7-Year-Old’s Controversial Treatment and Her Divided Parents (With Video)
Mykayla Comstock’s family says marijuana helps her fight an especially aggressive form of leukemia, keeps infection at bay, and lifts her weary spirit.
Twice a day she swallows a potent capsule form of the drug. When she can’t sleep or eat, she snacks on a cookie or brownie baked with marijuana-laced ‘budder.’
The 7-year-old girl suffering from leukemia has become one of Oregon’s youngest medical marijuana patients. She is one of 2,201 cancer patients authorized by the state of Oregon to use medical marijuana, and 51 children served by the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program provided there is a qualifying medical condition, parental consent and a doctor’s approval.
Mykayla’s mother credits the drug with helping put the cancer into remission.
But her father, worried about the effects of the drug on her brain development, alerted child welfare officials to the treatment.
Mykayla, a sweet and shy girl with a splash of red freckles across her nose and cheeks, started showing cancer symptoms last spring. She was feverish, had a hacking cough, and suffered through night sweats. A rash had spread on her leg.
Her mother, Erin Purchase, 25, and also a medical marijuana patient, worried that her daughter had Lyme disease or pneumonia. A Pendleton doctor suspected strep throat and put her on antibiotics.
But Mykayla’s health worsened. Purchase took her to a pediatrician who found a mass in the girl’s chest. The following day she was diagnosed with T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Leukemia is the most common of childhood cancers, striking an estimated 3,800 American children each year. Mykayla has T-cell leukemia, a particularly aggressive form of the disease that affects 10 to 15 percent of patients.
Marijuana eases the effects of chemotherapy, according to her mother. The girl takes a gram of cannabis oil daily, she told the The Oregonian. She administers Mykayla’s cannabis with the help of her boyfriend, Brandon Krenzler.
“First you get hungry,” Mykayla herself told the paper. ”Then you get really funny, and then you get tired.”
Mykayla’s mother credits the drug for the leukemia’s remission.
“As a mother, I am going to try anything before she can potentially fall on the other side,” she said.
Jesse Comstock, Mykayla’s father, is divorced from the girl’s mother and lives in North Dakota. He contacted child welfare officials, police, and her oncologist when he found out, saying his concerns were prompted by a visit with Mykayla in August.
Comstock pays child support to Purchase and covers Mykayla’s health insurance, the Oregonian reported.
Oregon law requires no monitoring of a child’s medical marijuana use by a pediatrician. While adults consuming medical marijuana is gaining nationwide acceptance, Mykayla’s story underscores a larger, more complex issue that arise when states empower parents to administer the controversial drug to children.
Little is known about how the marijuana interacts with the developing body, leading pediatricians say. A recent international study found sustained cannabis use among teens can cause long-term damage to intellect, memory and attention.
Comstock, 26, who says he used pot in the past, told the paper that he doesn’t object to people over 16 using medical marijuana. But he worries about his daughter’s well-being and the potential for addiction.
“She’s not terminally ill,” Mr. Comstock said. “She is going to get over this, and with all this pot, they are going to hinder her brain growth,” he said
Ms. Purchase feels otherwise. She believes marijuana heals. She also credits the drug for curing her stepfather’s skin cancer.
“She’s like she was before,” she said of Mykayla. ”She’s a normal kid– walking a line between life and death.”
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Much more of this story can be read in the full article of The Oregonian here.
Mykayla’s mother maintains a Facebook page dedicated to her daughter’s health and use of medical marijuana.
The above video clip is courtesy of Beth Nakamura of The Oregonian and OregonLive.com.