On September 30th of 2012, Colorado mother Sierra Riddle had her world turned upside down when doctors diagnosed her 3-year-old son, Landon, with T Cell Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia.
Within a month, Landon was introduced to an aggressive steroid and chemotherapy regiment that immediately went to work fighting his Leukemia, but left the brave young warrior suffering from the crippling side effects that come with such cancer treatments.
Still living in Utah, and undergoing chemotherapy and radiation therapy there, the toddler battled with bouts of intense pain, vomiting up to a dozen times each day, nerve damage in his legs, and a 25-day stretch where he was physically unable to eat.
Landon’s mother, a firsthand witness to her son’s chemo-fueled pain, nausea, and neuropathy, began investigating alternative treatment methods. When her research led her to the healing power of cannabis, she packed up her belongings, and she and Landon moved to Colorado Springs, in hopes of gaining safer access to medical marijuana.
In January of this year, with the help and guidance of some heroic Colorado growers and caregivers, Sierra Riddle began to treat her son’s cancer with edible capsules filled with a highly concentrated ratio of Cannabidiol (CBD), and Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
Results from the limited studies happening in the U.S. have shown that the plant’s THC, the psychoactive component most often associated with “getting high”, actually provides significant pain relief, and many cancer patients benefit greatly from its ability to combat the nausea that comes with chemotherapy. The non-psychoactive component, the CBDs, act as all-natural pain killers as well, but research has shown that CBDs quite literally stop many forms of cancers from metastasizing.
Within a month of beginning his new cannabis-infused diet, Landon showed incredible signs of improvement, seeming to justify the move to Colorado and the controversial treatment method. Soon, Landon had ceased all chemotherapy treatment in a decision that brought a lot of criticism, and attention, to his mother.
Undeterred, Sierra Riddle stands by her decision, recently stating, “Landon has had weekly blood work, spinal taps to check for cancer, and bone marrow aspirates as well… I have all of these results. Since May, he has had monthly blood checks, still no cancer present.”
Landon’s story was highlighted on CNN by their Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Dr. Gupta’s documentary, WEED, which aired earlier this year on the cable network, has been instrumental in normalizing the idea that marijuana does, in fact, have medicinal benefits.
Dr. Gupta has since apologized to the world for being so wrong about cannabis, and offered tentative optimism for Landon’s mother’s claims, saying, “Of course many cancer therapies do make it to this step; and some say it’s too early to get excited. Landon has been off chemotherapy for three weeks…and whether or not the cannabis has actually played a role, his mother says his leukemia is currently in remission.”
It’s true. Today Riddle says that Landon is cancer-free, re-growing his hair, and that marijuana helped to make her son “a million times better”.
If only the end of the story could be so happy.
Two weeks ago, Sierra Riddle began receiving visits from a case worker from Colorado’s Human Services Department, based on threats made to her by her son’s now ex-oncologist that he would report her for neglect if she ceased the harmful, and costly, chemo and radiation treatments for Landon.
“A report had been made that Landon was being refused treatment for his leukemia and that I had been a no-call no-show for 10 appointments,” Riddle told reporters. She denies the missed appointment accusations, and as for “refusing treatment”, Landon’s positive tests, and spirits, seem to contradict those claims.
Sierra and her representatives met again with Child Protective Services on October 2nd, seeking to squash the doctors’ attempts to force Landon back onto a $10,000 per month chemo plan. According to an update posted on a Change.org petition page set up in support of Landon’s cause, the meeting bagged mix results, with CPS staff offering limited support and the powers that be at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Colorado insisting that the Riddle’s either recommence the chemotherapy and radiation on Landon, or defend their decision in court.
“I just want to say, no matter what I am not going to give him chemo, but I’m not going to risk losing him either,” Sierra Riddle told CBS4 in Colorado, “I’m not going to push it that far.”
Unfortunately, it seems that CPS and the doctors hearing the Riddle’s appeal are willing to push it that far. In an update posted over the weekend to the “Offer Hope for Landon” Facebook page, a Riddle family spokesperson calling herself “Grammy Wendy” painfully conceded that without a board certified oncologist to take the stand on Landon’s behalf, a court battle would be futile. And so, on Monday, Landon was forced back onto the devastating chemo regimen.
“Chemo starts on Monday,” writes Grammy Wendy, “To say that we are devastated is putting it lightly. To put a child through more chemo who is in remission is insane. It is child abuse. We just cannot believe it. We are all stunned. However, we have no choice. We just pray that the cannabis will protect him from further damage and side effects.”
To learn more about Landon’s cause, and to offer support, click here.
Tell us in the comments below what you think of Landon being forced back on chemo.