When Landon Riddle – then just 2 years old – was diagnosed with leukemia in 2012, the situation looked grim.
“His whole chest was full of leukemia tumors, which is why he couldn’t breathe,” his mother Sierra Riddle told CNN. “They started him on chemo, but told us that he probably wasn’t going to make it.”
Doctors gave Landon an 8% chance of survival.
The first two months of chemo went well. But then, Landon began showing severe signs of illness from the treatment.
He developed neuropathy in his legs, which made it nearly impossible for him to walk.
“Most days he couldn’t get off the couch,” his mother said. “He would just lay there and throw up and throw up.”
Landon also lost an alarming amount of weight – 50% of his body weight.
Eventually, his family came to the conclusion that Landon’s chemotherapy was killing him faster than it was killing the cancer.
But then, a family friend of the Riddles set up a Facebook page called Offer Hope for Landon. It wasn’t long before recommendations for medical marijuana treatment began pouring in.
Sierra and her mother Wendy began looking into it.
Through their research, they discovered the Stanley brothers – one of Colorado’s biggest cannabis growers and dispensary owners.
Around that time, the Standleys had been working on developing a marijuana breed with low psychoactive potential and, conversely, a much higher cannabidiol level.
According to the National Cancer Institute, cannabidiol is the ingredient in cannabis that provides it with anti-inflammatory and anti-tumor capabilities.
This was exactly what the Riddles wanted.
And so, Sienna Riddle began giving Landon marijuana – first in oil form, then as a pill.
The results were extraordinary. In just days, Landon was vomiting less. He started eating properly again. His mother also switched his diet to a 100% organic one.
Six months passed and Landon continued to improve. So his mother decided to stop the chemotherapy altogether.
Landon’s doctors weren’t too happy about that.
You see, if you’re a minor who’s been diagnosed with cancer in the U.S., chemotherapy is not an option. It’s mandatory.
Doctors at the Children’s Hospital of Colorado, where Landon was being treated, told the family that if they refused Landon’s chemo, child protective services would be called in.
And that’s exactly what happened.
For fear of losing custody of her son, Sierra put him back on chemotherapy. But that didn’t last long. Sierra and Landon soon stopped the at-home chemo treatment and instead continued using marijuana, allowing the hospital to provide the IV chemo once a month.
Landon’s doctors told child protective services he would be dead within three months if he didn’t continue chemotherapy as they mandated. That was in 2014. Landon, who is still in the custody of his mother, is still alive and well – and cancer free.
Landon’s grandmother Wendy said the family will continue to fight, with no regrets.
“It’s not just fighting for Landon,” she said. “It’s not just about him, it’s about all of the kids to come.”