Discussing Pediatric Cannabis
Tracy Ryan is an overall cannabis wonder-woman. Most poignant is the story of how cannabis preserved her young daughter’s life in the battle with childhood cancer. Tracy is the founder & CEO of CannaKids, the CEO of CK Sciences, and the founder of SavingSophie.org. Her family’s story is featured in the illuminating documentary, Weed the People (which is coming to Netflix on 4/20/19). Watch us chat and hear more about her story and the life-saving cannabinoid research she’s working on and hear how Ricki Lake brought cannabis into her life. Watch or read the transcript below.
“Ricki Lake brought me weed and, honestly, it’s a good thing she did!”
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Tracy Ryan Bio:
Tracy Ryan is the founder & CEO of CannaKids, a California-based brand with a focus on supplying medical cannabis oil tinctures and medical cannabis products to patients of all ages. She is also the CEO of CK Sciences whose sole focus is to execute pediatric human trials using cannabis medicine both in the U.S. and around the world. In addition, Tracy founded the 501c3 non-profit, Saving Sophie Inc (SavingSophie.org). Their mission is to provide educational resources and financial support to families whose loved one has been diagnosed with a serious disease.
Connect with Tracy
Donate to Saving Sophie: https://savingsophie.org/donate/
Find Tracy on social media:
VIDEO RECORDING TRANSCRIPT:
Jessie Gill : 00:06 Hi, I’m Jessie a cannabis nurse and the founder of Marijuana Mommy, and you’re watching Patients are the Proof where we talk about the real benefits of cannabis. Today, I’m talking with Tracy Ryan. Tracy is the founder and CEO CannaKids, a California based brand with a focus on supplying medical cannabis oil, tinctures, and medical cannabis products to patients of all ages. She’s also the CEO of CK Sciences whose sole focus is to execute human pediatric trials using cannabis medicine, both in the US and around the world. In addition, Tracy founded the 501c3 nonprofit Saving Sophie. Their mission is to provide educational resources and financial support to families whose loved ones have been diagnosed with a serious disease.
Jessie Gill : 00:52 Hello Tracy.
Tracy Ryan: 00:55 Hi, how are you today?
Jessie Gill : 00:56 Great. You are busy.
Tracy Ryan: 00:59 You have no idea. That’s only part of what I have.
Jessie Gill : 01:03 I know. It is. That’s just the little scratch of the surface.
Tracy Ryan: 01:09 I like to be busy. What can I say?
Jessie Gill : 01:10 It’s good. It’s good. And you know the industry needs it, right?
Tracy Ryan: 01:13 Absolutely.
Jessie Gill : 01:15 Thank you so much for talking today. I’m so touched by your story. I’m really, really excited to share it with my readers and my viewers. And I’d love to just hear in your words a little bit about how you got involved in the industry.
Tracy Ryan: 01:30 Sure. So my story really starts over five years ago now. My daughter Sophie was diagnosed unfortunately with a brain tumor at eight and a half months old. It’s a low grade tumor called an optic pathway glioma. It’s a tumor that follows the optic track behind the eyes and therefore squeezes the optic nerves and one of the side effects can be blindness of this amongst many other things that can happen, like Hydrocephalus, early onset, puberty, issues with the chemotherapy and so on. But we have been very lucky with Soph because only after about two weeks post diagnosis we were connected with Rikki Lake and Abby Epstein and many of you are in my age range, will know that Rikki was a talk show host top 10 years and was in movies and was on dancing with the stars and is a household name for my generation. And her and abby had begun filming a documentary called Weed the People. We’re super excited about this film. It is wrapping up a theatrical release. They’ll be available on itunes at the end of January, around January 22nd and it’s premiering on Netflix in April.
Jessie Gill : 02:36 Oh on Netflix? That’s excellent. That’s wonderful because people need to see it. It’s such a remarkable film.
