TAMPA — Almost four months after she and her boyfriend fled Florida so they could treat their young son’s leukemia with natural remedies, Taylor Bland-Ball said she’s changed her mind.
The couple now agrees that medical science is the best way to keep 4-year-old Noah McAdams’ cancer from returning.
“The bottom line is you’re in agreement with chemotherapy, but want to supplement with alternative care?” the couple’s attorney, Brooke Elvington, asked the mother in court on Tuesday.
“Yes,” the mother testified.
However, the mother is not sold on the last phase of chemotherapy: taking oral medication for about two years to keep Noah’s cancer in remission.
So went day two of the custody trial. Joshua McAdams and Taylor Bland-Ball are seeking to regain full custody of Noah since they were caught April 29 in a Kentucky motel room.
The couple skipped a chemotherapy treatment at Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg, which led local authorities to issue an alert, track them down and bring them back to Hillsborough County.
The state opposes returning full custody of Noah and control over all medical decisions to the parents, believing they still pose a risk to his well being. Noah should remain in the care of the state, the Florida Attorney General’s Office has argued.
In her second day on the stand, Taylor Bland-Ball told the judge how dissatisfied she was with Noah’s care at Johns Hopkins and the alternative treatments she was looking into.
After Noah was discharged from the hospital, the mother removed Noah’s peripherally inserted central catheter — or “PICC line” — which administered fluids and drugs, The state argued this risked leaving a piece of it inside the child. But Taylor Bland-Ball testified she had experience removing IVs as a doula and had measured the removed catheter to make sure it did not break.
The mother hoped to cure her child’s cancer using alternative treatments, such as thermal or hyperbaric oxygen therapy. When the couple were stopped they were on their way to Ohio to get a second opinion from Sherri Tenpenny, an osteopathic physician and anti-vaccination activist.
But now that she’s heard the opinions of other doctors, Taylor Bland-Ball said she now consents to chemotherapy treatment — save for the last phase.
She also testified that when the family took the child to Kentucky, she believed her son was in remission, that it was safe to take him on a road-trip. But they intended to return to Florida.
Their attorney also addressed past allegations that the boyfriend abused the mother in Hernando County, and that the parents neglected their child’s medical care before and after the cancer diagnosis earlier this year.
That doesn’t mean there will be future neglect, their lawyer said.
“If the standard is to protect Noah, then we have to analyze what the imminent prospective harm is and there is none,” Elvington said. “There is none.”
The parents are also not a flight risk, the attorney argued, because they do not have passports to leave the country and do not have the resources to move away from Florida.
The state and the child’s court-appointed attorney to submit their final arguments in writing. Then the judge has 30 days to rule. Noah is currently in the care of his maternal grandmother.