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Category Archives: Cancer

    “Eight years ago, Brenda was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was in stage one when they found it.  She underwent the lumpectomy and sentinel node.
    A lumpectomy is where just the tumor is removed as well as the normal breast tissue that closely surrounds the tumor. Sentinel node refers to the removal of lymph nodes under the arm to check for the spread of the disease.
    “They shoot radiation into your breast and they follow it up to the nodes to make sure that you don’t have cancer in your lymph nodes. And I did not, so all I had to have was radiation…and hormone therapy. Because my cancer was fed by the estrogen.”

    Tamoxifen is used to treat certain types of breast cancer that require estrogen to grow. It’s often used following surgery and radiation.
    (Drugs.com can provide more information on this line of treatment.)
    “That’s the drug from Hell, too…the hot flashes were like a hundred times worse. I mean you just break out into a sweat all over. For no reason. I mean 25, 30 times a day. And the radiation…it was..I don’t know…it was a weakening. It didn’t hurt. It was completely painless. You wonder, what are they shooting through your body? But you…can’t feel it. But you can afterwards.”

    Brenda still has scars from the over-spray of the radiation, now, eight years later. It burned her skin. Brenda was lucky that she’s dark skinned.
    After the treatment, “…they were surprised because they said, most of the time, the skin peels away. But I’m part Indian. They said I did very well.”
    One of her breasts is bigger than the other because of the effects of the radiation.
    “After the radiation, it left you very drained. And, so nauseous, you didn’t even want to think about food.”

    Brenda had heard that cannabis was good for treating the nausea following cancer therapy. So she tried it. “…and I could eat my dinner.”
    Maintaining a consistent weight was important. The wasting that follows this kind of treatment can kill just as easily as the cancer it’s self.

    Brenda underwent thirty-five days of radiation. “…Boom, boom, boom.” That’s the deliberate way the treatments went. Then, another type of radiation. “They gave me two different kinds.”
    “If I hadn’t had the cannabis to get through the nauseousness, I would have lost weight and, I don’t know, …who knows what would have happened.”

    “Cannabis gives me a lift. It doesn’t lay me back or anything. I want to do things, and it gave me energy that I didn’t have at that time. I could eat. That was the important thing.”

    Following smoking cannabis, she did have some respiratory irritation, but that was minimal and could have been remedied if she would have known about vaporizers.

    Brenda also suffers from arthritis in her knee and in her hip. In addition, she has chronic pain in her feet and has had surgery in both of them.
    “…I get around real well. Fifty-seven and I still mow the grass. I usually smoke cannabis before I do. It kind of lessens the pain and keeps me going.”
    The anti-inflammatory benefit of cannabis helps her with her arthritic pain. “It takes your mind away; away from your pain.”

     Brenda sums up her feelings about cannabis by saying, “They should let people grow their own medicine if they want to. And it would be so easy. So easy for somebody. Plant a little seed. Get some medicine.”

    Here is my video interview with Brenda:

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    Bill is originally from Rochester, New York.  He’s been a North Carolina resident for the last six years.
    Bill suffers from chronic pain.  He also suffers from what is called an Acoustic Neuroma.    An Acoustic Neuroma is a benign or non-cancerous growth that arises from the 8th or vestibulo-cochlear nerve. The vestibular nerve is responsible for balance while the cochlear is responsible for hearing.  The seventh nerve which is responsible for facial movement is adjacent to the eighth nerve as they pass through the internal auditory canal.
    The cause of Acoustic Neuroma  is unclear.  The gene that causes this condition curiously waits until the afflicted reaches the average age of 48. Acoustic Neuroma affects 2.5% of the population.
    Symptoms include hearing reduction to complete hearing loss, imbalance or unsteadiness, intermittent or constant facial numbness, tingling, tics, or spasms.  As the tumor grows larger or presses on the brainstem, the patient will experience headaches, facial weakness, vertigo, and unsteady gait due to raised intracranial pressure.

Bill suffers from an Acoustic Neuroma

   

    For Bill, one of the most noticeable symptoms is Tinnitus; a reduction in hearing, accompanied by ringing in the ears, or ear noise.  When the “ringing headaches” start, he has to lay down.  The room has to be dark and without noise. 
    Also with Acoustic Neuroma, there is the constant fear that it’s growing.  Presently for Bill, it has stabilized.   

    Bill has taken a great deal of prescriptions and over-the-counter medicines.  He has taken Demerol, Codeine tablets, and a number of non narcotic meds.   The physicians seemed to prescribe everything under the sun, including Prozac.   Anti-depressants are often prescribed for other things than depression.  