Tracy Ryan: 02:46 Absolutely. And we’re working on getting it all around the country. We’ve got about six or seven screenings coming up in Canada next week. The British parliament brought ricky and abbey over for a private screening. It’s becuase of this film that I found cannabis. Ricki Lake brought me weed! And honestly it’s a good thing she did because there had been a lot of people on social media that we got connected with through my husband’s old roommate who lived over abroad and they were messaging as saying you should use cannabis for Sophie. And we thought they were all stoned out of their minds are on some kind of crazy drug because we were by no means ever going to give our child something. people traditionally smoked just to get high and have a good time, so it was the one thing we really didn’t research. And then Ricki & Abby came into our lives and I had tried for a natural birth with Sophie because of the film The Business of Being Born, which helped revolutionize how women look at childbirth. And I trusted them, and I’m so glad that I did because it has changed my life, my daughter’s life, my husband’s life, my sister’s life because she works for me, and all of my friends who now have been employed by us some, some for as long as nine years.
Jessie Gill : 04:05 And way more than that, tracy. I mean, you are impacting the world on a massive scale, sharing your story and it’s so, oh gosh, it’s so, so desperately needed. So how is Sophie doing now?
Tracy Ryan: 04:15 She’s amazing. We just recently had an issue with her vision. Her vision has gotten very, very, very poor. It’s not even from the tumor right now. She had to have a brain tumor surgery on April 23rd of this year to debulk the tumor. Her tumor has a 90 percent survival rate, but an 85 percent recurrence rate. That’s why she’s still in chemotherapy with chemo. Just to kind of explain what that means and why she’s still one of the chemotherapy, but why is she’s ok. With chemo, it only goes after dividing cells will. When you have a slow growing tumor, the cells don’t divide that often. So if when the chemo goes into her body, those cells aren’t dividing at that very moment, then it’s only going to in the best case scenario, arrest development of the tumor. Well with cannabis in correlation with the chemotherapy, we have shrunk this tumor more than what any doctor could have ever expected many times. And she’s been a miraculous healer throughout this process since she first got on cannabis. Her first, miraculous healing event was when she had nine blood transfusions her first nine months on chemotherapy. And then the last four months of treatment she just stopped needing them, which is medically impossible. The way she healed from the brain surgery on April 23rd, she should’ve had two black eyes visible swelling because they cut her from here on top of her head to the bottom of her ear. She should have had all kinds of swelling in this area. She had no bruising on her entire face, not one bruise. She had no signs of visible swelling. She was supposed to be in the hospital for three to five days, was released in less than 48 hours, was told she would not be able to go back to school for one to two weeks, but was told she could go back to school for one in one to two days and what it did for her pain was so profound. Not only did the nurse chart it. I had to go and get her so she could see the difference between how Sophie was and how he was once the cannabis kicked in, but then she also passed the information onto the next nurse. The next nurse could know and be aware of what she had witnessed with her own eyes. So once. Sophie had this brain tumor surgery, a post surgical cyst formed the size of my fist formed inside of the tumor, so the cyst kept getting larger and larger and larger and fortunately, but oddly enough, started pooling on the side of her face right here. The liquid was seeping through the bone plate where the surgery was, so it was somewhat of a blessing in disguise because otherwise she would have had to have a shunt put surgically into her head which can come with its own list of issues, infections being one of them. We were able to go back through this existing scar from her brain tumor surgery and the day before Thanksgiving she had 50 ccs of fluid drawn off and we think that becomes such a massive shift that occurred in her brain that it has now further damaged her vision. To meet her you would not know, just by talking to her and watching her get around, That there’s anything wrong with her. But if you’re standing more than three feet past her visually, she can’t see you. But she never complains and she’s so happy and she loves her life and she public speaks with me all over the country and I mean the is just.. So you know there’s been some challenges this year, but because of those challenges, Sophie’s brain tumor is now, growing and mice that pump human blood at one of the top universities in the country. Her immune system is being studied by the world leading research scientists in natural killer cells. Natural killer cells are what fails and causes us to have cancer in the first place, which is one of her major discoveries and now because of what we have found in Sophie’s immune system, which has helped us to now understand why she’s a miraculous healer. We’re now studying seven other CannaKids patients, two of which were supposed to succumb to their diseases three and a half years ago. One young man had 90 days to live with no chance of survival after his cancer recurred six times in three years on Western medicine. Three and a half years later, he’s still cancer free and his immune system mimics Sophie’s and their immune systems are functioning on such levels that it’s humanly impossible, so this research is not only leading to an expansion of our understanding of this plant and our understanding of how to treat cancer, but I’ve now also raised 55 of the $70,000 that I need in order for the surgical, the surgical process to occur so that we can now put our research scientists treatment plan into the brain of the mice that pump the human blood. Because we now know why Sophie has this brain tumor that won’t go away. She has no natural killer cells in her brain whatsoever, but from the neck down, they functione five times out of a healthy adults. So, we are now working on a cure for her. And I believe that this process will. This procedure will occur in the next six weeks. If it works. Not only would this be a cure for my daughter potentially, but the thousands, if not millions of other people that this could create a major breakthrough for could be absolutely profound. We’re very excited about what has come out of these tragedies and we are silver lining staple and we just keep trying to find the good and we keep finding it.
