The modest suburban house is cluttered with comfortable furniture. Dozens of family photographs hang on the walls. A little boy runs into the living room, pets the family dog and climbs into his mother's arms.
The 2-year-old child with tousled blond hair and large, piercing eyes looks like any normal little boy.
But Chad Green is different.
He has leukemia, and, despite his parent's wishes, Chad has been receiving court-ordered chemotherapy for the past few months.
And unlike other little boys, while he lies in his mother's arms his life lies in the hands of the courts.
Chad's fate is expected to be decided ultimately by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Yesterday, the highest court in Massachusetts took under advisement the case of Chad Green in the latest in a series of court battles pitting the child's parents against his doctors.
While the medical experts warn that traditional cancer-fighting drugs are the only means of saving the boy's life, his parents, born-again Baptists, have put their faith in a less orthodox method of healing - organic foods, Laetrile and the will of God.
The case could have a major legal impact, thesting the fundamental rights of privacy of parents' decisions on medical care for their children. It also challenges the rights and responsibilities of hospitals, physicians and the courts to intervene when they feel the parents' medical decisions are detrimental to the child.
Dr. John T. Truman, chief of the pediatric hamatology unit at Massachusetts General Hosptial and leader of the medical and legal fight he feels must be waged to save Chad's life, said the boy's cancer is highly treatable, with a good chance of prolonged remission and eventual cure.
"Untreated, he will be dead by Christmas. Let there be no mistake," the boy's doctor said after one ruling and the see-saw string of lower court decisions that has given the state control over the boy's medical care.
But Gerald Green, 27, Chad's father, is unconvinced by the admonitions of the cancer specialists who have testified for the hospital. "Doctors are only man who really knows what's going on, and that's the Man Upstairs."
And, regardless of the judgments of the state or U.S. Supreme Court, he said, "there's only one supreme ruler - God will make the decision about whether our little boy will live or die."
Chad's illness was discovered last Aug. 30 when the child - then 20 months old - awoke with a fever of 106, his parents recalled. He was taken to the family doctor in Hastings, Neb., where his father worked as a welder.
The boy was brought to the University of Nebraska Medical School, where the disease was confirmed. The parents consented to chemotherapy for Chad. But when specialists ordered radiation treatments, the Greens decided to seek alternative therapy. They packed their bags and movd to this small community on Boston's south shore, the home of Gerald Green's parents.
In early October, Chad began a three-year chemotherapy program at Massachusetts General Hospital under the guidance of Dr. Truman. Treatment began with spinal injections of a highly toxic drug called Methotrexate.
Although the child's disease was responding to treatment, his parents said, they became alarmed by a sudden and unpredictable change in his behavior."
He turned into a wild animal," Diana Green, his mother, said."You'd be holding him in your arms and suddenly he was kicking and screaming and clawing at your face." Chad began complainning of pain, and he bumped into walls.
At one point, she said, Chad was so tormented by what they believed to be a violent reaction to the powerful anticancer drugs that the boy cried out in his sleep, "Don't hurt me. I'm all alone.No, no."
The young parents began investigating nutritional cures, and on Nov. 10, without telling Chad's doctor, they stopped giving the boy his daily anticancer pill.
Instead, the Greens fed their only child fresh juice, goats' milk, vegetables and fruit. He was given no meat, no white bread, no sugar, no junk food.
Now they want to treat him with Laetrile, an extract of apricot pits that proponents claim is a miracle cancer cure, despite a declaration from the Food and Drug Administration that the substance is worthless.
This past winter, doctors discovered a renewed surge of cancer cells in the little boy, and they found that the conventional treatment had stopped. The hospital initiated renewed proceedings against the parents to begin the treatments again.
"We did it for Chad's sake," said Truman, who notes that the boy's disease is once again in remission. "We really want this boy to get his chance."
Diana Green, who ardently believes that the side effects of the anticancer drugs are more detrimental that the disease, said the issue is simply freedom of choice - that the parents have the constitutional right to decide on their child's medical treatment.
"The court didn't give us permission to have a child, so how can they tell us how to bring him up?" said Diana Green, who has received hundreds of letters from all over the country supporting her stand.
But hospital spokesman Martin Binder said, "I sympathize with their position. If we were dealing with an adult and he chose to die, that's his decision. But we're talking about a 2-year-old child who can't make his own choice.
"Our concern for Chad is just as real as the Greens'. What we really hope is that 20 years from now, Chad will be able to look back and say, 'What was all the fuss about?'"