My name is Kendra Jeffress. I’m one of the writers for Carolina Cannabis News and I want to introduce myself.
In my mid-20s, my doctors were convinced I had an eating disorder. My body had wasted to 90 pounds and I’d become frail and sickly. They threatened to commit me and at one point suggested I might have cancer. I thought I was going to die which was terrifying because my children were 10- and five years old at the time.
I wanted to eat, but no one believed me. I was in constant pain. I required blood transfusions every other day and full-time medical care. Things got so bad that my family made me write my last will and testament.
Eventually, I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, a condition that causes your intestines to malfunction. My uncles, who had witnessed their mother struggle with cancer, suggested cannabis might help me as it helped her. One day, they came to visit and convinced me to give it a try. We laughed and laughed. There was joy in sharing something with me that could change my life. And it did.
Photo courtesy of Kendra Jeffress.
As my body began to heal, my daughter’s began to deteriorate. Her name is Alexandra, though everyone calls her Ali.
My busy, normal child began to fall a lot. At first it looked like she was tripping, but then her body’s natural reflexes stopped protecting her. For example, when she failed to catch herself and a fall broke her arm I knew something was out-of-the-ordinary wrong.
She lives with Unverricht Lundborg Disease which causes her central nervous system to deteriorate. She was only six years old when her symptoms first appeared. It took five years to get the diagnosis. Today she is 21 and has outlived her doctor’s predictions by five years.
At one point in time, Ali was on a dozen medications that caused loss of cognitive function and made her lethargic and thirsty all the time. The drugs made her lifeless as her body shook with relentless seizures.
Simply put, her body’s switchboard is losing connectivity with her body. Her genetics are damaged and instructing her nervous system to self-destruct. As her body began to shut down, it seemed to convince itself there was no need to breathe.
Photo of Ali courtesy of Kendra Jeffress.
What the doctors never hear is that she dreams about one day living a normal life.
Kendra Jeffress and her daughter Ali at home. Photo courtesy of Kendra Jeffress.
Four years ago, the Medical University of South Carolina found that more than a decade of pharmaceutical treatment had left Ali’s body over saturated. We had to find another solution.
Cannabis answered the call. I knew cannabis helped me, and the more I learned I became convinced that it could also help my daughter. The mothers who eventually created the SC Compassionate Care Alliance suggested we try Rick Simpson’s cannabis oil.
Ali was in the intensive care unit at the time. As I administered the first drops beneath her tongue, I thought, “I don’t want her to die. Please let this work.”
Within minutes she was breathing on her own again. From that moment on, I have been an advocate for cannabis. Ali and I have even been on the news in Charlotte telling our story.
Medicinal Cannabis has saved her life many times. She is the longest surviving female in the United States with her specific type of disease. Not only is she surviving, but unlike many others afflicted with this disease she still has her mind. What the doctors never hear is that she dreams about one day living a normal life.
Because she and I both struggled to eat – worrying about her made my Crohn’s disease to flare up, and chewing triggered her seizures I became curious about adding cannabis to our food, because it couldn’t hurt.
Ali went from not eating to gaining 60 pounds, and I have been able to maintain a healthy weight consistently for the first time in my life. It was a miracle.
In 2015, our personal success with cannabis led me to start Ladybugs Medibles, my home-based catering service. Now I can help others, too. This will forever be part of Ali’s legacy.
I’ve also recently become an on-air personality on iHeart radio with WDRB, “The voice of the community in Charlotte.” And now I am a freelance journalist for Carolina Cannabis News, and I look forward to sharing with you what I’ve learned about cannabis, how it benefits our bodies — cannabis (in the Carolinas that means hemp) is full of nutrients and essential vitamins, oils and minerals.
On this journey, I am excited to meet other chefs, cooks and moms and dads who are in the kitchen and eager to help their families, just like me.
Let’s eat for life and discover new culinary cuisines together with cannabis.
A meal prepared by Kendra Jeffress that contains cannabis. Photo courtesy of Kendra Jeffress.
Ali went from not eating to gaining 60 pounds, and I have been able to maintain a healthy weight consistently for the first time in my life.
It was a miracle.
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