Jessie Gill : 09:22 You’re doing an amazing job of finding it, so how are you raising money for that?
Tracy Ryan: 09:26 So there’s a couple ways that you can actually donate to Saving Sophie and it’s through our [email protected] www.savingsophie.org. We also have fundraisers that we do throughout the year. You can contact us on social media and we can show you where our little campaign sites are as well. You can throw a little campaign on your own facebook page if you have a birthday and you can choose Saving Sophie as your organization of choice to have your birthday funds donated to in lieu of gifts. We’ve probably raised six or $7,000 in the last few months from just people donating their birthday money to us.
Jessie Gill : 10:04 Cool.
Tracy Ryan: 10:04 Yeah, it’s exciting. So we were really starting to try and get the word out in a very large way and we’re looking for philanthropists and supporters of the cause that would be willing to give anywhere from $5 to $5,000,000. No amount is too small or too large.
Jessie Gill : 10:19 I love that. It’s amazing. I mean you’re doing a remarkable job with it already. Just raising money so you have how far to go?
Tracy Ryan: 10:27 So we’ve raised 45,000. We’ve got another 25,000 to go on that. Awesome. Also very, very, very close to closing funds for our lab that we’re going to build. It’s going to be a research facility and will also allow us to release our research scientists test into the medical community that are predictive of when the natural killer cells fail. Thus helping us understand when a patient is at risk for cancer. So not only are we trying to get rid of cancer, we’re trying to prevent it from ever occuring.
Jessie Gill : 10:59 Wow. That’s so amazing.
Tracy Ryan: 11:01 Crazy. Because I literally just got dropped into the scientist’s lab, the ver thing that cannabis is doing to my child to make her this miraculous healer that she is, is literally the very thing that this woman is the world leader in.
Jessie Gill : 11:17 Wow. What a…
Tracy Ryan: 11:19 Coincidence? I don’t know. I don’t think so.
Jessie Gill : 11:21 That’s an amazing coincidence if there is such a thing. So, what else are you working on? I know you have a ton of projects.
Tracy Ryan: 11:28 Yes, we do. We have a lot. We’re working on a ton of projects right now. The research one is always going to be my passion and expanding the brand. What’s exciting about CannaKids is we are now taking on global expansion. We have licensed our brand and our product formulations to Australia. We should be closing in Canada this week, if not by Monday, We are working on Europe right now with an incredible team that we do believe probably by next week we’ll come to terms on, and we’re also in talks with China, so our. Our big, big, big goal is to get our medicine to patients globally because we know we’re getting such a better understanding of how to work with patients. We’ve got these incredible nurses that understand Western medicine, they understand cannabinoid therapy, they are trained to the utmost extent before even taking their first patient call with CannaKids. We make them go through the most rigorous training that’s available out in the market today and then they also train additionally with us based on our data that works alongside with our medicine. We are working on a national hemp line because we want to get our cbd out too quickly. Because believe it or not, it’s easier going to a legal country than it is to go to another state because you have to replicate what we do here in every state every single time, but in Canada, we just work with one person and can get all over the country same with Australia. So that’s why we’re going more global and focusing on hemp for national, since we’re now a midst the farm bill passing.
