Men’s Health Week kicks off on Monday, with the goal…Read more »
To celebrate Father’s Day this year, we are giving a shout out to the many heroes among us – the dads who have fought for the lives of their children – or those who have fought for the right to treat themselves or their loved ones, with controversial, but successful medical cannabis treatments. After all, it was a father who inspired the founding of United Patients Group.
Nearly six years ago, UPG co-founder Corinne Malanca’s father, Stan Rutner, was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer that had metastasized to his brain. He was given just weeks to live. The family took him home and made him as comfortable as possible. In the wasting stage of this disease, Stan carted around an oxygen tank 24/7. Corinne and family felt that they had very few options left for Stan’s health.
Then, John Malanca, Corinne’s then-fiancé and founder of United Patients Group, suggested medical marijuana as a potential treatment. Knowing very little about cannabis, and having scant sources of legitimate information at the time, John and Corinne buried themselves in research. Their first attempt with cannabis treatment was organic coconut oil capsules infused with cannabis.
The results were nearly instantaneous. Stan’s appetite returned and he started “eating like a teenager,” as John phrases it. Then the oxygen tanks became redundant and several months later – long after Stan was expected to live – he was thriving. More research went into cannabis treatments. Dosages were determined to not only help his appetite, but now to attempt to treat and fight the cancer, and a high THC oil was added to the regimen. Nine months later, he was well enough to walk his daughter down the aisle. Today? Stan has had several lung and brain scans and remains cancer free at 82 years young.
Stan was the inspiration behind United Patients Group. Today, John and Corinne Malanca devote their lives to providing the most up-to-date, scientifically accurate medical marijuana information, and educating patients and medical professionals alike. Ironically, during the time of Stan’s health struggle, UPG stepped in to help another father in distress, this time over the life of his young son.
At only twenty months old, Cash Hyde was diagnosed with stage IV brain cancer and a 4.5 centimeter brain tumor. Cash, also affectionately nicknamed “Cashy”, was immediately subjected to surgery, chemotherapy, and stem cell rescue – a procedure rarely used on children.
Throughout the resulting illness, medication, nausea, and pain, Cash was wasting away. He had no appetite and he was constantly sick. At this point it was also becoming likely that Cash would die of a drug overdose or organ failure due to the treatments. Mike Hyde, Cash’s father, knew there had to be another way. He turned to medical cannabis and began secretly dosing his son with cannabis oil through his feeding tube, making Cash the first and youngest ‘legal’ medical cannabis patient in the United States (a pioneer for children battling illness today), and the first pediatric cancer patient to receive full cranial and spinal radiation without the use of any conventional nausea and pain medications – only 0.3 ml of cannabis oil given around the clock.
Just like Stan, the result with Cash was immediate. He regained his appetite and even his desire to play. His cancer began to go into remission.
Then, to the devastation of the Hyde family, the federal government began to severely crack down on medical cannabis dispensaries in Montana and the Hyde’s were suddenly unable to access the cannabis oil they had been using (successfully) to treat and heal their son. They eventually received donations of cannabis oil after United Patients Group learned of their plight and put the word out that this family needed help. But it was too late. Cashy’s cancer had become too advanced to overcome – this time. Cash Hyde passed away in 2012, two years after his diagnosis. After the loss of his son, in the midst of unspeakable grief, Mike Hyde took the pain and despair that would normally plunge anyone into a deep depression, and began a crusade bent on educating and advocating for others like his little boy. The family established the Cash Hyde Foundation. A non-profit who’s mission statement reads: “…to raise pediatric cancer and medical cannabis awareness and to fight cancer with smiles.”
This coming Tuesday, June 21st would have been Cashy’s 8th birthday. Happy Birthday Cashy, we love and miss you!
In Pennsylvania, another father continues to advocate and fight for the life of his son, Waldo. Waldo, at only six months old, was diagnosed with an extremely rare form of aggressive eye cancer called bilateral retinoblastoma. Just like Cash, Waldo was immediately subjected to chemotherapy and a mountain of medication that made him appear even sicker. His father, Brian James Dwyer, reported that Waldo was crying and vomiting constantly after the treatments began.
