HARTFORD -- It was a long-awaited homecoming for Cassandra C., the Windsor Locks teen who made national headlines for refusing chemotherapy. She was released from the hospital on Monday afternoon.
Cassandra, 17, finished her last round of chemotherapy at Connecticut Children's Medical Center recently. She had been at the hospital for the past several months to combat Hodgkin's Lymphoma.
“As we do for every patient we care for at Connecticut Children’s, we wish her the best for a happy and healthy future,” said Robert Fraleigh, director of corporate communications for CCMC.
When she was diagnosed with the disease, Cassandra originally refused chemotherapy and that did not sit well with the state.
The Department of Children and Families stepped in and took custody of her and forced her to undergo treatment while hospitalized. That began in the fall and since then Cassandra has changed her mind about chemotherapy; however, her fight with DCF continued.
"I feel like they took it a little too far. A lot of things that were done were unnecessary," said Cassandra of the decision to take her out of her mother's custody and limit their visits.
"She's everything I have and 5 months felt like forever," Cassandra said, speaking publicly for the first time.
She had asked to finish her treatments at home but a judge ordered her to stay at the hospital until she was done with her last dose of chemo.
The 17-year-old screamed "I'm so happy" as she pulled into her driveway on Monday. Her house was decked out with homecoming decorations and friends awaited her arrival.
"She's almost like a sister. Yea, she's that close," said Malik Johnson, Cassandra's longtime friend. "Without her, it wasn't the same, so I'm glad she's home."
The teen is officially in remission and said she was pleased to share her side of the story.
"It's been really difficult not being able to speak for myself. I mean, everyone's seen my mom and DCF's side to this, but I'm really happy that I can finally speak," she said.
The family wouldn't comment on a possible lawsuit against DCF, but did say a book could someday be in the works.
Cassandra said she looked forward to a home-cooked meal and a night in her own bed on Monday. She shares other future plans in the story below.