    Prozac, or Fluoxetine, the generic, in an antidepressant.  It is approved for the treatment of major depression (including pediatric depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, bulimia nervosa, anorexia nervosa, panic disorder and premenstrual dissphoric disorder.  More than 22.2 million prescriptions were filled in the United States in 2007.
    Side effects include anxiety, decreased sexual desire or ability, diarrhea, dizziness, drowsiness, dry mouth, increased sweating, loss of appetite, nausea, nervousness, stomach upset, trouble sleeping, weakness, rash, hives, itching, difficulty breathing, tightness in the chest, swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue, bizarre behaviour, black or bloody stools, chest pain, confusion, exaggerated reflexes, fast or irregular heartbeat, fever, chills, sore throat, hallucinations, increased urination, joint or wrist aches or pain, loss of coordination, new or worsening agitation, panic attacks, aggressiveness, impulsiveness, irritability, hostility, exaggerated feeling of well-being, restlessness, or inability to sit still, persistent or severe ringing in the ears, persistent, painful erection, red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin, seizures, severe or persistent anxiety or trouble sleeping, significant weight low, stomach pain, suicidal thoughts or attempts, tremor, unusual bruising or bleeding, unusual hoarseness, unusual or severe mental or mood changes, unusual swelling, vision changes, worsening of depression. 

Bill is also a lung cancer survivor.

    There’s not much pharmaceutical medicine can do for Bill.  “They just don’t seem to help,” He’s afraid of narcotics.  He’s been through that.  He knows there’s no future for him with opiates.  He didn’t like how pharmaceuticals could keep him from feeling everyday life. 

    With Cannabis he is able to relax and listen to music, and the headache will go away.  The cannabis helps the anxiety go away too.  Cannabis provides relief for him. 

    Bill is a cancer survivor.  16 years ago, he was diagnosed with lung cancer.  He was fortunate.  He didn’t have to undergo chemotherapy.  But working his warehouse job proved too strenuous for him, what with the Acoustic Neuroma and now, missing part of a lung.  He was forced to go on Disability.

   He tries to live his life as good as he can.  He volunteers at a local hospital, in Raleigh, the Rex Cancer Center.  It’s very rewarding work for him.  Patients come in and he gives them access to printed resource material.  There’s wigs for women who are experiencing hair loss from chemo.  In general, Bill does what he can to lend a sympathetic and understanding ear to anyone who comes in with a need.
    He’s around a lot of people every day that could benefit from cannabis. But he’s reluctant to talk to anyone about it in fear of violating office policy.  He knows that at least he can provide a measure of help to the hurting, but if he was discharged, he would do no one any good.  But it’s still frustrating for him to watch people suffer, knowing that there was something that could relieve their pain and possibly even stop the progression of their cancer.  He sees so many people who are wasting away from the cancer, the chemo, and the radiation.

    Bill believes that, in spite of the cancer and all, he’s lived a fortunate life.  He feels good about giving back to the community, particularly here in North Carolina, his new home.  It’s very rewarding for him to help people.

    Bill takes walks for exercise.  A short time ago, he began suffering chest pains.  He went to see his doctor and, the next thing he knew, he was in the hospital, looking at a stint procedure.  The cardiologist told him very matter of factly how the procedure would go and he didn’t leave room for discussion.  Trusting that the specialist knew far more than he, he agreed to undergo the surgery.
    Now he must take PlavixLipitor, and a diuretic. 
    Diuretics are often given to offset water retention, another side-effect of the prescription drugs.

Plavix is used to reduce the risk of stroke or heart attack in patients who have already had a heart attack or stroke, or have other circulatory problems due to narrowing and hardening of the arteries.  Possible side-effects are easy bruising, minor bleeding, rash, hives, itching, difficulty breathing, tightness in the chest, swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue, bleeding in the eye, change in vision, change in the amount of urine, chest pain, dark or bloody urine, black, tarry stools, unusual or severe bleeding (excessive bleeding from cuts, increased menstrual bleeding, unexplained vaginal bleeding, unusual bleeding from the gums when brushing), loss of appetite, pale skin, seizures, severe or persistent headache, sore throat, fever, speech problems, weakness, unexplained weight loss, yellowing of skin or eyes.

Lipitor  is used to lower high cholesterol and triglycerides in certain patients.  It is used in certain patients to reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke, chest pain caused by angina, or blood vessel blockage.  It is also used in certain patients to reduce the risk of hospitalization for congestive heart failure, or the need for medical procedures to open blocked heart blood vessels.  Possible side-effects are constipation, gas, headache, stomach pain or upset, weakness, rash, hives, itching, difficulty breathing, tightness in the chest, swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue, bone, joint, or tendon pain, change in the amount of urine produced, chest pain, dark urine, fever, chills, persistent sore throat, flu-like symptoms, joint pain, muscle pain, tenderness, weakness (with or without fatigue), painful or frequent urination, pale stools, red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin, severe stomach pain, swelling of the hands, ankles, or feet, yellowing of the eyes or skin.

