Sly Generosity: Cheryl Shuman Meets Brave Mykayla
There are people in life that change things for you, how you see things, the way you look at the world, and sometimes they can change your path. There are people you meet that bring good energy and love; and then there are some that you wish you never had the misfortune of meeting.
Lately I have had a lot unfortunate encounters with less than ethical people, and sometimes they are very deceiving about their true nature.
My daughter, Brave Mykayla Comstock, was diagnosed with T-Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. This is a particularly rare and aggressive form of childhood cancer. The standard protocol of steroid therapy and chemotherapy combined was not enough to put Mykayla’s leukemia into remission. When this information was presented to us, we turned to medical cannabis to help treat her leukemia and the side effects of chemotherapy. A few days after Mykayla’s first dose of full-extract cannabis oil, she was declared in full remission.
The story that started it all
November 25, 2012
The Oregonian published a story by staff writer Noelle Crombie, about our family and our controversial choice to administer Medical Cannabis to our then 7 year old daughter. Mykayla’s story became viral overnight, as the article was submitted to the Associated Press Wire.
The eye-catching headline commandeered headlines across the nation: “A 7-year-old Uses Medical Marijuana.” Naturally the story gained the attention of some very influential TV show hosts. Anderson Cooper, Dr. Phil, and Dr. Oz all reached out to our family attempting to have us appear on their shows.
We were inclined to agree to some coverage initially, and agreed to allow the Portland Oregon area news agencies into our home for interviewing. We quickly learned the first lesson of media — not everyone will portray you in a positive light.
Most news/media outlets are interested in the sensationalism of a story for the ratings. One of the three local news authorities portrayed us very negatively during the broadcast; even going as far as saying our entire house “reeked of marijuana.” We quickly became reserved and selective on who we agreed to do appearances with. We then turned down the first three shows so as not to destroy our story before it even began to be heard.When Brave Mykayla’s story was beginning to gain more exposure and was becoming exponentially viral we were asked to appear on the Ricki Lake show via email. We had turned down the other offers, but decided that we should do a large network appearance in order to propel Mykayla’s story further, because we felt it could help many others like Mykayla.
Below is the email we received:After discussing this new turn of events, we were told to reach out to Ms. Cheryl Shuman, the self-proclaimed “Martha Stewart of Marijuana.” by a mutual friend. This friend told us that Cheryl would be able to help us navigate the media shark infested waters that we were now treading in. I believed that a more experienced person may be able to help me as a sort of liaison to the media.
After a brief introduction we agreed to work with her. We were scared and desperate and Ms. Shuman promised she had our best interests in mind. She asked for all of the TV show producer contact information in order to better situate our families position on these shows. She offered to join us on the Ricki Lake show, and naturally we agreed, and were thankful to have someone on our side just in case Ricki was not so friendly. We booked the trip and the show with the producers, and waited for the day to come. Erin and I were so excited to fly to Los Angeles and go on television with our story, and we would talk about it often in anticipation.
Before we traveled to LA, we were lucky enough to meet some very generous and loving people along the way. Folks offered to host fundraisers, others offered to interview us and help spread the story, and many providers of medical cannabis reached out with generous offerings for Mykayla. We were extremely thankful, and to this day we are filled with gratitude from all the kindness and genuine love of so many peaceful strangers.
There was only one problem: Everyone we met seemed to have the same warning: “Avoid Cheryl Shuman.”
We could not imagine why, because she was a very sweet woman. We had shared so many things with her, and she had promised Mykayla so many fantastic dreams. She even allowed us access to her “celebrity database,” so we might be able to connect with some of the famous people Mykayla wanted to meet. Phone numbers, addresses, emails and agents. “How cool is that?” we thought.
A very kind and well-known organization out of the Bay Area, Steep Hill Labs offered to do an awesome fundraiser for Mykayla, with live bands at a club in San Francisco. These people were sincere, and shared with us the detailed plans as they came out. We were so excited and could not wait to share this with Cheryl, our acting publicist, and we asked her to help promote the event. She proceeded to tell us that these people were of questionable integrity, and that their business was failing. She stated that they would not be honest with any funds raised.
This had happened to us once before, and so we were very disturbed by this information and we regrettably called off the fundraiser the next day. They say that hind sight is 20/20 — and if only we knew what we know now. The folks who were trying to help are actually some really great people and we missed out on a wonderful opportunity because of the advice of Ms. Shuman.Enter Rapid Fire Marketing. We were introduced to the CEO of Rapid Fire, Tom Allinder. Cheryl described an incredible working relationship with this company, which had hired her for their publicity, as well. Their current project was branding and distributing a product they called “The Cannacig.” Tom and Cheryl offered to help do much needed fundraising for our family by having us advertise their vaporizer on the Brave Mykayla website.
They told us that they would donate to Mykayla 15 percent of all profits that were earned via our Ricki Lake appearance.
We thought this was a great opportunity and proceeded to place banners all over BraveMykayla.com to help advertise the company that was seemingly so kind and generous. We were very excited for the show because Tom and Cheryl made it seem like we were going to hit the jackpot in Cannacig sales from the appearance. We were unsure of the promises being made so I also requested that 20 Cannacig vaporizers be sent to us to sell or raffle off for donations.
With the trip date arriving fast, we were concerned with our wardrobe for the show. We live a humble life and were not sure we were ready for the bright lights of Hollywood. Cheryl sent us $100 to buy some nice clothes. We were very grateful, as we had no money to buy our own.
