Christmas came early to the Stieler family in the form of a nine-page decision by a Marquette County court to drop a case surrounding the cancer treatment of 11-year-old Jacob.
"Definitely a big victory and a big relief for the holiday weekend," said Jacob's mother, Erin Stieler. "So we can go into this with a little less stress."
Suffice it to say 2011 has been a stressful year for the Stieler family. Jacob was diagnosed with Ewing Sarcoma and underwent a half dozen rounds of chemotherapy and radiation, until a PET scan indicated his body was free of the disease. However, his oncologists disagreed and ordered further rounds of conventional treatment.
The Stielers refused, and earlier this summer, the Michigan Department of Human Services leveled charges of child neglect against them.
"A good family, a competent family, should have the decision, should have the right to make medical decisions for their child, and the state should not usurp their fundamental right of a family," said the Stieler's attorney, Paul Marin.
Ultimately, the court agreed. Judge Thomas Solka ruled Jacob's parents have not been negligent in making decisions about his course of treatment.
The high profile case was over before it even began, but the Stielers say the support they've received will last forever. As the case deflates around them, the Stielers say they hope to move on and get back to focusing on the family.
"I just hope they will be able to just live their lives and deal with their family and take care of their son without having to worry about the state looking over their shoulders anymore," Marin added.
We have reached out to DHS and their attorney, Dianne Heitman; both have refused to comment.
Following the judge's decision, they can either request a rehearing or file an appeal, but that could take months, if not years.