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Tests show no cancer, dad says

Daren Jensen speaks to the media in front of his Sandy home with wife Barbara and son Parker at his side. The family said new medical tests conducted in Boise recently show that 12-year-old Parker does not have cancer.
Daren Jensen speaks to the media in front of his Sandy home with wife Barbara and son Parker at his side. The family said new medical tests conducted in Boise recently show that 12-year-old Parker does not have cancer.
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret Morning News

SANDY — Parker Jensen and his family announced Thursday that new medical tests show the 12-year-old boy does not have cancer.

Parker announced the results of tests conducted at a Boise hospital while standing in front of a bank of microphones, TV cameras, reporters, family members and friends gathered on the front lawn of his family's house.

"The results are that they didn't find any cancer at all," said Parker, who then raised his voice to add, "and the state of Utah needs to leave us alone."

The family's announcement, however, did little to end the months-long saga that has pitted the Jensens against state officials.

The latter offered a caveat to the Jensens' announcement.

"We don't have all the test results yet, and we don't have the doctor's recommendation," DCFS spokeswoman Carol Sisco said Thursday.

Martin Johnston, the oncologist who tested Parker at St. Luke's Mountain States Tumor Institute in Boise, contacted DCFS director Richard Anderson Thursday because he had more test results that he still needed to share with the family.

Sisco said the information was "important" but did not know any specifics.

Parker's father, Daren Jensen, told ABC4 news Thursday night that the doctor had contacted his family and informed them that he would be recommending chemotherapy for Parker. The doctor also said he was stepping down from the case "because he's tired of being the Gestapo for the state of Utah," Jensen told the station. Sisco said she could not confirm the doctor had recommended Parker receive chemotherapy or resigned from the case.

Johnston did not return calls Thursday.

Daren Jensen emerged from his house less than one hour following his family's press conference to show reporters what he said were the results of three new tests from Johnston — a bone scan and blood test, an MRI and a CT scan — in which doctors found no signs of cancer in Parker.

"I have all the tests here," he said. "He (Johnston) gave us the tests on Monday. He said they were all clear."

Jensen said he had not spoken with the doctor on Thursday about further test results, which state officials said the family had not yet received.

Jensen said he assumed the state was referring to an earlier tissue sample taken from Parker. The family said they do not trust Johnston because "he lied to us so many times."

"We would like to get (Parker) properly evaluated so we could know (if there is anything wrong with him), but every evaluation has been biased," Barbara Jensen said.

"These are all the tests we're going to be doing," Daren Jensen said. "If he (Johnston) is a man of integrity, he will go by what the tests say."

Parker's father said he would "use everything I have to fight (state officials) to protect my family."

Mollie MacDonald, the guardian ad litem attorney assigned to the Jensen case, declined to comment Thursday. She said she anticipates that the Guardian Ad Litem's Office will release a statement today.

The Jensens battled Utah officials throughout the summer over Parker's custody.

In May, doctors at Primary Children's Medical Center diagnosed Parker with a rare form of bone cancer and recommended chemotherapy treatments. Daren and Barbara Jensen objected to the treatments in part because of the potentially harmful side effects and because no subsequent tests or scans showed cancer in their son's body. Those objections triggered a referral to the Division of Child and Family Services for medical neglect.

On Aug. 8, after multiple juvenile court hearings and two medical opinions that concurred with Primary Children's doctors, a judge ordered Parker into state custody to begin court-ordered chemotherapy treatments. But the Jensens were en route to a Houston cancer clinic for an evaluation of Parker's health and did not comply.

Barbara and Parker Jensen then went on the lam from authorities, prompting Salt Lake County prosecutors to file felony kidnapping charges and misdemeanor custodial interference charges against Daren and Barbara Jensen. Daren Jensen was arrested on the charges in Pocatello on Aug. 16. The Jensens have been arraigned, and a status conference is scheduled for Oct. 2. The Jensens' attorney is reportedly talking to prosecutors about a plea agreement.

Calls to the Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office late Thursday were not returned.

Parker's homecoming and announcement made for a carnival-like atmosphere in front of the Jensens' house Thursday afternoon. One group of children held up a sign that read, "Welcome home, Parker."

Some 20 minutes after the press conference, Parker joined the throng of kids outside in an impromptu game of front-yard football. As kids dodged TV cameras and one another, neighbors mulled about, offering their continued support for the Jensens.

Neighbor Jacki Parrish said state officials were "messing with the wrong people."

"The Jensens are very smart, they're very resourceful, they're very educated. They are not an average family."

Gov. Mike Leavitt, in his monthly KUED press conference, said the state needed to be careful about prosecuting Daren and Barbara Jensen.

"This is a circumstance where the state needs to be very cautious before it would exercise any kind of intervention that would interrupt caring, loving parents making the best decision they could in a complicated and unclear situation," he said.


Contributing: Jennifer Dobner, James Thalman, Amy Joi Bryson.

E-MAIL: djensen@desnews.com; jdougherty@desnews.com