In a recent article, we shared the story of Nicholas Gunderson. Nicholas, 13, is in the middle of a bitter custody battle between his mother and Child Protective Services in New York. Nicholas is battling an aggressive form of leukemia. Doctors and CPS argue Nicholas needs to complete several more rounds of chemotherapy to treat cancer. Candace Gundersen, his mother, wanted to use alternative health treatments to keep Nicholas in remission. CPS took custody of Nicholas late last week, and Candace is all over social media crying Medical Kidnapping. We poked holes in her claims yesterday. Today new details emerged furthering weakening her claims of kidnapping.
In June 2018, doctors diagnosed Nicholas with an acute form of leukemia. The type of leukemia, acute mixed phenotype acute leukemia, is aggressive and deadly. Effective treatment of MPAL requires two phases of treatment. Patients receive induction chemotherapy to rid the body of cancer cells.
After the patient’s body is cleared of cancer cells, patients begin post-remission treatment. MPAL post-remission treatment consists of chemotherapy, radiation, and stem-cell transplants.
Nicholas’ mother, Candace, says doctors misdiagnosed Nicholas with the wrong form of cancer. After they received the diagnosis, she immediately asked for a second opinion. Doctors from NYU Winthrop told her Nicholas did not receive an incorrect diagnosis.
Candace claims doctors threatened to call CPS if she did not consent to chemotherapy. In an interview with ABC7 NY, Candace says, “They told me if I didn’t consent to the treatment they would call CPS and have me removed, and my son would have the treatment anyway. So I signed the consent.”
Naturally, Nicholas got very ill from the chemotherapy. Candace didn’t like how sick Nicholas became and decided she wanted to pursue other alternatives for his next round of treatment.
Candace is a wellness and health coach. She says she wanted to explore natural methods to keep Nicholas in remission. She worked with “doctors” in Florida to develop a treatment plan for Nicholas.
Candace alleges on her GoFundMe page that CPS agreed to the treatment plan. However, Nicholas needed to return to NY Winthrop for scheduled chemotherapy on October 25th. When she did not bring Nicholas back to the hospital on the 25th, Candace says CPS changed their tune about the treatment plan.
In the same interview with ABC7, Candace said:
“They told me he needed to have chemotherapy and that I needed to provide documentation that he was getting chemotherapy and that if he’s not getting chemotherapy, it’s going to be a problem.”
The report went on to say:
CPS brought an emergency removal proceeding on October 19th to seize control of Nick. Dr. Mark Weinblatt of NYU Winthrop testified a week later before a Suffolk County family court judge that Nick was in imminent danger of death. On October 26, the judge granted custody of Nick to CPS and ordered him back to Suffolk County. Nick left Florida and was admitted on October 30 to NYU Winthrop.
J. Edmund Keating with NYU Winthrop Hospital said in a statement to Eyewitness News: “Our treatment of the child is based upon the highest standards of medical care and is a result of collaboration with the child’s legal guardian, who directed that the child come to NYU Winthrop Hospital.”
Nicholas is now in the hospital receiving his needed chemotherapy. Apparently, Nicholas is upset about being in the hospital. He believes that because he doesn’t have cancer, he doesn’t need more treatment. However, at age 13, Nicholas is unable to understand the severity of his diagnosis.
Doctors, in this case, executed an emergency court proceeding because they feared Nicholas would die without chemotherapy. Candace’s plans to treat the illness are not backed by science nor approved methods for killing cancer.
Candace fails to understand the severity of her son’s diagnosis. Instead of relying on proven methods and recommended standards of care, Candace wants to try a route supported by pseudoscience and holistic scammers.
CPS, in this case, stepped in because doctors know Nicholas will die without more chemotherapy. Nicholas is not a victim of medical kidnapping.
Candace uses the fact that CPS and the hospital cannot speak due to privacy acts protecting juvenile cases and patient’s medical records. When only half the story is published, anyone could easily believe her claims.
She is also using all of this attention to fuel a GoFundMe set up for Nicholas’ treatments. However, she admits in updates the money is being used for attorneys for the legal case with CPS. A case that would not be necessary if she complied with the doctor’s orders.
Candace also has not secured permanent housing for her and Nicholas. Despite a GoFundMe account swelling to $31,000. In her most recent update on GoFundMe, Candace said the following:
If you are CPS and doctors, would you release a child to a mother that wanted to treat with quack medicine? Would you also be ok releasing a child extremely sick with a deadly disease to a mother that has no permanent address?
Of course not!
There are reasons that the state stepped in to protect Nicholas. Candace is not the victim here. She is a predator crying foul and garnering attention for her cause. Thankfully for Nicholas, the state recognizes the danger he is in and will keep him safe.
Candace may love her son. However, Nicholas’ best shot at beating cancer is in the care of CPS and doctors at NYU Winthrop.
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