Mover & Shaker of the Month: Heather Shuker

 “When you brighten a child’s life, you brighten a family’s, which in turn  strengthens families during difficult times.” – Heather Shuker 

          Wexford resident Heather Shuker knows what it is like to brighten a child’s life.  She is the mother of a beautiful, young lady.  Hannah just celebrated her 15th birthday this past April.  For her, every birthday is a milestone.  Hannah has severe intractable epilepsy and has suffered from well over 100,000 seizures since she was four months old. 

        Hannah’s prognosis was grim, and Heather was told there was a good chance that her daughter would not live to be a teenager.  For Heather, this was never considered to be acceptable.  Hannah has been through numerous treatments, and a little over five years ago, the doctors told her that Hannah was out of viable medical treatment options.   

       Everyday Heather faces the true reality that she could lose her daughter.  She is at high risk for SUDEP (sudden unexplained death from epilepsy).  She learned of medical cannabis. With nowhere else to turn, she decided it was worth trying this treatment for Hannah.  The major road block was this type of remedy was still illegal in Pennsylvania.          

       Heather set out to advocate for medical cannabis and became one of the founding members of Campaign 4 Compassion (C4C), a group of ten mothers, who in a grassroots effort, successfully advocated and educated for medical cannabis reform in Pennsylvania.          

      “We came together with a mission to legalize medical cannabis in Pennsylvania and refused to take no for an answer.  We spent countless days at the capitol in Harrisburg advocating. We attended town hall meetings and sent videos to legislators of our children’s lives.  Hannah participated in this every step of the way, traveling back and forth to Harrisburg many times.  This was the most challenging five years for the both of us,” Heather said.          

        Two and a half years after Heather began advocating, the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Act became law in Pennsylvania.  Hannah has certainly had her challenges in her 15 years, but she has never given up.     

        Her seizures have decreased.  The medical cannabis has helped her, but in addition to that, Heather is cautious with other things.  “We carefully look at all factors that go into Hannah’s care—from the water she consumes, to the cleaning products we use, to the temperature of her environment to the positive environment that we strive to surround her with—all of it contributes to her improvement. Hannah began to have a drop in seizures again this past January.  I increased her medical cannabis oil and they immediately stopped.  I use medical cannabis as the first line of defense when she goes into status, “Heather added. 

        Heather is continuing to be involved in the medical cannabis industry as she volunteers for the Pennsylvania Medical Cannabis Society.  She is the Patient and Community Outreach Director at Keystone Integrated Care, and she just recently embarked on her dream mission. 

       Heather and Hannah recently launched a new company, Empower Your Odyssey.  It is a kick-starter lifestyle apparel company with a mission to launch a company in which we will brighten the lives of children with medical special needs. All the proceeds for Empower Your Odyssey will go toward the start-up costs of Hannahtopia.  For more information on it, visit www.empoweryourodyssey.com.  To learn more about Hannah Shuker, visit her Facebook page at H2forMMJ.  

  By Paula Green 

 

 

cccs_1200x300_banner1-e1410447148907

cccs_1200x300_banner1-e1410447148907