A brave Derry girl battling a rare form of epilepsy that two years ago was inflicting 120 bouts of seizures a day on her small frame is this year looking forward to a happy Christmas after a course of cannabis oil dramatically transformed her life.
Summer Crossan-Condren (12), from Galliagh, was diagnosed with a very rare form of ‘feeding epilepsy’ two years ago.
The condition resulted in her suffering nearly constant ‘drop’ or ‘atonic’ seizures.
This was incredibly painful to witness for Summer’s mother Fiona, her father Martin, and her sisters Molly and Roisin.
Fiona explains: “Her head would be going, her arms would be going, her legs were going. When you are taking that many seizure activities day and night, her quality of life was so, so poor. It was as if her wee head had no headspace to think about anything else.”
But 18 month ago, Summer’s life was transformed.
She started a course of cannabis oil (cannabidiol or CBD) and the debilitating seizures reduced to 20 bouts per day and most of these at night.
“You can see now she’s at herself, she’s really well,” says Fiona.
“She’s so calm, she’s at peace within herself, there’s none of the manic banging. I know it’s a controversial issue and the minute cannabis oil was mentioned, I thought, hang on a minute.
“But it’s about raising awareness, about bringing it out in the open, making people aware this is not something that’s illegal. It’s not a taboo subject anymore. It’s something that is now being used.”
The family have been supported by local activist businesswomen Dr Maria McGee, of the Skeoge-based Marble Hill skin care and wellness company, which imports the oil.
Dr McGee explains: “It’s similar to Vitamin C or Iron. It enhances the endocannabinoids that we’ve all got. This is a top-up. You can see the difference that it’s made to Summer. It’s a wonderful thing to see. Fiona is one of the most inspirational people I’ve ever met. She went out and she found all this stuff all by herself. She’s had the courage.”