Living in a state, that at the time, had yet to legalize medical cannabis, (update: Pennsylvania recently became the 24th state to legalize medical cannabis), Brian decided to give medical cannabis a try after hearing about the results of another child patient, a three-year-old boy named Landon Riddle, who was suffering from acute lymphocytic leukemia, a cancer of the blood and bone marrow. Landon was given just three months to live. But once his mother, Sierra Riddle, started giving Landon medical marijuana, his condition reportedly improved dramatically.
Like the Malancas, Brian initially thought that cannabis could help with his son’s appetite. Also like the Malancas and the Hydes, Brian noticed an immediate positive effect. Not only did Waldo’s appetite return, but within the first hour he had stopped crying. After four hours, 6-month-old Waldo was physically active and even laughing. Brian’s son never vomited again after the cannabis treatments started.
The Dwyers decided to have Waldo continue with chemotherapy, but rejected all forms of medication, substituting it instead for cannabis oil low in THC and high in the non-psychotropic chemical compound, CBD. Waldo is now two-years-old and cancer free.
Brian James Keyner, a devoted father of two, was a seven-year veteran of the police force when he suffered a near-fatal, traumatic brain injury on the job and was forced to retire. After in-patient rehabilitation for 4 months and out-patient rehabilitation for 5 years, plus anti-depressants, mood disorder, insomnia, and anti-spasmodic medications, as well as addictive opioids for pain relief, Brian was introduced to medical cannabis. With the use of medical cannabis, he was able to forego his depression, mood, and pain medications, and begin resuming a normal life. His story is one of inspiration and is proof that medical marijuana has both physical and mental health benefits.
“As a police officer with over 7 years on the force, I spent a lot of my time pursuing and arresting citizens for marijuana possession or use,” commented Keyner. “To say that my view of cannabis was negative is an understatement. But, after being forced to retire after my near-life-ending brain injury, I was treated with standard medical protocols. At the one end of the spectrum, they were ineffective. And on the other end, they were beginning to harm me, physically and emotionally, and interfering with my interactions with my children and my wife. I (reluctantly) started looking into medical cannabis after speaking with lifelong friends, Diana Peña and Jeff Caliri, founders of the medical cannabis collective, Myriam’s Hope. That conversation led me to physician, Dr. Bonni Goldstein. Learning the actual science and research behind cannabis helped to ease my preconceived notions that it was just an illegal, harmful drug. I’m living proof that cannabis users aren’t just spaced out stoners. I’m a much healthier, productive father, husband and member of my community because of medical cannabis.”
Tommy Turner, the father of then 11-year-old Coltyn Turner, was faced with an equally excruciating decision when his son was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and Lupus. On top of the severe pain, fatigue, and stunted growth, Coltyn also had to deal with flu-like symptoms from westernized medications. Coltyn recently spoke at our conference about his longtime battle with his illnesses, and the side-effects of his medications. Most importantly, he spoke bravely about his family’s discovery and pursuit of medical cannabis treatment, and the amazing transformation he’s been through since then. Once relegated to a wheelchair, Coltyn can ride a bike once again.
“I was only 11 when me and my dad left the rest of our family behind in Illinois to move to Colorado. My parents were desperate to help me find some relief and treatment that actually worked and didn’t make me more ill,” Coltyn commented. “Medical cannabis gave me back my life, and I’m passionate about making sure others know the truth about it, instead of continuing to criminalize it.” Coltyn’s efforts were nationally recognized recently when he was named “Cannabis Advocate of the Year” in 2015, an obviously well-deserved accolade!
Every day fathers must face the horrendous challenges of either fighting illness themselves or fighting for the lives of their children. They must balance health, the arduous task of being a father, and advocating for access to a life-saving substance. These are the heroes among us whose stories and commitment to improving the lives of their children are making it possible to save lives in the future.
Happy Father’s Day to ALL you dads!