Callie Blackwell went to the extreme for her son.
Other families in the United Kingdom have had their children taken away from them for trying alternative treatments like cannabis.
It was quite a risk.
Would you do it?
Deryn had suffered enough. In 2010, when he was just ten years old, he had been diagnosed with leukaemia.
Eighteen months later, he was told he had a secondary cancer, the extremely rare Langerhans cell sarcoma.
Only 50 cases have ever been recorded and only five people in the world currently have it. But no one had ever been found to have the two cancers combined, making Deryn unique. One boy in seven billion people.
By 2013, after nearly four years of hospital treatment, it seemed that the only thing left for him were opiate drugs to ease the pain as he reached the end of his life.
Like any mother would be, I was desperate to find something to alleviate his suffering.
I spent hour after hour researching on the internet, and that’s where I came across reports of a substance called Bedrocan, a cannabis-based painkiller that wasn’t available in the UK. Surely Bedrocan had to be a better option than mind-numbing morphine?
But the doctor told me that while it was effective, it had not been tested on children and she couldn’t prescribe it.
And so we took a decision that will horrify many parents reading this – and horrified me, too.
After all, I’d never seen anything positive come of smoking cannabis, and in my days working in nightclubs, illegal drugs had been my enemy. But if it could help my darling boy escape his daily torment, I was willing to try it.
Deryn had become addicted to the opioid drug, cyclizine, that was administered to him at the hospital as other treatments continued to fail.
His bone marrow transplant failed and he was moved to a hospice to await his death.
There was no hope for him.
So, his mom did the only thing she could think of doing — risking jail time to keep her son out of the morphine fog and help him with his suffering.
Callie researched online and determined what she needed to make a tincture out of marijuana to help her son. She and her husband prepared the concoction at home.
Deryn sucked on the pen, breathed in and blew out a massive cloud of vapour – and we frantically waved our hands around trying to disperse it, although there wasn’t the smell of cannabis. It smelt more like popcorn. After ten minutes, Deryn said that the pain had decreased a little and he felt more relaxed – the words we had been longing to hear.
I was sitting next to him, a nightly vigil, and held his hand. Once again, the situation seemed quite desperate. What would happen, I wondered, if I gave Deryn a small amount of golden cannabis tincture directly in his mouth? The vaporiser had brought him some relief but could a higher dose have better results?
I took a small, empty syringe from the medicine cupboard in the hospice and quickly checked that there was no one outside. It was New Year’s Eve so staff levels were minimal. I drew up 5ml of the honey-like substance, which had a sweet, floral flavour.
Still sobbing uncontrollably, Deryn opened his mouth and I popped the syringe underneath his tongue. Deryn held it for a minute before swallowing. Half an hour passed. He was no longer having a panic attack. He looked peaceful. I asked him how he was feeling.
‘I feel relaxed,’ he told me. ‘I’m aware of everything. I just feel at peace, Mum. It’s beautiful.’
Read more: Daily Mail
It was just after this that a nurse entered to give Deryn his dose of cyclizine, the medication he had become addicted to.
Deryn refused it saying that he ‘didn’t feel like he needed it anymore’ and went to sleep.
Over the next few days, Callie administered more of the tincture under his tongue when he was in pain.
Deryn got stronger and he was getting better. They released him from palliative care because they didn’t believe he was dying.
He is now 17, and his blood counts are much improved.
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