When I was in high school I hung out with a group of people that, let’s just say, didn't shy away from smoking some weed. I, however, didn't want anything to do with it. I didn't like the smell or the idea of getting high. There is no real reason why I thought that but I just felt like it was not for me. As the years went by, specifically in the last five years, more and more information has surfaced regarding how it can help medical conditions which opened my mind, and lightened my view on marijuana.
When I was given a stage 4 cancer diagnosis I felt completely out of control. I frantically started seeking out alternative and complimentary things I could do to help heal. Improving my diet was the first thing to come to mind, even though for the most part I eat pretty well. The information about the types of alternative therapies is very overwhelming! There are so many different options. A friend brought to my attention marijuana to help with the side effects from the treatments I would be getting; nausea, lack of appetite, troubles sleeping and even the anxiety that goes along with a cancer diagnosis. There was also a possibility of using it as a treatment as well, as there are some beginning studies that show the promise of the oil acting to reduce tumours. As soon as I started reading more about it I deeply felt this was the option for me. Again, and I am sure I will say this a million times, I have a great support team and as soon as I said the word that I wanted to try cannabis my girls jumped into action and helped me get information. They found out what paper work I needed and helped me fill out a ton of forms. I don't think my friend Megan will ever let me live down that I asked her to help me fill out 10 pages of information and it turned out to be 10 pdf’s that equaled about 30 pages! Really though, as if she didn't want to spend the afternoon with and find out way too much personal information about me! We contacted Medi-Green in Perth, they helped with every step, getting me information and setting up appointments.
I want to be very clear that the rest of this post is how it helped me, my experience and in no way am I giving medical advice.
During one of my first oncology appointments I brought up that, in combination with my "traditional" treatment of chemotherapy, radiation and surgery I would also like to take cannabis as well. Even though my oncologist does not prescribe cannabis he was very open to me taking it. He openly said that he has not researched it himself and really didn't have an opinion on how it works but assured me that it would not poorly interact with what he planned unlike some alternative therapies. He also felt that having me feel in control of a part of my treatment would, on its own, be beneficial. In consultation with my Dr. I agreed completely with the treatment plan he laid out for me and also trusted that he had my best interest in the forefront of his mind. He also assured me that he would be honest every step of the way, and if there was ever a time that my treatment changed from curing me, to maintaining my quality of life he would clearly let me know. The following week I started a very aggressive chemotherapy. My doctor asked if I could do one round without the cannabis. Then he would have a bench mark of how I handled the treatment on my own. I was so nauseous within a half an hour of starting the 4 plus hour outpatient chemotherapy. I was given a steroid to help settle the nausea but it didn't touch it. I came home with a low dose chemo pump on for an additional 48 hours. That first night I was so sick. I was up multiple times throwing up. I couldn't eat and could barely drink even water. The next day I called my doctor and he had me come back into the hospital for hydration so I didn't get too depleted. The rest of the week, even after the pump was removed, the side effects were still a lot to deal with. Fatigue, nausea and a complete brain fog made it hard to even think. Worst hangover ever! Round two I had the vaporizer and my oil was on order. I couldn't believe the difference! I had two different strains of cannabis, a THC strain to help with nausea and sleeping and a CBD strain that helped with pain and ease my sore muscles. You can't use the vaporizer in the hospital but as soon as I got home I used it and it calmed everything immediately. I was so thankful because throwing up is the absolute worst thing to me and the fact that, if I had a wave of queasiness, I could take a couple puffs of the vaporizer and it took it away was amazing.
