I was afraid the cancer treatment would fry his brain: Why mother fled hospital with her gravely ill son, 7
Mother says she ran away with seven-year-old as she fears radiotherapy will permanently harm his brain, affect his IQ and damage her only son's growthSally Roberts has been giving seriously ill son Neon natural medicineDoctors disagree with decision and have started legal proceedingsNeon was temporarily placed into foster care then given to his father
22:31 GMT, 6 December 2012
A mother who ran away with her seven-year-old son to prevent him having life-saving radiotherapy last night claimed that a doctor told her the treatment would ‘fry his brains’.
Sally Roberts, 37, has been giving her seriously ill son Neon alternative therapies as he recovers from surgery to remove a brain tumour.
But doctors disagree with her decision to use only natural medicine and have started legal proceedings, arguing that Neon’s chances of surviving will be ‘dramatically reduced’ if he does not undergo radiotherapy soon.
Fears: Sally Roberts, who ran away with her seven-year-old son to prevent him having life-saving radiotherapy, wants to rely on alternative therapies
Seriously ill: Neon Roberts, pictured, has been receiving alternative therapies as he recovers from surgery to remove a brain tumour
Police and social workers took Neon from his mother shortly after 1.30am yesterday in East Grinstead, West Sussex.
He was temporarily placed into foster care and then given to his father, Ben, who is separated from Neon’s mother and lives in London.
A High Court judge made the extremely rare ruling that Neon could be named in an attempt to find him after Mr Roberts, 34, became concerned at having not heard from his wife and son in four days.
But Mrs Roberts said she was out of contact because she was in Sussex taking Neon for treatment in an oxygen chamber and does not carry a mobile phone in case it affects his health.
Neon’s brain tumour was reportedly removed in full during surgery on October 25 – immediately after he was diagnosed with the aggressive medulloblastoma form of cancer.
Doctors then wanted to carry out the standard procedure of treating him with radiation to remove any further cancer cells and reduce the chances of the disease recurring.
However, Mrs Roberts, who lives near Tiverton, Devon, claims that when a doctor explained this at Frenchay Hospital in Bristol, he referred to the procedure as ‘frying his brains’.
‘I lost all confidence in him,’ she said. ‘It was frightening and very unprofessional. I thought, they have got the whole tumour out so why are they frying his brain
‘I fear they are going to fry my son’s brain when there are other ways we could proceed. I feel it is very unnecessary and I’m sure any mother who had researched like I have would feel the same.
‘This is my only son. He’s my world. I need to be able to tell him I did everything I could for him.’
Mrs Roberts, who is originally from New Zealand, added that she fears radiotherapy will permanently harm Neon’s brain, affecting his IQ and damaging his growth and future fertility. She wants to see if the tumour returns before resorting to radiation.
'I'm doing what any mother would do'
She said: ‘If I truly believed he had cancer now in his body I would agree to go ahead. But they are going after one cell that might be there. I am convinced it is not there because of the scans and because his spinal fluid is clear.
‘I don’t want to fry his brain and have his quality of life ruined just on the off chance there is a floating cell that is going to multiply.
A High Court judge made the extremely rare ruling that Neon could be named in an attempt to find him after Mr Roberts, 34, became concerned at having not heard from his wife and son in four days
Sally Roberts says that she fears radiotherapy will permanently harm Neon's brain, affecting his IQ
‘All I’m doing is protecting my child. I’m doing what any mother would do.’
Neon has undergone a range of alternative therapies since his operation, including hours in an oxygen tank.
Mrs Roberts will not allow mobile phones near Neon and his twin sister Electra in case they cause damage to the children’s health, and they are fed a diet of organic foods and juices.
She is well-known in music circles and has performed as DJ Sally at venues ranging from Glastonbury Festival to Boujis Nightclub in London.
Her parents, Don and Lilian Leese, who live in North Tawton, Devon, said they support their daughter’s decision.
Doctors disagree with Mrs Roberts' decision to use only natural medicine and have started legal proceedings
Mrs Leese, 72, added: ‘Sally is the most caring, wonderful mother. She is totally dedicated to her children. Everything she is doing is what she believes is in Neon’s best interests.
‘She wants to work with [the doctors] but the medical profession want to do it all their way. One of the doctors scared the living daylights out of her, referring to it as “frying his brains”. That is something you don’t say to a mother whose child has just been diagnosed with a brain tumour.’
Mr Roberts, an IT consultant who lives with his daughter in Knightsbridge, west London, described his estranged wife as a ‘concerned mother’, but added: ‘I want to make sure [Neon] has everything available to him. I understand there are lots of things that can be done to minimise the effects of radiotherapy.’
In the Family Division of the High Court this week, Mrs Justice Hogg ruled reporting restrictions could be relaxed to name Neon to improve the chances of finding him.
Lawyers from the NHS and Devon County Council, who are tasked with looking after the boy’s interests, are expected to resume the case into Neon’s treatment at the High Court today.
North Bristol NHS Trust, which includes Frenchay Hospital, declined to comment.