What makes this native so compelling is the completely impossible cancer presented here. Surgery is no option and Chemo promised nothing at all. Yet the Cannabis oil halted the progress and reversed it. Likely because the care was prematurely ended, it came back but then retreated once again. This is reassuring.
Meet the Teen Who Beat Terminal Brain Cancer with Cannabis
Alysa Erwin is now cancer-free, and her family believes cannabis oil saved her life.
By Randy Robinson / Culture Magazine
April 9, 2014, 2:03 PM GMT
The following article first appeared in Culture Magazine:
At 14 years old, Alysa Erwin was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. As it would with any family, the news hit hard. "When the doctor called me to tell me Alysa had cancer, she said there wasn't a good outcome. There was no success rate whatsoever," said Carly, Alysa's mother.
"She told me all we could do was have hope."
But that was in 2011.
In 2014, Alysa is cancer-free, and her family believes cannabis oil saved her life. At the time, the Erwins’ outlook appeared grim. Doctors call her condition Grade III anaplastic astrocytoma, an inoperable cancer with a near-zero survival rate. Alysa's disease, caused by uncontrolled neuron growth, had spider-webbed throughout her brain. There were no individual tumors to target. A wiry network of cancerous cells penetrated so far into her skull that surgery was impossible. That meant Alysa would have to undergo aggressive chemo—and radiation therapies, a choice which leaves many terminal patients incapacitated during their final days. In Alysa's case, even with traditional medical treatment, doctors expected she'd survive for only another one or two years. The situation became desperate, and the Erwins sought out another choice.
Alysa's father David, heard about Rick Simpson's Phoenix Tears Foundation through Michigan Compassion, a medical cannabis organization. After watching the documentaries What If Cannabis Cured Cancer? and Run from the Cure, the Erwins decided cannabis oil was their best bet for Alysa's recovery.
"We knew what we wanted," Carly said, "but we wanted to hear her choice."
Alysa, presented with the options of chemotherapy or cannabinoids, tried the conventional route first. After just five days of popping Temedor pills—and enduring the debilitating nausea that comes with them—she abandoned chemo and went with cannabis. The Erwins were floored. They saw instant results.
Thirty minutes after she took her first half-teaspoon mix of concentrate and peanut butter, Alysa was laughing again. She was eating. Her pain vanished and she could hold down food. "She was like a regular teenager," her mother said.
As Alysa's tolerance built up, her mother increased the dose. During the first year, it was 1.5 milliliters a day. Afterward, it went up to 3 milliliters a day. For the longest time, the Erwins kept the treatment a secret from their doctor. They worried about legal repercussions stemming from the cannabis oil, as well as losing their medical care. Their doctor initially believed Alysa was still continuing chemotherapy, but the ruse didn't last long.But cannabis oil is potent, even for experienced patients. At first, Alysa struggled with the oil's somnolent properties. She spent the early days of treatment sleeping, waking up only to eat. The Erwins waited anxiously for four months while their daughter adjusted to the cannabis oil.
After the first three months of oil dosing, MRI scans showed the cancer stopped growing. After six months, the Erwins' doctor told them, "I can't believe she's walking." By this point, Alysa's tumors were shrinking. Follow-up exams confirmed the cancer's recession, but the results of Alysa's blood work didn't match the profile of a chemo patient. That's when the doctor became suspicious, and the Erwins finally confessed about the cannabis oil. Since cannabis is not officially recognized as a cancer treatment in the U.S., the doctor cautioned them about its use, but she never dissuaded the family from their course.
"Whatever you're doing, keep doing it," the doctor told them.
As with any unconventional therapy, controversy abounds. Some people are wary of giving kids cannabis as a medicine. Uncertainties about the cannabinoids' effects on the developing brain, as well as prohibitionist fears of "kids getting high," keeps the debate raging. In terms of the oil's intoxicating side effects, Alysa would like to dispel any ideas that she is just in it for the “high.” She says she doesn't enjoy the oil's bitter, waxy flavor. She's not entirely a fan of the medicine's psychoactivity, either.