The trip to Los Angeles was amazing. We landed at LAX and were picked up by a limousine company and chauffeured to the Beverly Terrace, a beautiful classic Beverly Hills hotel constructed in a classic Spanish style, complete with a private courtyard surrounding a pool. The Ricki Lake Show had really set us up nice for our stay. We will never forget that experience and the beauty we found there.The next day we were off to Culver City studios to record the show. We met up with Cheryl there and went over what our game plan for the day was. She then informed us that she had worked out with Ricki her own spot on the show, to tell her story, and show off the Cannacig in order to “raise more money.” We applauded her and we were just happy to be there to share Mykayla’s story with everyone.
When we met Ricki Lake, she was so nice and happy to hear about our daughter’s story. She introduced us to some very interesting people while we were walking with her, and then left us with the makeup team for the show.
During the recording of the episode, Erin and I were introduced and quickly interviewed about our experience with Mykayla. We told as much as we could about her story in the short time we were given, and it was exhilarating for us to be on TV. We had hoped we did a good job.
But after a few minutes Ms. Shuman took over with her story about her semi-recovery from liver cancer, and then she quickly proceeded to a QVC style product placement on TV about the Cannacig and other medical cannabis products.
In all of her selling and pushing of her products, she failed to mention the Brave Mykayla website even once. We began to wonder how people would know to find our special banners.
After the show, we hung out with the people at the studios before leaving with Ms. Shuman and her assistant.
She invited us to stay at her house for the night because we had already checked out of the Beverly Terrace. We rode with her in her Prius across town to her apartment, where we spent the night. We got to try some of the medicine from Beverly Hills Cannabis Club, apparently operated by Cheryl. The cannabis we were offered lacked in quality, but we enjoyed the relaxation nonetheless.
Our flight time came quickly, and soon we were back in Portland, Oregon telling our family and friends all about our experience. On January 10th the show aired. After watching the show, we realized that we just told all of America via national television that we helped usher in Mykayla’s remission from Leukemia using medical cannabis oil. It was thrilling to be able to share our story with so many people and we were touched by the outpouring of support.
We were also very excited about the potential donation from Rapid Fire Marketing because we had so many overdue bills and our rent was outstanding as well. Ms. Shuman was on her social media bragging about Rapid Fire Marketing stocks and using our website to pump their products.
$RFMK Stock SOARS! NATL TV! $$$ Ricki Lake Show Rehearsals @CherylShuman http://youtu.be/lj8EXhMqGFs PLZ RT 🙂 15% sales go 2 BraveMykayla.com
[Tweet from Cheryl]
OMG $RFMK #CANNACIG #MARIJUANA #MILLIONAIRES IN THE MAKING #GREENRUSH #STOCKS ARE GOING TO THE MOON!!!!! @RICKI LAKE http://therickilakeshow.com/Health/Show-Makes-TV-History-With-Medical-Marijuana-Discussion# @CHERYLSHUMAN
[Tweet from Cheryl]
“Our goal is to help the family raise enough money for Mykayla to see her through all of her health care needs as well as to finance a college education when she officially beats cancer permanently to live a long, happy and healthy life.” The company has already received an inquiry for an initial order for 20,000 units valued at $2 million when news of the talk show appearance was announced on the official Ricki Lake website.”
~ Tom Allinder, CEO, RFMK
Shortly after the show aired our relationship with Ms. Shuman became strained for no apparent reason. We discovered a war of words on an article done by CelebStoner.com involving her and another person that she assumed was another prominent activist. These comments were so disgusting and abusive that I requested that Celebstoner take down the comments, and/or the article, so such horrible words were not found under our daughter’s beautiful story. At this time I decided to end our working relationship with Cheryl.
No donation ever came from Rapid Fire Marketing, and we had only the 20 Cannacig units to sell, which was nearly impossible. We were asking $40 each for them, and were only able to sell four. Out of the four of them we sold, they all broke within a week of use and we then had to give replacements. They have since been given away with bad reviews attached to them.
I cannot endorse and take money for a questionable product; I am too honest for that. I usually tell people exactly what I think of the product, and no one wants to buy it after I say “It is a terrible product that breaks all of the time.” Go figure.
February came and went, as well as March. We still had yet to receive any donations from Ms. Shuman or RFMK. Once April came, I began to become frustrated with the situation and felt Mykayla’s story was being exploited.
Around this time I received an email from a kind woman named Deborah E. She asked if we had received anything from Rapid Fire Marketing because she had purchased a Cannacig that ended up being defective as well. We felt responsible in some way for this woman’s being sold a bad product and we did not even receive a dime from the purchase.
I had enough right then and there and began emailing about it. I received no response for a long time. Cheryl even went as far as saying that she was no longer affiliated with Rapid Fire Marketing and that we would have to take it up with them. I began emailing weekly, usually receiving no responses from anyone.
Tiring of the intentional lack of communication I became very stern. I even recommended that we ask the public for help in recovering invoices. Finally I started getting some response after I became more direct, and let on that I would be public about this situation. After a few more emails, we received a random payment:Our story had been exploited and used to promote Rapid Fire’s Cannacig product, which many consumers disliked and were unsatisfied, and we got a lousy $50 for our troubles. Gee. Thanks. Our family feels that RFMK and Cheryl Shuman misrepresented their personal and company relationships with our family in an effort to benefit their own image and to line the pockets of themselves their investors.
We have learned a lot from this experience and are much more cautious with whom we trust as a result of our experience. We hope others in our same situation do not have to suffer like we did to learn this valuable lesson:
Just Avoid Cheryl Shuman.