SALT LAKE CITY — Up until about eight months ago, walking wasn’t an option for Enedina Stanger.
For four years, Stanger was in a wheelchair, in constant pain from a joint condition called Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, or EDS.
“Every single joint was affected, they all (dislocated),” Stanger said.
After years of missing out on motherhood, she said she finally found the missing piece to the puzzle to treat her painful prognosis: a concoction of supplements she takes every day.
“It’s a conglomeration of everything in nature I could find — trace minerals — all of these are completely natural,” Stanger said.
One of her daily supplements includes marijuana, under the direction of a caregiver who is licensed to provide cannabis to himself and a select amount of others. Stanger takes high doses of cannabidiol at least two to three times a day, in various forms.
“Indica, edibles, sativa edibles, indica pills, THC CBD capsules,” Stanger explained. “It gets me to where I am functioning again.”
Stanger credits the combination of cannabis and a unique form of chiropractic care for helping her toss all of her prescriptions and park her wheelchair for good.
Dr. Wes Shearer specializes in a practice called applied-kinesiology, using the muscles magnetic fields to reset the body's nervous system.
“It’s really changed my whole body,” Stanger said.
But this new body came at a cost, including having to move her family from Utah to Colorado so she could legally access her drugs.
“Coming to Colorado — it was sad, having to leave Utah, but it really has become a blessing in disguise,” she said.
Aside from uprooting her family, Stanger faces the struggles surrounding the stigma of using a controversial drug.
“Being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and using cannabis in Utah was a huge conflict,” Stanger said — a conflict she said she sees much less of with LDS members in Colorado.
Stranger said the sacrifice of moving her family and leaving her home was worth making to survive.
“No matter how much I’ve been shunned from society in Utah, no matter how much criticism I still get from whoever,” Stanger said, "it works; this works.”
It's working so well for her she's now doing things she never thought possible.
“There’s no denying the fact that I left Utah in a wheelchair. After two years of being here, I’m running races and I’m playing with my daughters because nature works,” she said. “Anything’s possible. If you push hard enough, anything is possible no matter where you’re at."
From swinging from ropes to scaling walls, Stanger is now gearing up for a new goal. She’s watched her husband, Mike Stanger, tackle America’s toughest obstacle course for years. A few years ago, he was inspired to compete on America Ninja Warrior after training to be physically fit enough to care for Stanger, who couldn't walk at the time. Now she’s working to change her title from cheerleader to competitor.
“Am I going to keep training for Ninja Warrior? Yes,” Stanger said. “Am I ever going to make it on the course? We’ll see.”
From wheelchair to warrior, whether it’s running a race or running to get a tissue for her kids, Stanger’s new life is worth living to be a functional part of her family.
“I just wanted to be able to be a mom again,” she said.
On top of pursuing her Ninja Warrior goals, she's also working with lawmakers in Utah and across the nation to change the mindset surrounding cannabis. She hopes one day she can move her family back home to Utah.
“It’s something that patients need everywhere,” Stanger said. “And it’s not an option — it’s a necessity.”