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Saturday 23 August 2014

Runaway mother ‘would allow radiotherapy if son's cancer has come back'

Published 10/12/2012 | 11:02

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Sally Roberts, the woman who ran away with her seven-year-old son to stop him having cancer treatment, said she will agree to radiotherapy if doctors find his brain tumour has returned. Photo: PA
Neon Roberts
Sally Roberts leaves the High Court in Central London. Photo: PA

A MOTHER who ran away with her seven year-old son to prevent him receiving life-saving medical treatment has admitted that she would reconsider radiotherapy if his cancer had returned.

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A High Court ruling on whether Neon Roberts should receive treatment against the wishes of his mother Sally Roberts was delayed on Saturday amid fears his cancerous brain tumour had returned.

Mr Justice Bodey told a specially convened hearing there had been medical "developments" regarding the young boy’s ability to receive treatment and adjourned the case pending further medical reports.

While he only stated there had been a change overnight in the boy’s “ability to be treated with such therapies at this present time”, relatives later said that Neon’s cancer, called medulloblastoma, had returned.

But Mrs Roberts, 37, confirmed that while scans conducted on Friday had uncovered “something”, doctors were unsure at this stage if it was cancer.

Mrs Roberts, who left her home in Devon and fled to Sussex to prevent Neon from receiving radiotherapy, said she would consent to radiotherapy treatment should it be found the cancer had returned.

But if it is a false alarm, she will instead take her son to Germany for pioneering treatment instead. “We went for a scan and they did see something,” said Mrs Roberts, a former leading disc jockey.

“They weren’t too sure what it was. Doctors are checking and we are hoping it’s scar tissue or something else.

“When I saw a headline … saying Neon’s cancer is back, it shocked me. That’s not true because we just don’t know.”

The mother of two said the scans had uncovered what appeared to be a one centimetre mass.

"He [the doctor] called again and I spoke to him. 'Something is showing up', they said. But they were very vague.

"They said, 'we can see something and we need to do another scan on Monday to determine what it is'. He was very hopeful everything is still going to be OK."

Neon is due in hospital this morning to have another MRI scan and a lumbar puncture to test his spinal fluid.

Should the cancer have returned, he is likely to have to have another operation before undergoing radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

Mrs Roberts, who provoked a nationwide hunt when she went missing last week, has insisted she is not a “bonkers mother” because she opposed her “vibrant” son receiving radiotherapy treatment for his tumour.

When she disappeared, she was in the middle of a court battle with the child’s father Ben Roberts, who agrees with doctors that their son’s chances of survival will be greatly increased with treatment.

Doctors have claimed that without any form of treatment, the little boy, who had his cancerous brain tumour removed in October, will die.

Mrs Roberts, who is originally from Auckland, New Zealand, added: “After Neon’s operation six weeks ago, when the tumour was taken out, they had another operation booked in immediately because they thought there was something else there.

“Thankfully they were wrong and I’m just hoping it’s the same this time.”

Mrs Roberts, who is also known a Sally Lees, told the judge on Friday that she feared radiotherapy would do long-term harm to Neon and accept only chemotherapy.

If doctors prove the cancer has returned, Mrs Roberts admitted she would back down and agree with doctors and her estranged husband, 34, in consenting to both forms of treatment.

“I don’t think I will have a choice,” she said. “I was so hopeful that we could just get on with other less harmful treatments. But I will be backed into a corner.”

Last week, the court heard how her legal battle was “principled, reasonable and in the best interests of Neon”. She took her drastic action after the procedure was described by one doctor as “frying his brains”.

Before Friday’s news that the cancer may had returned, the mother described how her son had become a “vibrant, healthy” little boy but that radiotherapy would threaten his IQ, increase the risk of strokes and infertility and potentially leave him “disabled”.

Mr Roberts, an IT consultant from Knightsbridge, west London, has also aired concerns about the treatment, telling the judge that he was "concerned" and "anxious" about the medical advice but agreed to follow it.

The judge, who was being asked to rule as a last resort on whether Neon should receive the life-saving treatment, described the case as the “stuff of every parent’s nightmare”.

The case returns to court on December 18.

Andrew Hough, Telegraph.co.uk

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