In 2013, when a visit to the emergency room turned into an appointment at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill’s Hematology Unit, Kim DeLaney-Surratt’s life was turned upside down. She was diagnosed with a rare blood disease, amyloidosis, complicated by multiple myeloma, a form of bone marrow cancer. In 2014, after nine months of treatment, she underwent a stem cell transplant and discovered the power of CBD (cannabidiol) oil. It offered her relief from the side effects of chemo, back pain and gastrointestinal issues. She wanted to find a way to help others who were struggling with illness and give them relief on their journey to healing too, so she and her husband created My Green House CBD — a dispensary — in 2017, and two years later, they opened their storefront in Concord, North Carolina. We’re honored to introduce you to today’s FACE of the South, Kim DeLaney-Surratt.
In layman’s terms, how do you explain what CBD is and the misconceptions behind it?
Think of it like greens — you have your mustard greens and your collards, right? You have all your greens, but it is the same at the end of the day. That’s what cannabis is. Hemp is just one of the strains. You can get CBD from hemp, or you can get it from marijuana, but it’s all cannabis.
Why did you want to open up a CBD store?
My husband and I started looking at cannabis and its healing properties back in 2013 or 2014, when I was first diagnosed with the autoimmune disease. I have a rare blood illness called amyloidosis that we call “AMY” for short. It’s kind of like the cousin to multiple myeloma. You always hear things about cannabis, but there are some healing properties because it is a natural drug. The FDA hasn’t really done a lot of research to allow those properties to be known. So I did extensive research for about two years, trying to understand the difference between cannabis, hemp and CBD. Seeing how other people’s bodies responded — who had specific illnesses — is what made us say “let’s try it.” So, in 2017, we started a website. And then it was me that was dragging my feet, wondering how Cabarrus County (outside of Charlotte) was going to accept us. We are a minority-owned business doing something that’s a little taboo. They have actually been really great! The physical store opened up in March 2019.
How has having AMY changed your outlook on life and the way you run your business?
I went to my oncologist appointment because I have to get my blood work done every six weeks because I’m purposely not on chemo, and I was having a conversation with a receptionist that I see all the time. She was commenting on my bracelet, which represents healing, and she said she could feel the energy from it. I think it’s because I’m on a journey and it’s almost like those types of people — we attract each other. I think that’s so weird! Like how did I not see that kind of person before? But now I see them all the time. For her to feel comfortable enough to say to me, “I feel your vibration …” Right? So I’ve become a bit hippie-dippy. The bandage where they drew the blood was above my bracelet and I said, “If I wouldn’t have gotten sick, then I wouldn’t have gotten here.” I’m not saying that cancer is a blessing, but it just made me see things so much differently. My relationship with God got deeper; it’s so much stronger. Even my relationship with my family got deeper. It’s also me just kind of wanting to understand natural medicine more — how food and other things replenish our bodies. I am building trust and a legacy. I want customers to feel safe taking our products; I want my family to believe in our mission and understand the depth of what it means to help people and create a genuine, long-standing brand.
You have two kids — Harper Grace is 4, and Zion is 15. How do you talk to them about everything you are still going through?
Nobody even goes with me to my doctor’s appointments because I want to keep them removed from it. My son Zion and I can have a conversation, even about the business. It’s a product that he understands and he believes in. He even said to me, “If you wouldn’t have gotten sick, do you think we would be working in CBD?” My answer was that I’d never thought about it. But, he’s in 10th grade, and I want him to just be a kid. My 4-year-old doesn’t really know what’s going on, but she knows CBD and understands that part of it.
You were diagnosed with AMY before you had your 4-year-old. How was the experience of finding out that you were expecting?
I had just come out of the treatment for my stem cell transplant and my hair was gone, my menstrual cycle was gone and my immune system was stripped. I even had to get all of my childhood shots re-done. I was 34 at the time, and the doctor said, with my age, I would probably never conceive again. There wasn’t enough research since what I have is so rare. I went back to work and finally got my cycle back. The doctor had just started me on chemo when I found out I was pregnant. He said we had to stop treatment but he didn’t say I couldn’t have her. He just kept asking if I was sure. I figured if God gave me this, He knows what He’s doing. So Harper’s middle name is Grace because God gave me this blessing because He knew I wanted two kids. She’s here, and she’s fine.
On your healing journey, you began clean eating — making the transition to eating vegetarian food. Do you have a favorite Southern dish?
My homemade mashed potatoes, courtesy of my Instapot, with a vegan twist.
What is the best advice you have ever received and from whom?
When I first moved to Charlotte, I actually started an event planning company. My business partner at the time — I remember he said to me, “We have to fake it until we make it.” We landed some pretty big contracts that we probably should not have. People trusted us before even knowing the caliber of our work.
Aside from faith, family and friends, what are three lighthearted things that you can’t live without?
Yoga, my CBD and gospel music, all of which keep me grounded.