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Nebraska custody efforts for teen with cancer dismissed

March 29, 2018

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Nebraska authorities have stopped efforts to take custody of a 15-year-old girl whose mother delayed pursuing the teen’s urgent cancer treatments.

A judge has dismissed a motion filed last week that requested Angelica Koenig be placed in temporary custody of the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services to receive the treatments, the Omaha World-Herald reported .

The dismissal Tuesday came because the physicians were “satisfied that the family is starting the appropriate treatments,” said Don Kleine, Douglas County attorney.

The patient’s mother, Stefanie Koenig, decided to forgo chemotherapy and radiation for her daughter for more than a month after the girl underwent two surgeries in February to remove a brain tumor, according to an affidavit from a physician at the Children’s Hospital and & Medical Center.

The affidavit said the likelihood of the teen surviving past one year with her type of brain tumor is less than 10 percent without radiation and chemo. The five-year survival rate with the treatments is between 50 and 70 percent, according to the affidavit.

Court documents show that Angelica Koenig’s neuro-oncology team of doctors and social workers repeatedly contacted and tried to schedule appointments to start treatment. Stefanie Koenig told a social worker who was sent to the family’s home that she “felt negative energy” and had a “gut feeling” to not pursue treatment. She said she wasn’t refusing treatment, but wanted to seek out a second opinion.

The family received a second opinion Monday at the Nebraska Medical Center and has changed oncologists, said Renee Mathias, attorney for Stefanie Koenig. Mathias declined to comment on Angelica’s specific treatment plan.

Kleine said such cases are difficult and rare.

“There’s always the line of whether the state should get involved,” he said.

Mathias said the family is relieved to have the case dismissed, “but they have a long road ahead of them.”

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Information from: Omaha World-Herald, http://www.omaha.com

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