"I don't really like taking my oil and just the experience with it because of being sick. It really ruined the taste for me," she said.
Alysa's mother dealt with criticism from other parents. "A lot of people ask me, 'How can you give your child marijuana? How can you let her get high like that?' But look at all those pills the hospital gives you. Those make you high, and they can shut down your kidneys." David also explained Alysa's tolerance keeps his daughter relatively straight. "If you ever met her, you'd see she doesn't look high. She doesn't act high." And through it all, Alysa, like most American teens, passed her driver's license test with flying colors. She even got a Chevy Blazer as a gift from her parents.
It's been a long, tough trek for the Erwins. Cannabis oil doesn't come cheap, but they received assistance from activist Gersh Avery, who showed them how to make their own oil. Donations from the community helped, too. As others provided charity to the family, stigma still stung the Erwins, particularly Alysa herself.
The worst she experienced wasn't the community’s reaction to her controversial cannabis therapy, but her terminal diagnosis. Alysa says she lost most of her friends after they discovered she was sick. Her "death sentence" became a source of constant teasing. School mates turned on her. "They were telling me I was going to die soon, so my opinion didn't matter," she recalled. Even her best friend fell off during the ordeal. "She said it was too hard to have a friend at 17 with cancer."
The bullying got so bad the Erwins pulled their daughter out of school. The new arrangement worked out, since her mother could take care of her as she healed. Currently, Alysa's wrapping up a high school diploma through online classes. Although Alysa was devastated by her former peers, one loyal friend did stick around. As a sign of solidarity for Alysa's fight against cancer, he and her older brother got tattoos together: Awareness ribbons with her name written along the bands.
In January 2013, a little over a year after the Erwins embarked on their journey, Alysa's MRIs came back with astonishing results. "Her scans were totally clear," her father said. "No tumors. No cancer. Nothing."
Alysa has spent the last year spreading awareness about cannabis oil as a cancer treatment. She's spoken at a number of conferences, and her story continues to inspire others to consider cannabis as a viable cancer treatment.
Today, she's looking forward to a new, healthy life as a college freshman. A compassion club set up a college fund for her, granting her an opportunity to study whatever she wants, wherever she wants.
"If I went with the conventional treatment, I don't think I'd even be here," Alysa said. "My medicine cured me and enabled me to be alive. To live with little side effect."
A massive shift in awareness has come about in the US over the last decade. In many areas, the American public is beginning to not only see things in a different and more lucid light, but beginning to question that which has gone mostly unchecked for decades: the mainstream narrative.
When it comes to cannabis, despite the obvious mainstream anti-cannabis agenda, this nation has made its intentions known. Yet congress and the majority of government officials continue to drag their feet and give the topic the eternal political run-around in day-to-day politics; especially when it comes to action and the acknowledgment of what the American majority actually wants. This lack of action in regards to cannabis speaks louder than any words and is happening for the typical political motivation: money. The case of Alysa Erwin has become a beacon of hope and signal of change for those who are told their only option is to suffer the horrendous and terrifying effects of chemotherapy and its dismal success rate of about 3%.
When Alysa Erwin was 14 years old, she started noticing an odd sensation in her neck. She began experiencing debilitating headaches, blurred vision, nausea, major body pain, changes in personality and mood, and just felt sick and overall abnormal. During the many visits with their local doctor, the office refused to give her any scans and continually labeled her a hypochondriac, both behind her back and to her face.
After months of this unhelpful and patronizing administrative incompetence, Alysa’s mother, filled with frustration, took her back to the local hospital demanding some sort of brain scan. It was only then that a CAT scan was given. After seeing the build-up of fluid in her brain, she was next given an MRI. This was when it became apparent that her discomfort was not just a figment of her imagination, but that she was suffering from a serious ailment. Then, following an onslaught of tests, in the Spring of 2011, she was diagnosed with Grade 3 anaplastic astrocytoma — brain cancer — at the University of Michigan hospital.