Jessie Gill : 13:04 Yes. Yes. That’s exciting.
Tracy Ryan: 13:06 We have that happening and then you know the lab. We also just won a license in West Hollywood, California.
Jessie Gill : 13:11 Congratulations. That’s amazing.
Tracy Ryan: 13:15 The goal is to open the very first ever have CannaKids Wellness Clinic. We’re very excited about this. Patients will be able to come in, they’ll be able to meet with a nurse, we’ll have a kids club where their children can be dropped off with a licensed care provider if they need to go to our cbd wellness spa or need to go next door to our cafe where we’ll have our line of products available for purchase because you can’t take a child where medical cannabis is being sold, so we’ll have a kid center for that. So we’re really excited about being able to bring extension courses, nurses, training, events, fundraisers to the West Hollywood community and the goal is really hopefully have the lab, CannaKids offices and the clinic in the same area or in the same building so that we can all work centrally together. So we’re building quite a large team right now to help me with all of these endeavors. I’m kind of the mastermind behind it, but I’ve got wonderful teams helping me execute on all the different projects and it’s exciting. We think that this is really going to be a banner year for us.
Jessie Gill : 14:15 It’s so incredible. I’m just so grateful for everything you do for everything you are doing and you’re speaking at the cannabis nurses network conference. Right?
Tracy Ryan: 14:26 I am. I’m very excited about that.
Jessie Gill : 14:28 Me too. I’m so excited about it. I’ll be there. I’ll be on one of the panels and I’m so looking forward to it. I mean, it’s amazing how many healthcare professionals are finally coming around and so desperately needed.
Tracy Ryan: 14:45 I mean if you look at where my husband and I were five years ago with the healthcare system and how nervous we were to have these conversations with our doctors and how nervous we were to give our child a dose of cannabis in the hospital when we were inpatient and where we are now and today where we literally have nurses, like if Sophie is inpatient, a lot of the nurses now in Sophie’s hospital, children’s hospital, have heard of CannaKids because we have so many patients that we treat there. And I have literally had nurses come to me and say, there’s a mom who I know wants to get involved with cannabis because she’s communicated it to me. She’s desperate, her child is dying. Would you be able to help them? And you know, I, she was like, I can’t have anything to do with it. If you bumped into him in the hall, that’s Great. I can’t tell you exactly who they are. But if she was willing to come to you, would you be open to the conversation? And I said, please send me anyone you have, any time you have them. I’ve got nurses begging me to get the research to go as fast as possible because these children are suffering from excrutiating pain. They’re refractory to opioids, the opioids are not working anymore through end of life care, which is a big passion of mine to try and get trials going in that field to not only help try and save their lives, but help them with transition if we’re not able to. Because the opiod epidemic and, and just opioids at large are very problematic, especially for a kid. Even when we go to change Sophie’s Chemo Protocol, because we constantly are having to adjust her protocol and try different medicines because of the way her tumor behaves. Even her doctor will bring in the list of drugs where there’s potential interactions and he’ll have me go through the list and make sure cannabis is not on that list.
Jessie Gill : 16:31 That’s great. A lot of healthcare professionals aren’t even aware of the fact that there can be drug interactions.
Tracy Ryan: 16:39 And that’s very true. And today, believe it or not, there are still doctors who don’t even know about cannabis because the medical professionals that have these rigorous jobs and keep them, you know, shift after shift doubles there. You know, when they, when they’re not working, they’re doing paperwork and when they’re not doing paperwork, or they’re spending time with their family. I’ve met doctors at top hospitals like MD Anderson before who are like I don’t have time to watch tv or read the news, I know nothing about what’s going on in this world. So that’s why every time we are inpatient at any hospital, anywhere in the country for that matter, because it has happened, we’ve had to be in a hospital in Portland, we’ve had to be in hospital when we traveled to Hawaii because of got sick on an airplane and we were worried that it was her brain tumor. We made it a point every where we go to the open and honest about what we’re doing, to communicate the research that we have going on and to take the time to educate anyone who is willing to listen and it’s paid off. We’ve really seen a huge shift, especially at children’s hospital where my daughter is treated.
