A woman from Devon who ran away with her seven-year-old son to stop him having cancer treatment said she had “no choice” because she felt she was on a “conveyor belt”.
Sally Roberts, 37, disappeared with son Neon after a dispute with her estranged husband Ben over the boy’s condition and treatment – despite doctors saying their son could die within months without radiotherapy.
Ms Roberts told ITV’s Daybreak yesterday that she does not necessarily want him treated in an “alternative way” but wants options other than radiotherapy explored and evidence that it works – amid her fears of its potentially damaging affect on Neon.
She agreed that going on the run with her son was an “act of desperation”. She said: “I was on a conveyor belt and I had no choice. They said treatment must start.
“I thought if I was going to take him to the hospital they would never let us go home.”
New Zealander Ms Roberts, who was living in Tiverton, Devon, went missing with Neon last week.
But both she and her son were found safe after a judge ordered a nationwide search. Ms Roberts, who now has a home in Brighton, East Sussex, later apologised for vanishing and said that she had panicked.
She told Daybreak that she was not adamantly opposed to giving her son radiotherapy treatment. She said: “I have been asking the whole time, ‘Please show me evidence that he does need this treatment’.
“The only thing they can come up with is a study from the 1940s. It’s just radiotherapy, this is how we do it, chemotherapy – they haven’t been exploring other options.”
Ms Roberts said she had been contacted by medical professionals supporting her belief that there are other options to treat her son.
Speaking about why she was so against Neon receiving radiotherapy, she said: “Because it damages your DNA. I feel we can still save his life. I’m incredibly confident. That’s exactly why I don’t just want to race into radiotherapy.”
She said her son has no idea about the furore surrounding his treatment, saying he just does not want to go back to hospital.
Neon’s father, who lives in London and is separated from Ms Roberts, was “open” to her approach to dealing with his condition, she said.
“The whole time he has been saying that if you can come up with other medics and doctors who are backing you and agreeing, then of course. He just wants the best for Neon,” she added. Asked how she would feel if by denying him treatment, Neon died, Ms Roberts said: “How do I live with myself if I allow him to have radiotherapy and I have to then watch him suffer the consequences of that treatment?”
She went on: “I feel that with the integrated approach, he’s going to be alive anyway, otherwise I would absolutely go for treatment. But I do feel we need to explore other options because it’s really evil, this protocol that the doctors are following.”
She also told the programme that Neon was doing “very well” and that she was unsure whether the brain tumour had come back or whether he had some inflamed tissue.
The case was brought before the High Court in London where a judge was due to decide whether the child should be put through radiotherapy.
But Mr Justice Bodey told a hearing in the Family Division that he would not deliver a ruling because of “developments” in Neon’s condition.
A further court hearing is scheduled for December 18.