Due to the state in which her cancer was in at the time, the doctor was unable to administer any certain types of radiation. Yet, Alysa had made it clear that she did not want liquid chemo either way, so she was prescribed chemotherapy in pill form. Her parents were told she might live 18 to 24 months with chemotherapy treatments, but after only five days of its use, Alysa was overwhelmed by the sickening side effects and decided to discontinue the therapy. It was then that Alysa’s grandparents gave the Erwin family a desperately needed peek through the Orwellian shroud the American government maintains on the topic of cannabis; specifically its miraculous medical value.
Alyssa’s grandparents introduced her to Rick Simpson Hemp Oil, and the Phoenix Tears Foundation, and after watching the video What if Cannabis Cured Cancer it was then that her regiment of cannabis oil began.
According to the Phoenix Tears website, it is important for a cancer survivor to stay on what’s called a “maintenance dose” (Rick Simpson uses it himself to remain cancer-free after fighting off his skin cancer) to ensure the cancer does not return; as any cancer survivor will tell you, it all to often does, especially with the use of radiation chemotherapy.
“Once you have brain cancer like that, you always have to be on the oil,” says Alysa’s mother, Carly Erwin. “What’s the maintenance dose? We don’t know. Wish we had doctors on board because they’re so many questions. It’s awful.”Due to the continuing Federal Government restrictions on cannabis and its research, despite the overwhelming evidence to support its medical efficacy, Alysa’s doctor would not discuss the cannabis oil treatment with the Erwins other than to say, “keep doing what you’re doing.” In the fall of 2013 the Erwins lost access to a continuous supply of cannabis oil. Their access to the life saving substance began to dangerously fluctuate. When they were able to acquire the much-needed oil, the quality wildly varied, so they weren’t sure how much to use. Maintaining a continuous supply can be quite dangerous because the user is technically operating on the fringe of the law, as well as it being very expensive. The Michigan Medical Marihuana Act doesn’t allow possession of more than two ounces at a time for patients, so they are required to continually and frequently go out in search of something that could land them in jail, even though it will most likely save their lives.
In January of 2014, an MRI still showed no cancer. Yet in April, the test was done with a different kind of machine, which showed a small spot on Alysa’s brain. At that time the doctors were unsure if the spot was simply due to the differing technology used. The family then left the hospital with the explicit understanding that the doctor would look into the abnormality and get back to her, which never happened.
“I thought no news is good news,” Alysa’s mother told us.In the months that followed, Alysa began to lose weight and get sick once again. On July 21, she weighed 88 pounds. They immediately made an appointment with the doctor for the 24th, and after traveling all the way to Ann Arbor, they were told that her cancer had returned. The doctors gave her the same prognosis she received the last time: that the best they could do was extend the time she had left, but that her cancer was terminal and there was nothing else that could be done.
Of course the Erwin family was already well aware of the inaccuracy and fallacious nature of that statement and have since cured her cancer with cannabis oil for the second time. The reality is that these doctors are choosing not to advise the one thing that could actually save her life, for fear of some shadowed entity that will swoop down to relieve them of their medical license. At what point did the medical field become more about what the establishment wants and less about what the doctor believes can actually help a patient?
It was this very lack of concern for the actual patient (as opposed to their big pharma corporate sponsors) that forced Alysa to go without her maintenance dose of cannabis oil in the first place, which would have almost certainly kept her cancer at bay. If it wasn’t for the restrictive laws in place in Michigan and the nation as a whole, millions of dying Americans might have been given a second chance at life. These archaic Federal laws continue to keep this life-saving plant out of the hands of the millions who are told every day that no options are left to the them; or worse, that chemo is their only choice, when in fact, it is their only hope.