The parents of seven year-old Mykayla Comstock were devastated when their daughter was diagnosed with T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-cell ALL) in July 14, 2014. T-cell ALL is a very rare type of leukemia. As an aggressive form of cancer that typically haunts children, it is caused by the unrestrained reproduction of Lymphoblasts in the body from the bone marrow.
Once formed, this type of cancer cells simply refuse to die. With an apparent immunity from the natural programmed cell death, these cells conspire by forming together a liquid mucinous tumor that strains internal organs and ravage the child’s immune system.
The young Mykayla was given a Medical Prognosis of 76.9% 5-year survival rate. With a relatively good chance of defeating that monster T-cell ALL inside their daughter’s body, Erin Purchase, the divorced mother of Mykayla, scampered for modern protocols to cure her daughter.
Just ten days after Mykayla started to undergo regular chemotherapy, Erin brought Mykayla to The Hemp and Cannabis Foundation clinic in Southeast Portland. Her mother was concerned about the effects of chemotherapy to her daughter - pain, nausea and loss of appetite, among others. It was around this time when Mykayla aptly gave herself a new nick name ‘Brave’, for it would be the start of her long battle with the dreaded disease.
Mykayla takes two to three grams of cannabis oil per day either taken edibles or in capsules. Brandon Krenzler observed the immediate effects of medical cannabis to his step daughter. He was pleased to see Mykayla emerge from ‘her dark place’ with renewed sociability and a healthy appetite. Most of all, the cannabis treatment relieved Brave Mykayla from pain.
However, Jesse Comstock, Mykayla’s biological father, has reservations about his daughter’s medical marijuana treatment. During one visit, he noticed that Mykayla was withdrawn and spent most of her time with video games. Comstock was also worried about the possible Marijuana addiction Mykayla might developed because of the cannabis treatment. More so, the father fears that continued marijuana use at an early age might impeded the growth of Mykayla’s brain.
Mykayla's first doctor at Legacy Emmanuel's Randall Children's Hospital opposed medical marijuana treatment. It was this recommendation that prompted Erin to change their oncologist in the same hospital.
Other medical associations like Leaders of the American Academy of Pediatrics signed a resolution stating their opposition to medical marijuana use for children. Dr. Sharon Levy of the said academy stressed that ‘marijuana isn’t medicine’. Dr. Stephen Sallan of the Dana Faber Cancer Institute in Boston also believes that ‘pot does not cure childhood leukemia.
There are emerging studies showing cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive chemical in marijuana, can infuse itself to cancer cells and stop them from thriving. Other studies shows that THC leads to cell’s cessation, meaning that THC attacks the cancer cells thereby causing apoptosis and prevents them to mature.
Amid the ongoing public discussion about the Mykayla’s medical marijuana treatment, Erin has been determined to continue lead her daughter along the path of the pot. She attributes the remission of Mykayla’s cancer to cannabis. Mykayla’s last chemotherapy was on November 13, 2014. By now, her parents are slowly weaning her away from cannabis since her chemotherapy sessions are already over.
Mykayla is just one of 2,200+ cancer patients who were legally allowed to use medical marijuana in Oregon. Perhaps, for the parents of those cancer-stricken children, the decision to use medical marijuana for treatment is not so much based on the data found medical studies.
If medical marijuana could alleviate the pain of their child even for just an hour, why not?