order, Cassandra initially agreed to undergo chemotherapy, according to her mother. But after a few treatments, she ran away and went missing.
She was later found, and -- according to her mother -- was strapped to a hospital bed while a port was surgically implanted into her.
As a mother, she's only allowed to visit her daughter twice each week, Fortin said.
Fortin said her daughter didn’t have the chance to make her own decision, that instead she was taken away and had the surgery and chemo forced on her. Fortin admitted both she and her daughter are skeptical of chemotherapy.
"It kills the cancer, hopefully, but it also kills everything in your body," Fortin told Fox CT. "And for the rest of your life, you may have issues, you might have issues."
Cassandra's mother says she isn't worried about what will happen if her daughter doesn't undergo chemo.
"I'm not worried about if she doesn't do the chemo -- this whole thing is about the state coming in and forcing her out of the home and forcing her to do something with her body without her wanting to do that.
“The biggest thing people don’t understand is: this is not a death sentence. It’s not a suicide. It’s about rights,” said Fortin.
Cassandra and her lawyer will appear in front of the state Supreme court Thursday to defend her desire nto to take the drugs.
“The state shouldn’t be able to substitute its judgment for her judgment as long as she’s mature enough to understand what’s going on and to make a reasonable decision, and we think she is,” said Taylor during an interview with Fox CT on Friday.