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Dahlia’s journey started in May 2013 when at the age of 2 she was diagnosed with Anaplastic Astrocytoma, a severe and progressive type of brain cancer. Since then she has endured four brain surgeries including the placement of two different types of cranial shunts in order to drain excess fluid from her brain caused by hydrocephalus. Dahlia has suffered apnea spells due to the extra fluid and has twice stopped breathing, requiring emergency resuscitation efforts at St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. Dahlia has also developed seizures as a result of two additional surgeries performed in order to biopsy and resect (remove) parts of her brain tumor. Sadly, the tentacle-like extensions of this type of brain tumor make it impossible to remove or resect any more without causing brain damage or even death. Dahlia will need additional close monitoring for the rest of her life.
The only hope traditional medicine can offer Dahlia is chemotherapy. Because anaplastic astrocytoma is so rare, Dahlia was accepted into the chemotherapy program at St. Jude’s in Tennessee and finished her sixth round of chemo last month. She has now been released to in-home care with oral chemo treatment, but Dahlia’s journey won’t end there. Dahlia and her mother Mo are more determined than ever to beat back the cancer that threatens Dahlia’s life, so they are leaving everything familiar behind and taking on a journey to Colorado.
Scores of parents are finding hope for their children in cannabis and just like Dahlia’s family, they are moving across the country to Colorado to obtain it. What they seek in Colorado is medicine in the form of cannabis oil extractions. The CBD and THC present in the concentrated extraction is increasingly being used to kill cancer cells and malignant tumors. Cannabinoid therapy has shown so much promise that GW Pharmaceuticals has secured a patent for use of CBD and THC to treat just the type of malignant brain tumor Dahlia suffers from.
But Dahlia, like so many children with devastating illnesses, cannot waste another minute waiting for Big Pharma to figure out how to use cannabis as medicine or for antiquated laws to change. Mo has decided to immediately treat Dahlia’s inoperable brain tumor with cannabis oil as it has shown promise in treating both brain tumors and seizures.
With few options left, the family that’s originally from Florida is heading West. Getting Dahlia to Colorado means leaving the hospital in Tennessee with nothing but the clothes on their backs, leaving their home and life in Florida behind. For the immediate time, Mo’s mother will be accompanying Mo and her children to Colorado for support.
Relocating will be a struggle as Mo is a single mother of two who left the workforce months ago to care for Dahlia. Mo is hoping family members will be able to stay with her on a rotating basis, but otherwise she will be there alone. Taking care of a child with Dahlia’s needs is a full-time job in and of itself, which will likely prevent Mo from being able to work outside the home until Dahlia’s health has stabilized.
Because Dahlia is immune-compromised, special accommodations at home will need to be made including maintaining a sanitary environment. Dahlia will also need to see two separate doctors in order to become a medical marijuana program patient in the state of Colorado and she will need weekly laboratory blood draws to monitor her health. Those findings will be sent back for follow up at St. Jude’s.
Dahlia’s journey and story is just one of many. Parents and children are arriving in Colorado in droves seeking cannabis oil treatment for conditions ranging from epilepsy to childhood cancer. Research groups, laboratories and medical study programs are slowly becoming involved in cannabis oil treatment cases, but it is still not covered by insurance and can be costly. Monetary and emotional support from the cannabis community is essential to the success of these children’s journeys.
Children whose futures were uncertain, whose prognoses were bleak, are now exceeding expectations and out-living the death sentences imposed upon them by cancer and epilepsy. Many of these medical refugees and their families are finding miracles on their journey to wellness.
So continues Dahlia’s Journey.
You can donate to help with Dahlia’s expenses at dahliastrong.org.