While it’s quickly becoming more common, the drug is still illegal in many parts of the world. That’s why a woman from Taiwan decided to bring her son to Oregon this spring, in hopes cannabis oil can save his life.
“We have to try again, the cannabis oil. Even if it’s hard and expensive for us. We have to go,” Cindy said.
Cindy’s 6-year-old son Kevin has a brain tumor and is epileptic as a result. Cindy said doctors in Taiwan recommended a standard procedure; surgery to remove the tumor and chemotherapy to help him cope with it.
Cindy said she watched her friends go through those treatments with their children.
“I can see they feel so terrible after the surgery, I don’t like that,” Cindy said. “Some people get disabled after the surgery. I really don’t want to see my kids get that surgery.”
That’s when Cindy decided she wanted to try a more natural path for Kevin’s condition. She read up on the benefits of cannabis oil and talked with others who had success with using marijuana for similar conditions. So Cindy saved enough money to stay in California for three months in the summer of 2018, where Kevin could be treated at a clinic.
“It worked. We get back to Taiwan and the MRI shows the tumor just stopped growing,” Cindy said.
But three months wasn’t enough time. Cindy said she knew she had to come back, so she joined a Facebook group for people who had success with cannabis products. That’s where she got connected to Jessamyn Way from Merlin, Oregon.
Last year, NBC5 news told the story of Jessamyn’s road to recovery when she was planning to sue then-U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions for his plan to crack down on marijuana. Jessamyn also suffers from a brain tumor and severe epilepsy and credits a daily dose of cannabis oil to her survival.
“My story shows that mothers and babies can heal from this. Then maybe other people will start to say, ‘Yeah, this really does work,’ and we don’t necessarily have to do all the chemo and pharmaceuticals,” Jessamyn said.
After connecting with Cindy on Facebook, Jessamyn said she couldn’t help but extend an invitation for Cindy and Kevin to move into her home.
“We just live in a small house and whatnot. But, when it’s another mom that’s having to deal with a sick child, I understand that.” Jessamyn said. “I can’t say no because I know what it’s like to be trapped in that hole thinking, you know, ‘what am I going to do?’
Cindy and Kevin will be living with Jessamyn for three months in Merlin, where Kevin will follow Jessamyn’s diet and cannabis oil regimen.
Jessamyn also helped the family work out the legal kinks and help them start the process of getting Kevin a medical marijuana card with help from the Empower Clinic in Grants Pass.
Heather Chapman with Empower Clinic said the doctor on sight reviewed Kevin’s file and determined that he was eligible for medical marijuana treatment. Heather said the Empower Clinic has assisted people from all over the West Coast, but Kevin marks a first for the Oregon-based company.
“This one is a little different, it is a patient coming from out of the country. So we’re very excited to be able to help that patient and get the care that is needed,” Heather said.
All three women are working together in hopes that Kevin will successfully recover, but Jessamyn is also hoping his story will add to a growing message for medical cannabis users.
“I just hope that we can make it go legal everywhere. Because that way mothers don’t have to come from all the way across the ocean to be able to treat their children,” Jessamyn said.
Cindy is also hoping the story will help to bring legalization to Taiwan, but she said, for now, her sole focus is saving her son.
If you would like to help Cindy and Kevin’s travel for treatment, you can send donations through PayPal to [email protected]
*NBC5 notes that The Centers for Disease Control still cites a lot of uncertainty when it comes to using cannabis oil for serious medical conditions. While the CDC says cannabis oil can help prevent and ease nausea caused by chemotherapy, their website suggests more research is needed as to whether cannabis-based products are a better option for brain tumors than surgery or chemo.
NBC5 News anchor and reporter Kristina Zagame is from Boston, Massachusetts. She comes to us from KQTV in St. Joseph, Missouri where she was the evening anchor and executive producer.
Kristina received her degree in Broadcast Journalism from the University of South Carolina. She spent a summer interning for an international online magazine in Santiago, Chile. She also covered Hurricane Maria relief efforts in the Virgin Islands.
When she’s not in the newsroom, Kristina loves exploring, dancing and live music.