There should be more than one day dedicated to mothers. As we get ready to celebrate moms everywhere on Mother's Day, we can pause to appreciate all the things moms do for us. Even before we're conceived, our moms are hard at work nesting and trying to get pregnant, which is a task by itself.
Then there's nine months of mental, physical, spiritual and emotional challenges that take everything your mom has got. And just when she's been pushed to the limit, that's when your mom goes gets to endure the hardest thing she'll do—birth you into the world.
Imagine all the things we love about our moms and all they've done to bring us into the world. Then imagine the universe is out of sync for a moment, and that little bundle of joy mom has worked so hard to create is born with an imperfection. Maybe it's something brain that causes seizures. Maybe it's something in the nervous system that develops into a debilitating disease.
Imagine being a parent who watches helplessly as your infant suffers from a hundred seizures a day. Doctors do what doctors are trained to do—administer pharmaceuticals. The child not only doesn't get better, but they get worse from all the harsh side effects.
Now imagine there's a simple solution for those parents. There's a plant that could save the child's life. It's easy and cheap to grow, and it's available just about everywhere. All someone has to do is extract oil from the plant and give it directly to the child.
There is such a plant. The answer for desperate parents is right there so close they can reach out to touch it. But the plant is illegal, and helpless parents can't get that life saving medicine for their child. A hundred seizures a day continue. Every. Single. Day. For years…
We found moms who were pushed way beyond what any mom should be asked to do. Unconditional love doesn't begin to describe how deep these amazing women had to dig in order to save their children's lives. On this mother's day we shine a light on amazing women who never quit on their children, no matter how steep the odds were.
Susan and Cyndimae
Cyndimae Meehan lit up the internet earlier this year. She was the girl with the big smile who suffered from seizures all her life. Her mom, Susan shared a YouTube video showing how medical cannabis stopped Cyndimae's seizures caused by a terrible disease known as Dravet Syndrome. This rare disorder causes children to start having 80-1000 seizures a day for most of their life. As if that wasn't cruel enough, the disease is known to be merciless with children when they reach adolescence. For whatever reason, Dravet Syndrome can take the lives of children when they reach pre-teen years.
In Susan Meehan's case, she worked tirelessly day and night for years to help her smiling daughter. In 2013, Susan and Cyndimae moved away from their Connecticut home (including Cyndimae's father and sisters) to access medical cannabis in Maine. This, after the Meehans had actually found a supplier of cannabis oil in Connecticut, but halfway through the supply of medicine law enforcement found the grower and destroyed the remaining plants and any hope of treating Cyndimae in the comfort of her own home.
Susan cared for her daughter around the clock for two years while advocating for medical cannabis. In March of this year, after 13 years of tireless work to fight for Cyndimae, she died from complications related to Dravet Syndrome. For the last two years of her life she didn't get to see her family.
Susan Meehan is a mom on a mission. She continues to fight for other parents to have better access to the medical miracle that the cannabis plant provides. On Mother's Day, we celebrate Susan Meehan for showing a spirit and unconditional love that had no end.
Paige and her daughter Charlottephoto: youtube
If there's one story that has galvanized the effort to legalize medical cannabis, it might be the story about Paige Figi's daughter, Charlotte. She's the inspiration behind Charlotte's Web, the cannabis oil that has been shown to eliminate nearly all seizures in children.
The Figi's were living in Connecticut looking for a way to treat Charlotte's seizures. "She was having a massive seizure every 30 minutes," said Paige in an interview with the Hartford Courant newspaper. "She was in hospice."
Paige looked to Colorado where cannabis had just been legalized. She found a producer who was willing to develop a cannabis oil extract that would change her daughter's life. When Dr. Sanjay Gupta told the Figi's story in his CNN documentary, "Weed" the nation took notice.
Paige Figi almost single handedly started a medical marijuana revolution. Since 2014 more families have moved to Colorado in search of Charlotte's Web or cannabis oils with similar healing properties.
Alana and Chris Carroll
The Carroll family of Burlington, MA have four children. One of them, an 8-year old boy named Caiden was diagnosed with a rare neurological disorder called Angelman Syndrome. It's a debilitating neurological condition where the child experiences developmental delays, a lack of speech, seizures and balance issues.
Caiden began having grand mal seizures at 2 1/2 years old. He was prescribed all the usual anti-seizure pharmaceuticals, and many of them made him worse. Caiden had been in and out of hospitals for years. In 2015, Caiden's condition got worse. He lost the ability to walk altogether for five months and was confined to a wheelchair. Doctors thought he was losing weight due to gastrointestinal disorders and acid reflux. So in addition to anti-seizure meds they added in a buffet of GI medications. The doctors were running out of options.
Caiden and his siblingsphoto: chicagonow
Luckily for the Carroll's, there was a medical marijuana study happening at a nearby hospital where Caiden was being treated. Unlucky for the Carroll's, the study was closed. Alana Carroll refused to give up. She researched and discovered Charlotte's Web cannabis oil, and ordered it online.
They were running out of options and Caiden was wasting away drugged up on a list of pharmaceuticals. When Alana Carroll received her shipment of Charlotte's Web cannabis oil, she gave it to her son right away. That was October 3rd, 2015. To date, Caiden has not had another seizure. He's walking, talking and living his life like nothing happened.
Sarah and Remie Ellettphoto: rareanddiagnosed
Born and raised just south of Salt Lake City in conservative Utah County, Sarah Ellett was brought up in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In 2012, she gave birth to a daughter named Remie. Doctors didn't expect little Remie to live, but they underestimated the determination of Sarah.
Remie was born with numerous dangerous and damaging conditions. She spent most of her first two years of life in the hospital, including the first five months in neonatal intensive care. "Every other week she would have some sort of episode and go into adrenal crisis. We would just end up in the hospital for months," Ellet said in an interview.