Jessie Gill : 17:38 Wow, that’s amazing. I’m so eager for that to come to the east coast were so far behind you guys over here in New Jersey to go.
Tracy Ryan: 17:51 Slowly getting there.
Jessie Gill : 17:51 That’s true. Slow. Slowly but surely. Before we finish up, I’d love to hear what you say to parents who have kids who are very interested and have children who obviously need it and could benefit from it, but they’re scared of the stigma.
Tracy Ryan: 18:12 One of the things that I say all the time to people I meet everywhere, if everyone could just jump inside my brain for five minutes and know what I know, no one would question the efficacy or safety of this plant. That’s number one. Number two, don’t trust me. Read the research. If you go to savingsophie.org, we have a whole section called cannabis studies where we have all kinds of research that’s published that we are constantly updating, whether it be articles about new discoveries or new papers that are being published or stories of survival. We have all of all of those there and we’re constantly adding more all the time. We currently have them in three categories, cancer, autism and epilepsy because those are our three big fields of focus. But there are articles in there that pertain to everyone that’s education on the endocannabinoid system. Why and how it works, you know, as, as far as what we know today. So don’t trust me. Read about it and watch the videos. I was on the TV show, the doctors, this past year, which is a nationally syndicated, a emmy award winning television show, and these guys are grabbing onto these stories because they too believe cannabis can help. National Geographic has been following us for five years, We’ve been photographed for basically on every major event I can name and even when we were working up to Sophie’s brain tumor surgery and I was getting the tissue ready to go to the hospital, and then the tissue being then taken to the research facility that was all photographed by national geographic. These people would not be following us, if there was not something to this plant. And watch our film. You cannot walk away from this movie after seeing these five families battle with cancer and you see onscreen what this plant does for these children. Not to mention they interviewed the top research scientists around the world Dedi Meiri, married from the Technion being my partner by the way. Year two of his research right now. A dear friend and business partner. Raphael Mechoulam is on there, Christina Sanchez. I mean there’s all kinds of brilliant minds, that are showing you firsthand in their research where cannabis is eradicating disease in their machine and animal models and how desperately we need to push this into humans. And you also learned about the propaganda. You learn why cannabis was made to be illegal in the first place and when you really start to understand how far back this plant dates, which they have, they have post dated it like around 8,000 years post the written word. That’s how far back we’ve known that cannabis has been used. And if you look at the medical books and the apothecary books and the pharmaceutical tinctures that were being sold across the country before Harry Anslinger and William Randolph Hearst in the thirties went on this trail of, of um, really just confusing the population at large as to what this plant is and does. Even the American Medical Association when against these gentleman and said, do not put cannabis on schedule. I we have all kinds of diseases and issues that this plant works for and we don’t have a replacement, but it was all about money and power.
Jessie Gill : 21:25 Thats a great point, because I think a lot of people miss that, that the American Medical Association was pro cannabis and during the 1937 marijuana tax act, they testified that they did not want it banned and they did not want prohibition. A lot of people don’t realize that. They’re like, oh, it was just bad.
Tracy Ryan: 21:42 They used to use cannabis on women during childbirth. That’s how safe the medical associations believe this plant to be all the way up until the thirties, so if you start there and then work your way forward, I feel like it’s a lot easier to really have an open mind to it. Once your mind is open, it can’t be closed.
Jessie Gill : 22:02 Yeah, that’s beautiful. I love that. Thank you so much tracy. It’s such a joy, such a pleasure to talk to you. I’m such a big fan of all you do and I truly, truly am grateful because it’s stories like yours and like Sophie’s that is really changing the face of this medicine.
Tracy Ryan: 22:20 Thank you for all you do and I cannot wait to meet you in person.
Jessie Gill : 22:23 I can’t wait to meet you either next month, so if there are any nurses watching this, you need to go to the cannabis nurses network conference at the end of February, so definitely go check that out and I’m gonna link down in the description to all of your sites as well.
Tracy Ryan: 22:38 Great. Thank you so much.
Jessie Gill : 22:40 Thank you. I’ll see you the next month..