Jacel Delgadillo quietly tries to wake up her son Bruno Stillo with kisses at her home in Miami, Fla. on Wednesday, May 1, 2019. Since he's been able to legally take forms of medical cannabis oils after Amendment 2 passed in 2016, his seizures have dropped to about one a week. Prior to using medical cannabis oil, during the worst of Bruno's Dravet syndrome, he would experience up to 300 seizures a day. “It’s scary, but at the same time, it’s exciting. Before I was able to leave him on a bed, and keep an eye on him so he doesn’t have a seizure and now I have to keep an eye on him so he doesn’t fall,” Delgadillo said. (Scott McIntyre for Leafly)
On November 8th, 2016, most of America was awaiting the results of the presidential race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. In Miami, though, Jacel Delgadillo was rejoicing at an election watch party after Amendment 2, a statewide measure to legalize medical marijuana in Florida, had passed.
Delgadillo had been an outspoken champion for medical marijuana after seeing the effects it had on her son, Bruno Stillo, who was born with a rare and debilitating form of epilepsy called Dravet syndrome.
Her main reaction was one of relief. “Finally, Bruno can be a legal patient,” Delgadillo said, recounting her thoughts upon hearing Amendment 2 had passed. “Finally, I don’t have to fear the law. And finally, I can get him relief without fearing that I will have anybody come after me for his medication.”
Over the past two years, Delgadillo has been able incorporate THC, CBD, and THC/CBD combination oils and sprays from various dispensaries into Bruno’s treatment. When she spoke to Leafly in 2016, Delgadillo’s son was taking four pharmaceutical medications, along with a CBD oil as part of a clinical trial. Today, Delgadillo has Bruno on just one pharmaceutical drug, Clonazepam, and a mixture of THC and CBD products.
Delgadillo says that she’s afraid to take him off the last pharmaceutical since he’s so well controlled now, as far as his seizures and mobility are concerned.
Bruno’s alertness has never been higher, which brings its own challenges.
“He’s become so alert that he notices patterns, which he wasn’t able to before THC,” Delgadillo said. “But with his condition, patterns can be a trigger for seizures.”
Bruno’s improvements have surprised both Delgadillo and Bruno’s therapists. Their top goals for Bruno were for him to crawl, for him to sit on his own, and for him to stand. Those milestones have all been accomplished since he’s been able to include THC as part of his treatment.
“I honestly thought we were never going to get there,” said Delgadillo.
During the worst of his condition, Bruno was having up to 300 seizures a day. Now he experiences around one per week. Since establishing his new legal-MMJ regime, Bruno has gone for periods of as long as two weeks without a seizure, which Delgadillo said was previously unheard of.
One of the family’s proudest moments came when Delgadillo had Christmas photos taken of her daughter Angeline standing alongside Bruno in 2017. It was one of the first photos of Bruno standing, ever. He was 6 years old.
“That was a huge success for us,” said Delgadillo.“That was like winning the lottery for us.”
Even though Bruno is experiencing these changes and improvement first hand, Delgadillo is getting to see her son in a new light that she never thought was possible and connecting emotionally more than ever.
“It’s life changing,” said Delgadillo, “It’s like giving me my child back. The child that I never knew.”
Scott McIntyre is a South Florida-based independent photographer who focuses on documentary storytelling. His main focus has been finding the people, places, and ideas that make Florida unique. Scott was most recently a staff photographer at the Naples Daily News, where he was named Photographer of the Year (small markets) in NPPA's 2016 Best of Photojournalism Contest.