Cannabis, medical marijuana, pot, weed (whatever you call it) has all the controversy and the different opinions, the traditional medical world views, the “think outside the box” medical professionals. Wow, I would have never thought that I would ever be where I am today – a certified cannabis nurse. You see, I used to joke and say “I am one of the reasons that marijuana is still illegal in certain states.” Admittedly, my tolerance is low. My paranoia about my body image and my family can be crippling. At one point in my personal life as well as my nursing career, my education and knowledge of the benefits of medical marijuana was very limited, and then I got cancer. Well, in fact, I got cancer again.
After the cancer returned, I returned to the treatment team that had saved my life the first time I had cancer. This round, the treatment plan for my cancer was going to be more aggressive. This second time I was to go through chemotherapy and radiation, as if the scars and deformity of a mastectomy wasn’t enough. This second time getting cancer, I would endure the physical and noticeable body image changes that would be evident to all. Like it or not, fearful of what people thought of me, I had to do this. I would recite several phrases to keep my focus intact. “My life, my children, my mom, me.” I often thought, “God isn’t finished with me yet”. I had to reach deep down to the bottom of my body and soul to beat cancer the second time.
The 16 weeks of chemotherapy were intense. I was allergic to all the nausea medications, the constipation was unbearable, and the neuropathy in my feet combined with restless legs was a pain that I just can’t put into words. I blogged often during my second diagnosis and was so happy to meet other people who had battled cancer, but used an alternative approach to therapy. Cannabis. I read countless research articles, opinions, and support because I never understood the connection to cannabis and treatment, especially as a registered nurse. The thought of losing my career, my license, my identity was more crippling than the chemotherapy, but eventually I had to try something else. If you are a survivor, you know exactly what I am talking about. The traditional medications were not helping me get through my side effects.
At 111 lbs. and emaciated, with burns starting to form under my left arm, and a history of an eating disorder that tore apart my family, I decided to give cannabis and medical marijuana a try. When you are faced with a life altering diagnosis, your philosophy on life, traditional medicine, your career can certainly change. I contacted a Facebook friend in Pennsylvania. He had been posting on my page’s wall, sending me information about medical marijuana. The next step was I needed to know how to get my license here in RI. Then, I contacted a local Rhode Island medical marijuana evaluation center and made an appointment with a physician. You see, cancer is a qualifying condition. I had my medical records forwarded from my oncology team, and met with the cannabis doctor who understood my needs and request for trying something different.