My oil came a day or two later and I started it orally in a very small amount. Now l had no tolerance what so ever! I did have a day where felt high but compared to the brain fog the chemo gave me I would much rather be high. I think it was day two of taking the oil where it hit me a little more and I just had a day where everything was so funny for no reason. I remember having dinner with the kids and Daryn was telling me about his day and I couldn't help but laugh, a lot, and then I couldn't stop. It was the typical power laughing stereotype. The more I tried to stop the harder I would laugh, then the kids started laughing at me. Daryn blurted out "wow mom I didn't realized you thought I was so funny!" I mean, I do find Daryn hilarious, but in this instance I think it was more the oil then his funny story. When I went in for my follow up from my second round I did tell my doctor how much it had help with the side effects. The only nagging issue was cramping in my stomach. He wanted to give me a CT to see what was going on. He made sure to tell me that even though they would be able to see the spots of cancer they had found, after two rounds of chemo it was way too early to see any effect it would have. The CT showed that I had colitis which was inflammation of my bowel. This is a side effect of the type of chemo I had. He decided to give me extra time to heal before doing another round. His face lite up after that and he said "I also see on the scan that there is noticeable shrinkage to the tumors"!! I couldn't believe it, the usual number of chemo treatments it takes to see a result is 4-6. My friend Tamara had been with me all day and we were both just so so happy. My nurses were coming in and giving me hugs which just confirmed to me how awesome this was. After having a bit of a break, treatment day for round three came and I had been taking the cannabis oil for 3 full weeks. I had switch my way of taking it to suppository for a couple reasons, first it totally stops any head high I was getting, even though I was a source of humour for family and friends it was not practical, and secondly, by giving it as a suppository it was exactly where my main tumor was so it would be a topical application as well. They altered the dose of chemo round three a little because of how hard it was on my system but the difference with me taking the oil was unbelievable! Even though I still had the motion sick feeling the whole time I was getting chemo as soon it was done the nausea was gone, I ate on the way home and I slept through the night. One of the other side effect I had, whether from chemo or the steroids I had to take, was a raised heart rate and a difficult time sleeping while I had the pump on. Because I slept so well after my third round of chemo with the oil, the fatigue I experienced with the other rounds was considerable less and the fogginess was hardly there.
I did a 3 month cycle of a high dose cannabis oil as an alternative therapy and used the leaf form to vaporize for side effect relief. I also use the cannabis oil in the hospitals after my surgeries as well for pain relief and vaporized the CBD strain for pain control when I got home. My first surgery was my liver resection and I had morphine for pain relief and it made me so sick that I couldn't keep anything down. I switch to my cannabis oil and when I was release from the hospital was not on any other pain medications. The second surgery was my colon resection and I opted out of taking any pain medication but took my cannabis orally for pain control and to help me sleep. I tapered off taking it after that surgery because I could not take the suppositories until my colon healed. I still took a very low dose at night to help sleep because I was so uncomfortable. The last surgery was on my left lung. I bounced back very well even though this was supposed to be a very painful surgery. I left the hospital after 2 days and was grateful that I could be home where I was more comfortable and can sleep. I was getting stiff muscles and some muscle cramping about 5 days after surgery because most of my muscles had been cut through. I used the CBD in my vaporizer to calm and relax them and it worked great.
I have one more surgery to go for my right lung and hopefully flip my ileostomy back. Every surgery has been so different so I go in with an open mind and I don’t assume it will be easy. I know they all have their own challenges but I will have my cannabis along with me.
At this point, and after reading some others criticise KGH, I have to say the hospital has never had a problem with me using my cannabis oil! I brought the bottle with all the information on it to my pre-surgical screening. They charted how much I took and what times. I self administered it in the hospital making sure I told the nurse what times I took it so they could keep track. I even had the head of the pain management department spend a few hours talking to me about my experiences with it. She was very interested in learning more about it. I will be doing a lower dose of chemotherapy after my last surgery. I'm not completely sure at this point for how long. My plan is to do another high dose 3 month cycle of the cannabis oil in combination with my chemo. There is no medical testing that has been done on me to see what the cannabis is or isn't doing but all I know is that I am not on any other medication and my doctors are very happy with how fast I have healed and how well I am dealing with all of the major steps that have been taken. I am grateful everyday with how well this journey has been going so far and I do believe that for me the cannabis leaf and oil have helped every step of the way.