Parents Let Son’s Cancer Go Untreated Until It Killed Him


thermometerThere's a funny thing about being a parent. You know when your kids are just a little sick and when they're OMG, get them to the pediatrician sick. If you know your kid, you learn to read their cues.

But the parents of an 8-year-old little boy named William Robinson Jr.  want the world to believe they didn't know their son was dying from cancer. Willie, as he was known, died from a treatable form of Hodgkin's lymphoma because his parents didn't take him to the doctor. And to add to the horrors, Monica Hussing and William Robinson Sr. could end up spending just two years in prison for failing their son.

If that's justice for a child's needless pain and suffering, I'm not sure I can continue to have much faith in our system. The Ohio couple pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter, claiming they didn't know it was cancer racking their son's body, so they were treating him -- for months -- with cold medicine. I only wish I could believe them.

But I don't know a parent out there who doesn't know when their child is sick. My mom always said my eyes would lighten from their blueberry blue to a cornflower when I was feeling under the weather. My friend's son becomes more clingy. And like a bad poker player, my daughter has a host of tells.

Just before Christmas, my kid came down with a bug. She was insisting that she didn't want to go to school. So I decided to test her to make sure she wasn't faking. "If you stay home, you cannot watch cartoons," I warned. "You have to stay in bed all day." When she agreed, readily, without so much as a fight, I knew it was for real. Twenty minutes later, she was throwing up. I'd called it right.

Of course cancer isn't comparable to a stomach bug. I don't expect a mom to diagnose Hodgkin's from the color of her kid's eyes or his refusal to eat. But a few days of swollen glands and no response to cough medicine, and you know your child is more than a little sick. That's when good parents march them to the doctor and get them treatment (which is what child services did with little Willie, but it was too late). But it doesn't seem like Hussing and Robinson did much in the name of good parenting.

How can you tell your kids are really sick, not just faking it?


Image via Andres Rueda/Flickr

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Melis... Melissa042807

My mom followed the 3 day rule: If it held on for 3 days, it was time to go to the doctor. Saved us money (we didn't have insurance) and got us treatment when we really needed it, not for every random little bug we caught. 

So sad about this little boy. :-(

Elise48 Elise48

This is a sad sad story. The linked article says they had financial troubles and I can't help but wonder what would have happened had they taken him to a checkup and he was diagnosed. If they didn't have insurance and didn't meet the requirements for medicaid cancer treatments could have been prohibitively expensive and the boy might have died anyway. I know when being with many doctors here your method of payment is one of the first things asked and if you have no insurance and can't work out an arrangement they'll do the bare minimum to treat you before letting you go. Not that that in any way lets them off the hook (f they were even, in fact, negligent as opposed to ignorant), but I'm just curious how things would have played out - sadly there's no way to ever know.

Flake987 Flake987

My 2-year old has been coughing for four months, since he started daycare.. I have been to the doctor at least 6 times. I had an x-ray done. So far - nothing, just him soughing every night and day. All the doctors have said is that this is a phase that he will grow out of. I so hope they are right. My point is, I know my kid is sick, I ask for help, but apparently, so far, modern medicine doesn't have anything to offer.

sammy... sammyk1976

I think its disgusting they are being charged with anything, given all of the circumstances involved.  I "let" my child with cancer die in 2002 when she was 4 years old because the treatments were horrifying and she had no quality of life at all, and never would have.   These parents made a choice based on the circumstances they were in.  Do you have any idea how much cancer treatments cost?  The fact that they had no health insurance they certainly wouldn't have been able to afford the MILLIONs of dollars they would have accumulated in medical bills (yes, millions... my daughters total care over just 3 months was over 500K dollars)... Charging them with manslaughter is just adding insult to the already unbearable agony of losing a child through no fault of your own.  

chell... chellyelizabeth

Here's a link to the symptoms of Hodgkin's, sounds a lot like the flu.

While they should have taken the kid to the Dr. at some point, obviously, if you don't have insurance you don't want to pay for a Dr. to tell you "It's a virus" and send you home. My son has had some of these symptoms for months, probably just one virus after another, and he didn't have cancer. As for "tells" that your kid is sick, every kid is different and even when my son has the flu and has a fever and is throwing up he still acts completely normal. He went to school with a fever and they (and I) only found out because he mentioned to his teacher he had a headache, which the teacher thought was weird for a little kid so she sent him to the nurse. He came home and got grounded for running around the living room and jumping on the couch. It's sad, but isn't the parents losing their child punishment enough?

mrssu... mrssundin

The parents shouldnt be charged at all, If they dont have the means to pay for the care or take him in or really did think it was a cold which really could be the case here they didnt do any thing wrong.  My kids have a runny nose most of the year or cough from something doesnt mean i should just run in an get half ass care from a doctor cause we dont have insurance and get stuck with a huge bill.  I think losing their kid is punishment enough.  And if they didnt qaulify for insurance through the state but couldnt pay for their own for their kid he would have died from no treatment any ways.  At least he wasnt slowly suffering from the chemo and crap.

Gilsp... Gilspudmama

Wow! I am such a paranoid new mom, he's two now but still. He was sick the first two months out of the belly. Dr.s kept saying bad virus. He also had a heart murmur...not fun! I was also a sick kid and so yes I was more freaked than I should have been that he would be sick too. But still why would you treat with cold medicine for MONTHS???? you're only supposed to take that stuff for like 14 days right? Gawd dumb people piss me off.


Kersten Kersten

Flake987, I kindof am in the same situation with my child.  He has had a very low grade fever for months now that won't go away.  Doc keeps checking him but says it's just teething.  I wonder what this little boy's symptoms were.

nonmember avatar GGB

In Sept we buried our 13yro cousin due to cancer. For 1 entire year this child was sick. It started with a cyst on his body. Dr said it's nothing to worry about, the mother insisted something was wrong. Again 3 months later and a different Dr and also said oh it's nothing. One night after 5 months of Dr, ER visits still got a nothing, SOMETHING happened when she went to a different hospital and saw a different Dr for him. The child had stage 3 cancer. The next 9 months he was slowly dying a very painful death. He died 14 months after the very 1st Dr visit. Those 5 months that "nothing" was wrong the mother was giving him tylenol, or advil cause of the pain. So these parents may actually not have known.

This child also had a curable cancer if caught by stage 2. But died cause it was detected too late.

bjenn... bjennifer

Mine are too little yet to know about faking something, four and two , so I have not yet experienced it , but I can definately tell when they are sick , by their behavior usually  they tend to just lazy around without much of their usual energy, that's how I know .

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