When Lily Stephan was born, she was perfect. She was healthy and bright-eyed.
But, when she was just seven weeks-old, her father accidentally dropped her. She was rushed to the hospital, put into a medically induced coma, and her parents waited to see what the lasting effects would be.
After countless hours waiting for their beautiful baby girl to wake up, Lily finally came out of her coma. Because of the trauma, she began having seven to eight seizures a day. She was diagnosed with epilepsy and told that her life would never be the same.
“They told us that she would never be able to talk or function on her own,” says Lily’s mom, Cassandra Stephan. “It was just something you never want to hear as a mother.”
Her neurologist began giving her several treatments, but nothing seemed to help. Just before her neurologist was going to start a whole new treatment plan, Stephan had another idea.
“I had heard so much about medical marijuana,” says Stephan. “People were saying what a miracle drug it could be for kids with seizures. So before we did another harsh treatment plan I wanted to see if it could help my baby.”
She began to give Lily Real Scientific Hemp Oil, or RSHO. RSHO is a type of low-THC cannabidiol, or CBD, which works by targeting the endocannabinoid system in the human body. CBD oil has several health benefits– one of which is treating seizures and tumors, according to Dr. Stuart Titus, an expert in medical marijuana research for HempMed.Within two days, Lily was seizure free.
Lily began her treatment with RSHO in February 2016. She has now been seizure free for nearly seven months.
“It really was a miracle for us,” says Stephan. “I want to tell everyone that this gave me my baby back.”
Now, at 3-years-old, Lily can do all of the things that her doctors said she would never get to do. Not only can she feed herself and interact fully with her parents and roll by herself, but she also qualifies for PreK, which she will start next year.
The benefits of CBD oil and hemp products outweigh the risks, according to Titus. “Currently, no other medicine exists to effectively cure any neurodegenerative disease, according to the Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases,” he says. “There is tremendous research going on throughout the world on the science of the cannabinoids. We believe there are potential applications for neurology including Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. In Spain CBD has been researched to assist with depression. It is also used in Israel for bone healing. CBD seems to assist the body’s natural processes via the endogenous cannabinoid system. So people can take this to achieve improved health and wellness; we do hope to eventually have a recommended daily intake established.”
Lily’s neurologist was excited about the progress that Lily has been making since they began treatment.
“He was just so happy to see how far she has come,” says Stephan. “She has reached so many milestones that we never thought we would get to see.”
Unfortunately, RSHO is not legal in every state, so when Stephan told her daughter’s caregiver about the RSHO, Child Protective Services became involved. Stephan discovered that in her state of Maryland, she was going to have to fight for her daughter’s right to medication just like thousands of other families (including families in Florida), who are caught between desperately wanting to help their children and losing their children.
“When the social worker called Lily’s doctor, he let them know that he fully supported her treatment with RSHO,” says Stephan. “That helped us put an end to CPS investigating us, but I know a lot of other families are facing the same thing.”
Seven states will be voting on legalizing medical cannabis in November, which will not only allow more treatment in those states but will create the ability for more research on cannabis in each state. In Florida, Amendment 2 will be on the ballot, which will allow the medical use of marijuana for individuals with debilitating medical conditions as determined by a licensed Florida physician, allow caregivers to assist patients’ medical use of marijuana, and states that the Department of Health shall register and regulate centers that produce and distribute marijuana for medical purposes and shall issue identification cards to patients and caregivers. Amendment 2 will need a 60 percent majority vote in order to pass, and comes after the 2014 defeat of a similar amendment which was lost by only 2 percent.
“Don’t be scared of the things this plant can do,” says Stephan. “When it comes to helping your child, anything is worth a try and this works. Your child doesn’t have to be in pain and they don’t have to suffer.”
To learn more about cannabis and CBD, click here.