"Cancer you have taken so much from me, but you have given me so much back, Thank You"

I’m not a genius of American history by any means, but you do not have to be to know of the struggles during the times of segregation, where the right to marry within the same sex was unlawful, when prohibition led to the  bootlegging industry, and when “the morning after” pill was put on the market as “just in case” measures to prevent unwanted pregnancy.  So today I bring to the table the controversy over medical marijuana.

I always stated that I would be real and true in my journal, but I have not due to judgement, perception and my position as a master prepared registered nurse.  Through my life events that date back to years before my first diagnosis of breast cancer I was afraid you might not like me.  In some way I might get in trouble.  That maybe I would not be able to find work in my field, and then I had this epiphany that it didn’t matter.  Many people in this world have died and/or been tortured for their beliefs, but in the end they broke barriers to where we are today.  It is about education, education, education.

Martin Luther king Jr, Rosa Parks, Mother Theresa, John F. Kennedy, Brown versus the board of education, the Gay Rights Movement, there are so many others, these are just to mention a few and by no means am I comparing myself to the caliber of this level, but it is about life.  For those of you who saw the new reality show “Utopia”, people just can’t get along.  I will tell you of an incredible bond though, CANCER.  It’s not about judgement, but it is about looking at your life and thinking about your death. Whether you want to hear it or not, death is easier.  People have an empathy towards you.  It forces people to look inward for a moment, but unless it is in YOU, again you just wouldn’t understand.

So I have decided to provide some education today that can cause professional suicide, but it might provide enlightenment to someone struggling with an illness or someone on the outside looking in.  I use medical marijuana.  I was given medical marijuana as an alternative form of medicine when after chemotherapy and during radiation I was down to 111 lbs.  I was in fear of triggering a relapse of my eating disorder which I was in recovery for.  After losing my children to the disease, finding a place of peace and healing, I was confronted with breast cancer.  I beat all the statistical odds at Dana Faber that after my mastectomy I had a 4% chance of recurrence.  The average woman has a 12% chance of breast cancer, so I was very optimistic.  Not for long though, 18 months later my breast cancer was back.  Same side as my mastectomy and this time Grade III, both invasive and noninvasive.  The treatment plan this time was chemotherapy and radiation.

I was so sick, but managed to work through the side effects.  The nausea was endless, the weight loss starting kicking in at the end of chemotherapy and definitely through radiation the weight loss was taking over.  A caregiver reached out to me from Pennsylvania. His name was Steven Placek. I was nervous, and was curious if this could really help me because my perception at the time was probably like that of the majority, but I learned more and became a medical marijuana patient.  I have been able to maintain my weight at 125 lbs, I have had a decrease in the pain and numbness of my neuropathy, and my anxiety and insomnia has been in better control.  Medical marijuana is making it’s way into hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living communities.  The face of marijuana is changing right before us.

There are towns, cities, states, fighting the cause and use of medical marijuana.  There are those who say it is a gateway drug.  There are those who insist it is just about people having the legal right to walk around “stoned”  all the time, but there is so much education that is needed.  If I told an employer or friend that I was on Percocet or Fentanyl Patches for pain, I would be respected, but marijuana just invades the mind of those who are uneducated and adamant regarding change.  Your percocet has more street value than my flower ever could, your percocet (opiates) can lead to addiction, flower is not addictive, your percocet is in the same class as heroin, and your local pharmacies are working with legislature to make Narcan available to those who overdose…. last I checked you cannot overdose from marijuana.

So become educated and well versed before you make judgments.  Understand that there are strains of marijuana.  Understand that there are edibles, salves, butter, tincture, flower, and a world of medicinal purposes for medical marijuana.  Anything can be abused. We abuse each other, alcohol, prescription drugs, sex, gambling, power, and many other layers of addiction.  Just think, become educated, and do not judge, as we all have a story, we all have the right to live in a world of compassion and dignity where hatred will not be tolerated.


Monique Pichette MSN, RN

Patient Outreach Coordinator

Greenleaf Compassionate Care Center