After months.... of putting up with stomach pain, loss of weight and ignoring my friends pleas to see a doctor, even my nursing instincts knew I had a problem, but I was in denial. I thought ”maybe it is an ulcer” and I took many antacids hoping this would eventually ease my problem. I even tried to keep my condition from my husband, as we were in the middle of major renovations to our home and did not want to disrupt his work.
On the 18th Dec 2007 after my gastroscopy procedure I was told the dreaded words.... you have Stomach Cancer. The first words that came out of my mouth were.... How long have I got? I remember feeling calm. I looked over to my husband, Jeff. He had turned pale and became very quiet. Many questions were asked that night.
Our first thoughts were to call our children and tell them the news. They both now lived overseas. Against our pleas not to make the trip back, they dropped all their Christmas engagements and flew home to be by my side and also to support their father.
Over the next few weeks I went through many different tests. The biopsy from the stomach showed it was a rare MALT Lymphoma. (Mucosa-associated Lymphoid Tissue). Treatment regime was antibiotics and to take the wait and see approach over the Christmas period.
Tuesday 26th February 2008. After another gastroscopy, they had found that the cancer loved the antibiotics and the cancer had spread in my stomach from a Low Grade to a High Grade Lymphoma.
Next move was a CAT scan to map out my stomach. I was given four minuscule tattoos as reference markers for my radiation treatment. I couldn’t wait to ring and tell my son-in-law, “I now have tatts”. He has a big Dodo bird on his right arm. I told him I now have four minuscule dodos on my abdomen.
March 12th. I commenced my four weeks of daily radiation. Jeff and I left very early each morning before breakfast for my 7:30 am treatments.
I always felt like I was burning from the inside out after each session. As we drove home I would place Aloe Vera gel to my burn sites to reduce redness and blistering.
Meanwhile I had received a book from my daughter who now lived in Los Angeles, USA.
The book was: “Marijuana Cooking, Good Medicine made Easy” by Bliss Cameron and Veronica Greene. This was a watershed moment.
Over 20 states in the U.S. have legalized medical marijuana. California was the first to do so and has a thriving industry. In Los Angeles there are many medical marijuana dispensaries where clients must present a medical marijuana identification card (MMIC) in order to make purchases. The MMICs are issued by the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) and require a written recommendation from a medical doctor.
If only these clinics existed here in Australia. I had no options, so I discussed my decision to self medicate with my Doctors.
As a nurse I was uncomfortable about taking an illegal drug however, I was in dire straights, my weight had plummeted from around 58kgs to 45kgs I knew I was dying. The stomach pain was excruciating, I could not keep any food down. My whole body mass was badly wasted and the many different medications to treat the pain and nausea was to no avail. My condition continued to get worse. Every day poor Jeff would find me in a fetal position rocking and crying with the pain.
My family were freaking out. They didn’t want to lose me. I remember, as I laid in my bed with the pain so bad, it caused me to look up to the ceiling and say, “You can Beam me up now Scottie”.
A week after my radiation had commenced I decided it was time to try cannabis. A beautiful angel had left some on our doorstep. I decided that the butter rather than smoking would be best for me, as I liked the idea of munching on a chocolate muffin and not filling my lungs with smoke.
While I was resting, Jeff had commenced to make the butter. As the smell drifted up to our bedroom, it smelt like cut grass. I thought, now I know why it is sometimes called grass.
A couple of days later it was ready. I made a few chocolate muffins to begin with. I was still in two minds because of the illegal complications.
Like a nurse I decided to try and quantify the amount I ate. I decided to start with a quarter to a half a muffin every four hours.
My concerned daughter wanted us to Skype her so that she could be with me before I took the first bite of the muffin. She wanted to make me feel safe. It was in the evening when my pain levels were so bad 15/10. “This is it”, I had said to Jeff “forget about the law”. Skype our daughter! As I took a bite, I thought Mmm! not bad, then finished off the full half of the muffin. All of a sudden there was a fuzzy feeling in my head then my whole body felt calm and relaxed. I could feel the pain disappearing, and then suddenly, quite quickly, it was gone. I started to quietly laugh and cry. In its place was a feeling of hunger and craving for some fish and chips. There were smiles all around as Jeff suddenly took off to the local café. It was so wonderful to eat without losing my food.
However, there is a limit to how many muffins I could eat, so after each radiation treatment, I would apply the Aloe Vera gel and eat a slice of toast with one level teaspoon of my “herbal” butter and Promite instead. This allowed me to doze off as Jeff drove us home.
The radiation treatment worked, I was now in remission. With the pain gone, I ceased taking my herbal medicine. There was no desire to continue.
However, a hiccup occurred in late June, I had found a lump on the left side of my neck. Back I went to my Doctor and another battery of tests commenced. Surgery could only remove part of the node as it had adhered to my jugular vein. The biopsy confirmed that I had developed a more aggressive type of cancer known as a “Diffuse Large B cell Lymphoma”
August 20th. I began my chemotherapy. It was another daunting time for me. I was experiencing nausea and severe vomiting. I had lost all my body hair, my smell, taste and developed blisters in my mouth. Also, I had some memory loss. I commenced back onto my herbal butter to get me through this ordeal as all pharmaceutical medications either had a negative effect or contraindicated with each other.
After two months, the chemo treatment was finally over. I ceased my herbal medicine. In the last week in October 2008, I was happily back in remission. I continued for another month on fortnightly Mabthera IV treatment to kill off any stray cancer cells that might be floating around my body.
Was I affected by the radiation/chemo? I certainly was, my stomach had changed…. It’s like I have been lap banded. I now have two pockets. I tell all my friends, one pocket is for my main meal and the other is for desserts.
It is now 2015. I am now in my seventh year of remission. As I look back on this near-death experience I feel so overwhelmed and very grateful with all the amazing support I had received from my family, friends, Gastroenterologist, GP, Oncologists and hospital staff. Last but not least, I would like to thank the beautiful Angel for leaving the special package on our front door step.
If I had not received the book on Marijuana Cooking and experimented, with the butter for medicinal support who knows where I would be today.
I would love to see medical marijuana dispensaries throughout all of Australia. These dispensaries have amazing products that can help relieve many symptoms.
I personally feel that it is time for our Australian Government to legalize medicinal marijuana, and allow the Australian people to have an informed choice on how they manage their health problems with the assistance of their doctors.
Keep Well And Enjoy Life
P.S. A note to Scottie: please cancel all “beam up requests”