    Every day when Bill wakes up, he feels like he’s been steamrolled.  The cholesterol medicine just wipes him out.  He doesn’t have much energy.  Certainly less energy than he had prior to the stint surgery.  He’s laying down more than he used to. 
    He was told by his cardiologist at his follow-up appointment, “you have got to do this.”  “You have got to do the Plavix.   You have got to do the Lipitor.”  “You’ll have a heart attack if you don’t take the Plavix. “The stint will close up. ”  “The medicine won’t be activated that’s on the stint”.
    Bill felt like he was sold a bill of goods.  He felt that he had been lock into this.  He knew that he wouldn’t be the same.  “My body has been invaded by surgical steel.”  He just didn’t know that he’d be locked into taking a harmful, debilitating drug for the rest of his life.

    He smokes cannabis on an as needed basis.  He uses it when he “just feels bad.”  It helps him feel better.  It takes away the tired feeling that he gets from taking all the “lifestyle” medications.    He has found that the cannabis helps the prescription meds work better by minimizing the side effects.  
    He suffers no side-effects from dosing with cannabis apart from having an appetite again, something the pharmaceuticals had taken away.  
    Bill’s conversation turns quickly to the people he knows are undergoing chemotherapy.  “It would definitely benefit people who are undergoing chemo or radiation.”
    With Cannabis he gets the same desired affect every time.  With prescriptions he built up a tolerance. 

    Bill believes people should have the choice, especially if they are chronically or terminally ill.  He believes it is everyone’s right to determine how they should manage their pain.  
    He knows it’s tough on everyone when someone becomes chronically ill.  It affects their family; their friends,   He just doesn’t understand why the powers-that-be, the lawmakers can’t see this.  “If there’s a substance that allows people to have relief, make it available to them.  People who need cannabis have to go to the street.  The streets are dangerous.”      

    When asked if he would like to say a few words to his state legislators, he said, “Take a serious look at cannabis as a medical alternative.  Every week I’m moved by patients who could benefit from Medical Cannabis, people who are unable to eat, that are having chronic pain, they’re prescribed a lot of different drugs.  The spirit that these people show is visibly affected by the heavy dose of radiation and chemotherapy.  This is one thing that can help them.  Medical Cannabis.  Please take a serious look at this.  Offer it to people as an alternative.” 
    “My God, ” Bill adds.  “When people are sick, they want something that will help them.  They don’t want to be bombarded by more prescription drugs.  It becomes a quality of life issue.  …people are dying as we speak.  “

    Buddy is 86 years old.  He started in the tobacco business when he was 17.  He didn’t retire until he was 73. A buyer for Kent, Newport and Old Gold, the fast paced, highly competitive world of a tobacco broker was the driving force for most of his life.      

    Buddy outlived his wife by eighteen years.  Now it’s just him and his son Tom.  Tom is his father’s caregiver, now.  Tom is also chronically ill.

    Buddy has been suffering with Neuropathy of the feet for twenty years.  He said that it feels like nails piercing the bottom of his feet.   ” I jus’ never had anything in my life to hurt like this.”

Buddy believes Cannabis could Help Relieve his Chronic Pain.

     Neuropathy encompasses more than 100 diseases and conditions affecting the peripheral nerves-the motor, sensory and autonomic nerves that connect the spinal cord to muscles, skin and internal organs. It usually affects the hands and feet, causing weakness, numbness, tingling and pain.

    Buddy is a veteran.  He served four years during World War II.  He was told that it was probably the long walks packing heavy equipment that lead to his feet problems.

Two recent scientific studies (Headline from 2007) have confirmed what Buddy has found (that conventional narcotics don’t work for his condition) and what he has been told (that Cannabis is effective for Neuropathic foot pain). The following video from the 2004 Cannabis Therapeutics Conference, hosted by Patients Out of Time, features Dr. Donald Abrams, who conducted one of the studies in San Francisco, explaining the protocols for his government sanctioned research.AIDS, Pain & Cannabis, with Donald Abrams   

    Buddy also has Rheumatoid Arthritis.  He’s been ailing with it for 12 years.  
    Rheumatoid Arthritis is a chronic, systemic Autoimmune Disorder that causes the immune system to attack the joints, where it causes inflammation and destruction, and some organs, such as the lungs and skin.
    The stiffness in Buddy’s joints confines him to his easy chair and hopelessly shackle him to pharmaceuticals.  He had to elevate his legs to make it through our interview.

    Buddy has skin cancer across the top of his head and down his back.  Squamous Cell Carcinoma is one of several colored cancerous lesions visible on the surface of his bare scalp.
    Squamous Cell Carcinoma is the second most common cancer of the skin (after Basal Cell Carcinoma but more common than Melanoma). It usually occurs in areas exposed to the sun, and can generally be treated by excision only.”