Daycare wasn't an option. Sarah Ellett quit her day job to care for her daughter full time, including feeding her daughter through a feeding tube and giving around-the-clock care.
After doing some research online, Ellett found cannabis oil to be an option for her daughter, however, using it would go against everything she was brought up to believe. Out of desperation, Ellett took her daughter to Oregon in 2015 to register with the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program. After administering cannabis oil to her daughter, Remie immediately started showing signs of progress. She began reaching milestones no one thought she would reach.
Upon moving back to Utah, Ellett stopped giving Remie cannabis oil because she didn't want to break the law in Utah and risk her daughter's life in protective custody. Having her daughter taken away for administering cannabis is a real threat Ellett is faced with.
Despite overwhelming public support, Utah's senate failed to legalize medical marijuana. State Senator Mark Madsen proposed S.B.259 in 2015 that failed by one flipped vote. If Utah fails to legalize some form of medical cannabis, the Ellett's will be forced to move to Oregon to continue treating their daughter.
photo: CBS news
When her teenage son Trey was struck in the head with a baseball, Angela Brown couldn't imagine he would develop multiple medical issues including seizures, muscle spasms and severe headaches. Trey even suffered a stroke and was in a coma.
After the Brown's exhausted every course of treatment they could find for Trey, they found cannabis oil as a possible option.
The Brown family said that Trey's condition greatly improved shortly after using cannabis oil. An investigation was prompted when Trey's school discovered, after staff noted that his academic performance had improved, that he had been taking the oil. Angela was later charged with two counts of child endangerment and was faced with the possibility of serving two years in prison.
During the legal ordeal, Trey has not access to cannabis oil and Angela Brown said that Trey's seizures returned, causing him to be sent to the emergency room twice. The family is currently struggling with about $8,000 in medical bills incurred while Trey has not been allowed to use the oil.
Marijuana use for some medical purposes will be legal in Minnesota on July 1st, 2015. The Brown family has decided to move to Colorado, where the blend of cannabis oil that effectively treated Trey's symptoms was obtained. Cannabis oil is also reportedly cheaper and more easily accessible in Colorado. The family has started a GoFundMe fundraiser to help cover medical bills and moving expenses.
"We were ready for a dog fight," Hughes said in regards to the trial. "I am very emotional about this case on several levels and have been preparing for this battle since taking the case. At the end of the day all the charges originally brought against my client will be dismissed. I see this as a victory and a positive outcome. Still, what this family has endured is just another sad example of how cannabis prohibition negatively impacts our society."
Shona is currently locked in a battle with the state of Kansas over a decision to treat her Crohn's Disease with cannabis. The state wants to take away Banda's son and is threatening to put her in prison after her 10-year son spoke out in class about the benefits of medical marijuana explaining how it had helped his mom.
Police showed up at her house and discovered the medical marijuana during a search. Banda wasn't charged with a crime, but her son was taken away and put in protective state custody. Her son was questioned by police without knowledge or consent by either parent which led to a warrant being issued to remove both child and medicine from the house.
Banda's friend started a Change.org page to help raise money for her legal fight. Banda lives in extreme pain from the gastrointestinal inflammation caused by Crohn's disease. Medical cannabis has been shown to significantly reduce, and in some cases completely eliminate the pain caused by Crohn's.
As of now, Shona Banda has not been charged with a crime, but her son remains in state custody.
At one point Joey Perez was on 13 different types of pharmaceuticals for his autism. Luckily, his mom Meiko Perez sits on the Board of Directors for NORML Women's Alliance. When gripped with the reality of treating Joey's sometimes violent behavior and self-harm, Meiko turned to medical marijuana. According to Joey's psychiatrist, "He was clearly starving, he had droopy eyes, he had very poor eye-contact. After he began the medical marijuana he was very bright-eyed, smiling and laughing. He was just a totally different boy."
Meiko didn't think cannabis would cure her child of his autism, but she thought it could improve his day to day functionality. "I saved my son's life, and marijuana saved my son's life. When a mother hears that their son is knocking on death's door, you will do anything to save your child's life. The research that we need for this medical marijuana needs to be done and it needs to be done now."
Angie and Amelia Weaverphoto: wdio
When her daughter Amelia was around 18 months old, Angie Weaver started noticing something was off. Amelia could say her ABC's and count to 20, but then she started having seizures and lost her ability to do many things, including walk or eat with a utensil.
Before and after cannabis oil
At first, doctors told Angie it was a fever. But the seizures got worse and Amelia started having more seizures. Doctor's would discover Amelia had Dravet Syndrome like Cyndimae Meehan. Angie Weaver was not about to let her daughter suffer without a fight. Angie found cannabis oil through news articles and stories she saw on T.V. Through online communities of parents who have children with a similar disorder, Angie turned to medical marijuana. The only problem is it was illegal in their home state of Minnesota.
Amelia's story, along with the effort of state Rep. Carly Melin led to legislation that sought to legalize medical marijuana throughout the state of Minnesota. Efforts to legalize medical cannabis have been vehemently opposed by the law enforcement coalition who refuses to support any sort of legalization citing it would open the door to widespread abuse.
The Weavers considered moving to Colorado after seeing the story about Charlotte Figi. But they don't want to move from their home state and have decided to stay and fight to legalize medical cannabis so their daughter, and other children suffering from seizures can have a normal life.
The list of mothers who turn to medical marijuana to save their child's life keeps growing by the day. There are so many more moms who are fighting the battle every day to not only improve their child's life, but are also on the front lines fighting their state legislators for better access to the live saving oil from a plant.
This Mother's Day, we thank the moms who are moving the needle and showing the world medical marijuana saves lives.