Six days after their first child’s birth, Missy and Derek Fogarty were on their way to New York City from Buffalo. They were headed to Memorial Sloane Kettering Cancer Center after being told that their son, Jackson, had Retinoblastoma, a type of eye cancer. Once there, they were relieved to find out from the doctor that their son did not actually have cancer, but had a rare eye disorder called Persistent Fetal Vascular, which made him blind in one eye.
In January of 2020, they were then instructed to take Jackson to a doctor in Rochester who specializes in this eye condition. Jackson then underwent surgery on his eye and had plans to meet back with the doctor in March to remove the remaining oil in his eye, but the doctor suddenly passed in a skiing accident in Italy. The next closest doctor that could help their son was in Cleveland, Ohio. They were then on the move to Cleveland, while pregnant with their second son.
Then came their son, Gavin, in February 2021. Days after his birth, the two parents began to notice that his skin was becoming more yellow by the day. Their doctor had told them that it was jaundice, a common condition for newborns. “Because of us going through that with Jackson, it was like me and him (Derek) playing that game of like – are we seeing things,” Missy said.
After the doctor told them that Gavin was fine, the parents decided to get his bloodwork done. The results came in and they got a call from the doctor informing them to take Gavin to the hospital. Missy and Derek were beginning to experience paranoia from their experiences with Jackson, prior to his brother’s birth. The family was with Gavin at the hospital for a couple of weeks before they got referred to the Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center.
After multiple hospital visits and wondering what is wrong with their child, Missy and Derek kept getting the same responses from doctors – we don’t know. “For both of our children, I have looked at my husband at one point and asked him – is my son going to live,” Missy said. It took about six months of hospital visits and bloodwork every week during 2021 until Missy and Derek were told that Gavin was anemic and that he would be all right.
Just months later in October 2021, Jackson had gotten sick again. His eye was infected and there was fear that it would lead to his brain. Missy and Derek spent a month away from Gavin while in the hospital with Jackson, resulting in him getting PTSD from hospitals and doctors. The two even spent their anniversary in the hospital.
Finding a Resort for Relief
Being cooped up in different hospitals with their children, the two parents needed a way to decompress. It was through their scarring experiences that Missy and Derek found cannabis a good source to relieve their stress. “If we didn’t have cannabis, we probably would not be here right now,” Derek said.
“We never want our children to go through anything like that again,” Missy said. After all of the trauma that the family endured, Missy began working with Icecycle Buffalo, a cycling event to help raise money for cancer research. She helped create and co-chaired an indoor cycling event to help raise over $400,000 for Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center.
This is not the first time that Derek has had to deal with copious amounts of stress. He served in the Marines, stationed in Afghanistan between 2010 and 2011. After coming home, Derek was stationed in San Diego until 2015. His experiences of serving across seas and coming back home were eye-opening for him.
Coming back to the U.S., Derek dealt with PTSD as he transitioned back to his everyday life. The care that he received during this time was slim to none with The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs offering very little treatment for his PTSD.
With very few people offering their aid, Derek got consumed by different opioids, like many other veterans. “I felt like my insides were rotting,” he said. “The pills literally rewire your brain.” Now six years clean of pills and drinking, Derek strictly consumes cannabis and CBD to help deal with his PTSD.
Pioneering a Platform for ‘Pothead Parents’
After countless hospital visits, hundreds of miles traveled and many tears shed, Missy decided that she wanted to share their story with the world. That is when she began the Pothead Parent Podcast, initially as an Instagram live video made through Garage Band. Being well known in the Buffalo fitness industry, a local saw her video, and then the ball began rolling.
She began speaking with different studio owners in Buffalo and New York City about starting their own platform and the next steps to take. Shortly after, she found a PR agent in California that pushed for them to start their platform, and even got them the chance to meet Snoop Dogg’s son at a Jackie Robinson Foundation event, convincing Derek that the idea of starting the podcast could be a great new chapter for them. They later made a decision that would change their lives forever.
This past Fourth of July, they packed up all their belongings, sold their home in Buffalo within two days and headed west for Las Vegas. Knowing that Vegas has an established cannabis platform and their PR agent is based in California made the decision easy for them to make the move. “As things have gotten better and stress has gone down, it kind of allowed me to take aim at what Pothead Parent is and what we want it to be,” Missy said.
They were inspired to start their podcast with the hope that by sharing their experiences, they can help other parents who are going through similar situations. “We’re just trying to put out there a presence or comfortable place where people can get the education that they need and form their own conclusions of cannabis based on facts,” she said. After posting their first podcast on May 22, introducing themselves to the world, they have posted five other episodes explaining their journey with their children, why they started smoking cannabis, cannabis culture and more.
As they continue to deal with the stress that comes with everyday life, Missy and Derek continue to advocate for cannabis and share their heartfelt, inspiring journey with the world. Their podcast can be found on their website, Amazon, Spotify and Youtube, giving other ‘pothead parents’ a platform that feels like home.