Parents Lose Custody of Toddler for Switching to 'Natural' Treatment After 2 Rounds of 'Brutal' Chemo

Noah McAdams and his parents
ABC13

The parents of a toddler in Tampa, Florida, who's been bravely battling leukemia, are not happy after a local county court dismissed their request to treat their son's cancer with a more homeopathic approach involving CBD oil and dietary changes. Last week, a Hillsborough County judge made it clear to the parents of 3-year-old Noah McAdams that the primary form of treatment for their son's cancer should be chemotherapy -- and they've been ordered to get him started on it within the next 28 days.

  • Little Noah actually received two rounds of chemo treatments at John Hopkins All Children's Hospital, after which testing showed no signs of cancer, his parents say.

    BuzzFeed News reports that his parents, Joshua McAdams and Taylor Bland-Ball, were also giving Noah homeopathic treatments that included CBD oil, alkaline water, mushroom tea, and herbal extracts, in addition to dietary changes.

    The improvement in him, they say, was noticeable.

    And so, armed with the belief that Noah was on the mend and that an alternative treatment might work better for him, the parents say they set out in search of a second opinion. They hoped to find an alternative protocol instead of continuing more rounds of the "harsh" chemotherapy his doctors recommended.  

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  • However, what resulted is being called a "medical kidnapping" by some.

    According to WFLA, authorities were alerted when the parents failed to bring their son in to continue his treatments -- treatments his doctors say are medically necessary. 

    McAdams and Bland-Ball were later stopped in Kentucky after taking their son across state lines to see another doctor, and lost custody of Noah shortly after.

    “We’re not trying to refuse any kind of treatment,” Bland-Ball told reporters last week. “They think we’re refusing treatment all around, putting him in danger, trying to kill him. But not at all. We’re trying to save him.”

  • The couple then headed to court to fight for the right to seek alternative treatment for Noah, as well as regain custody.

    But last week, they left feeling disappointed when a judge not only ruled against them but also postponed their custody hearing.

    They've since been ordered to return Noah to chemotherapy treatment within the next 28 days. However, they were also told they can continue homeopathic remedies as well -- so long as chemo is the main part of Noah's treatment.

    "This is not about whether we're choosing alternative therapies -- natural therapies," Bland-Ball told ABC 13. "This is about ... our rights as parents to seek other options."

    As for her reaction to the court's ruling, Bland-Ball, who works as a holistic therapy assistant, told WFLA"I feel like it's definitely increased my fight, my strength, and ultimately, my forgiveness because having to look at these people who have no regards for my son is difficult."

  • The parents say they have their reasons for wanting to seek an alternative route of treatment.

    While on chemo, Bland-Ball said Noah had "vicious mood swings" that made him violent and emotional. "He also started to lose his hair right away after the first treatment," Bland-Ball told ABC 13.

    McAdams argued that after Noah ended chemo and continued receiving homeopathic remedies, he was "completely back to normal," which only added to their belief that a more natural treatment path was working.

    "We want him to be treated with something that has less side effects," Bland-Ball said. "Chemotherapy is so brutal on a body."

    In truth, it is. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), cancer cells grow fast, and chemo drugs, which are administered intravenously, attempt to kill the bad cells quickly. But as the drugs circulate throughout the body, they often kill off healthy cells too -- cells that help the heart, kidneys, lungs, and nervous system function (to name a few).

    "Doctors try to give chemo at levels high enough to treat cancer, while keeping side effects at a minimum," an article on the ACS site reassures. "They also try to avoid using multiple drugs that have similar side effects."

    Watching a 3-year-old endure the intense treatment has to be heartbreaking, especially when you consider that chemotherapy during childhood has been linked to other health problems in patients later on in life. Still, chemo has been credited for saving millions of lives since it was first introduced in the 1940s.

  • On Wednesday, after a judge declared the chemo treatment was mandatory, the toddler's parents were crestfallen.

    "It is a mixed bag, in that we obviously have to watch this child go through chemotherapy," their attorney, Michael Minardi, told ABC 4, "but at least we know with the use of cannabis and other treatments that the child will be able to deal with chemotherapy, rather than not being able to have those alternative treatments available."

    Most notably, cannabis has been found to help treat pain and nausea, common side effects during chemo treatments.

    The American Cancer Society, however, warns that "relying on marijuana alone as treatment while avoiding or delaying conventional medical care for cancer may have serious health consequences."

  • In addition, a doctor who spoke with ABC 13 strongly suggested that Noah's parents simply don't have all the facts to make their own medical calls.

    "We have no way of saying that he is cured of leukemia this early in therapy," said Dr. Bijal Shah, head of the Moffitt Cancer Center's Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia Program. "We cannot assume cure because we see remission." 

    When you consider the timeline of events, it is rather unlikely that Noah's cancer is completely gone. According to the Washington Post, he was diagnosed in early April and underwent just two weeks of chemo treatments.

    "We busted out of that hospital -- with no cancer cells left to spare,” an April 16 Facebook post by Bland-Ball read. "Doctors are amazed at his speedy healing and strength!"

    The post also gave further detail into the natural remedies she's been using with Noah, which include: rosemary, vitamin B complex, including B17, a completely alkaline diet, a liver/kidney/gallbladder/blood herbal extract, daily colloidal silver, high dosages of vitamin C, collagen, reishi mushroom tea, grapefruit peel and breast milk.

  • Now, the parents have shifted their focus to another pressing matter: getting their son back.

    Right now, Noah's being cared for by relatives, but his parents are fighting to regain custody. Until they do, they're working with the Department of Children and Families to be allowed unsupervised visits.

    Here's hoping little Noah gets the treatment he needs to be on his way to recovery and that he's reunited soon with his parents, who ultimately seem to want the best for him.