Illinois teen with epilepsy gets her life back with medical marijuana

I have met a lot of “Warrior Moms” in my travels as a cannabis activist but there is none more courageous and tenacious than Amy Bottoms, mother of Allison Sky Centennial, a 16 year old southern Illinois teen with epilepsy. If there was an award for “Mother of the Year,” Amy deserves it! The family has gone through unimaginable pain, suffering and stress for years, desperately trying to help Ally, before discovering medical cannabis as a life-saving treatment.

Allison Sky Centennial

Allison Sky Centennial

I first read about Ally on Facebook. It was just after she started using cannabis products which “gave her her life back” and I knew I wanted to share her story. There are so many children with epilepsy whose parents are still afraid of the stigma of cannabis. I hope Ally’s story will change at least one person’s mind.

I did a conference call with Ally and Amy a few days ago. Amy has 2 other children living in the home who were up and about at the time of our call, so the 2 of them went outside on the back porch to find a quiet place to talk with me. There was background noise from the whipping wind, but it was fine.

When Ally was 4, she developed a serious ear infection for which she received surgery. There were “complications” which means it was botched and as a result she started having seizures. She kept getting infections which lead to more seizures which needed to be treated at the hospital. They were going to their local hospital twice a day for IV treatments for the infections EVERY DAY FOR 1 1/2 YEARS.

She was diagnosed with intractable epilepsy and given lots and lots of prescription medications which were not helping. When she was 11, she developed  a blood disease from yet another infection which led to another surgery which left her without her right eardrum. As a result, she is deaf in her right ear. But, she almost died, as result, because the doctor didn’t know what to do next and thankfully, he admitted this and they found another doctor who saved her life.

She had been going to her local school which was very small and only had a handful of students in her classroom. If her physical problems weren’t enough for a child to handle, she was bullied by her classmates to the point where she was physically assaulted. I’m sure everybody reading this is absolutely appalled by this. She developed depression and PTSD, in addition to her epilepsy. By this time she is 14, having 15 seizures a day, taking 33 pills a day which, of course, are causing all sorts of side effects including migraines and insomnia…and not even helping.

Poor Ally, who was confined to a wheelchair in a large HS building with no elevator, had to be carried up the stairs which caused her to have multiple seizures.  At that point, Amy decided it was time to homeschool Ally and it was the right decision.

If the family didn’t have enough heartbreak, Amy’s mother developed inoperable lung cancer. But, there is a happy ending to this story as she was treated with FECO, her tumor disappeared within 3 months and she is currently cancer free. To all the Western medicine oncologists who do not believe that cannabis oil can cure cancer, here is yet another living, breathing person who says otherwise.

At this point, Amy decided it was time to try cannabis oil to treat Ally. They first went to Loyola Hospital and the doctor not only refused to recommend cannabis oil, but he suggested that they remove part of her brain which could leave her without the ability to speak. Clearly, this was an unacceptable treatment option. They next tried Rush Memorial Hospital and were also told no. Coming to Chicago was not only a waste of time, but it was life-threatening for both Ally and Amy. Every time Ally rode on the interstate, she would start seizing.  Amy would have to pull over, whereby Ally, whose seizures gave her superhuman strength, would run out of the car and Amy would have to wrestle her into a ditch.

Because pediatric patients are required to have 2 doctors signatures in order to qualify for a medical marijuana card, they were very frustrated. But, they persevered and were able to find 2 doctors to sign the application for the MCPP, one of which was her PCP (primary care physician).

Alexis, 11, Allison, Rylan, 6, Mom and Dad at Starved Rock a month after starting her treatment.

Alexis, 11, Allison, Rylan, 6, Mom and Dad at Starved Rock a month after starting her treatment.

Ally got her medical cannabis card and on February 25, 2016, she had her first cannabis oil treatment. She has been seizure free ever since. While she is still on 5 prescription medications for all her conditions, Amy is hoping to wean Ally off of all of them, eventually. Ally had a migraine that lasted 2 1/2 years which finally went away, thanks to the 3 different strains of cannabis oil that she was prescribed by her dispensary. Can you imagine being a child and having to deal with that? She is one courageous young woman.

They chose to receive treatment from a dispensary in Will County. They couldn’t be happier with the level of care and the quality of the products that they receive from this dispensary. Because Ally is a minor, she is not allowed to purchase flower until she is 18. As a result, they can’t make their own oils and edibles, so it is very expensive, even though they get a discount from the dispensary for sharing Ally’s story. They have a Gofundme page in order to defray the cost of Ally’s medicine. When Ally is at home, she takes the combination of 3 different cannabis oils which treat all of her conditions which include pain, anxiety, migraines, seizures and fibromyalgia and allow her to sleep well at night. When she is out and about, she substitutes 2 of the oils for an edible product and a CBD capsule.

At the moment, Ally has run out of 2 of her oils, due to the high cost of her medicine since no insurance company covers cannabis products. As a result, her migraine has returned along with her back pain. With all she has been through, the fact that the prohibitive cost stops her from getting the medicine she needs is heartbreaking, so PLEASE give generously to her Gofundme page.

Ally and Amy went to Springfield to talk to Governor Rauner and they were featured on the cover of the Illinois State Register. Then, just the other day, one of the family’s friends contacted the producers of the “Ellen Show” and shared Ally’s story. They are in talks about appearing on the show which would really raise awareness of what cannabis oil can do!

Here’s the link to Ally Bally’s Epilepsy Awareness page, if you want to follow her journey.

Please share this post in order to give hope to other desperate parents. There IS a medicine that controls epilepsy that many doctors will not recommend. We need to change the attitudes of both doctors and the public to demand safe access to cannabis for all our citizens.

As always, I love to read your comments!

I’ve written a series of posts about medical marijuana. If you want to read more you can click on the “Medical Marijuana” tag at the top of my page.

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