Developing

Cancer Boy's Mum In Last Plea Before Ruling

A woman who wants to stop doctors giving radiotherapy treatment to her seven-year-old son following surgery on a brain tumour is acting merely out of love, a High Court judge has heard.

Mr Justice Bodey is set to rule later today.

Sally Roberts, 37, says she fears radiotherapy will cause her son, Neon, long-term harm and is locked in a court battle for alternative treatment.

Doctors have said Neon could die within months if he does not get the radiotherapy.

"Her stance merely reflects the love that she has for him," Ian Peddie QC, for Ms Roberts, told the judge in a last-ditch plea.

"The mother, having considered the pros and cons of radiotherapy, does not believe it is in his best interests because of the significant and long-term consequences of this dramatic, powerful brain-altering treatment."

The judge has been hearing arguments about the pros and cons of radiotherapy.

Ms Roberts, a New Zealander who lives in Brighton, East Sussex, has previously told the proceedings she is not a "bonkers mother".

She fears radiotherapy will reduce Neon's IQ, shorten his life, put him at risk of having strokes and make him infertile.

Ms Roberts said she would agree to Neon having chemotherapy because any damage caused could be "overcome".

Mr Peddie has told the court recently: "We assert that there are doctors who can offer credible alternative treatment to the therapy that is proposed."

The boy's father Ben, who is separated from Ms Roberts, has agreed to the radiotherapy but is said to be "apprehensive".

The barrister representing the hospital argues any alternatives will not be as good as the "gold standard" recommended.

A specialist treating Neon has described Ms Roberts' comments as "sensible" and accepted that there could be side-effects to radiotherapy.

But he said without radiotherapy the youngster could die within a few months.

Victoria Butler-Cole, who is representing doctors involved in Neon's care, said Ms Roberts was proposing "experimental therapies", which are "unproven", as alternatives to radiotherapy.

The judge said he would have to balance risk against benefit in deciding whether to allow doctors to use radiotherapy treatment.

"It is a balance between the disadvantages of radiotherapy and the improved prospects of living," he told lawyers.

"You can only suffer these detriments to your life if you are alive."

The judge said Neon's case was urgent, the hospital where he was being cared for was regarded as a "centre of excellence" and any alternative treatment would need to be available soon.

He added: "Someone has to be found pronto who is able to say 'I am qualified and able to care for this boy.'"

Ms Roberts had asked the judge to adjourn the hearing until early in January to allow her more time to investigate alternatives to radiotherapy.

But he refused her application and said a decision on radiotherapy had to be made.

On Tuesday, it was ruled that Neon would have further surgery to remove a "residual tumour" against Ms Roberts' wishes.

Ms Roberts wanted the operation delayed until more doctors had been consulted.

But specialists treating Neon said follow-up surgery needed to be carried out urgently and Mr Justice Bodey said the operation should go ahead.

Neon had the seven-hour procedure on Wednesday and the court was told it had gone well.