    Buddy told me that most times, he’d rather be dead.  He quickly adds that he won’t kill himself, but, “…I’d rather be dead.”  The pain he deals with is that intense.
    Over a decade of chronic illness and inefficiently treating it with prescriptions drugs has lead him to this point.  There must be something else.  For Buddy, even the thought of dying is a welcomed relief when faced with the ever growing pain he is experiencing. 

    Buddy and his son Tom are avid readers.  That’s evident from the stacks of books that fill their home.  Decades of captivity to their illnesses has honed their ability to research.  It is that energy that they focused on finding relief from the pain and discomfort they both experience.   
    Though conventional medicine fell short of a solution, one 4,000 year old medicinal herb continually surfaced in their study.  Cannabis.  From what they read, studies had shown that it not only could relieve pain and was a natural anti-inflammatory, but could also be used to increase the effectiveness of conventional medicine so that they could minimize the damage to their livers and digestive systems.     

    Buddy and Tom don’t want to break the law.  They don’t want to live out the rest of their lives in excruciating misery, either.  Buddy says his state legislator won’t listen to him because he’s a Democrat. 
    It seems all too many of our elected officials are out of touch with the chronically ill.  They steer clear of the controversial issues like Cannabis, even when they know that millions of Americans could benefit from this holistic medicine. 
    What’s it going to take?  A hundred testimonies like this?  A thousand?  Just how many more chronically ill Americans must face the fear and indignity of prosecution, even as their very lives are in peril from disease or critical injury.

    To view more of our Medical Cannabis Testimonies, please visit www.youtube.com/cannabispatientnet/ .  We need your Testimony.  Please contact me today about scheduling your interview.  Help us change law through your personal story.

    This first ever Patient Protection Day 2008 was a statewide lobbying event involving medical cannabis patients from Kansas City, Joplin, Columbia, and St. Louis.   

    Dan Viets, representing MO Norml, orchestrated this event and functioned as our Jefferson City Liaison.  An attorney and 30 year veteran in the struggle against Cannabis Prohibition, Dan has been at the forefront of every legislative attempt here in Missouri.  
  

 Dan’s wife is a cancer survivor.

 

    During this day-long event, chronically ill Missourians and their advocates met with Missouri Speaker of the House, Rod Jetton.  Jetton, who blocked their Cannabis Compassion Bill in 2007, was making every effort to block it again for 2008.
    Though Jetton recanted his position while faced with a number of patients in his office, he later killed HB1830 by appointing it to a do-nothing committee too late in the session for it to go anywhere.
    Fortunately for Missouri’s chronically ill, Rod Jetton will not be returning to Missouri’s House in 2009.

 

    Patients presented their testimonies beneath the Rotunda of Missouri’s capital building, as their voices carried up through the adjoining floors above them and the corridors that spidered off from the domed enclosure.
    The stage and sound system were generously provided by the University of Missouri, Columbia.

    Jacqueline Patterson, formerly of Kansas City, conceived this, the first Missouri Patient Protection Day, during a phone conversation she had with Mark Pedersen two weeks prior to the event. She flew in from California to be a part.
    Jacqueline had to move to California or risked losing custody of her children.  Afflicted with Cerebral Palsy and a moderate stutter, she doses regularly with Cannabis to ease her symptoms. 
    Family Services of Missouri does not condone the use of cannabis to treat Cerebral Palsy or any of the other many chronic illnesses that have proven receptive to cannabis therapy.  They continue to adhere to the 70 year old propaganda that blindly condemns cannabis to being a harmful drug and a danger to our nation’s young people.  Apparently, Family Services does not consider “family” to be as important as politics.

 

Jacqueline has Cerebral Palsy

 

    Jacqueline was featured in Showtime’s documentary “In Pot We Trust”.

 

    Aimee has been battling Autoimmune diseases most of her life; Lupus and Crohn’s, to name only two.  In 28 years, she has suffered more than most of us have ever dreamed of. Cannabis has brought her unfailing relief from pain and other symptoms during her many struggles.

 

Aimee battles Autoimmune Disease

 

    Mark Pedersen of St. Louis has been a Cannabis patient for over ten years. He uses Cannabis to treat Fibromyalgia and severe migraines. For the last several years, he has been an advocate for the chronically ill and a proponent for legislative change in Missouri and nationwide.

 

Mark suffers from Fibromyalgia and severe migraines

 

    Since 2006, Mark has been collecting video testimonies from Cannabis patients, their families, and physicians, from across the country, but most specifically in Missouri and North Carolina, where he has been most involved in legislation to benefit the chronically ill.

 

    As the chronically ill step up to take an active roll in ending cannabis prohibition, America has finally been given a face to this terrible injustice.  The hypocrisy that has dominated this political deboggle is dimming amidst the ever growing number of cannabis patients coming forward to tout the benefits of this age old holistic treatment.  

  

 To view all our Medical Cannabis Testimonies, please visit my youtube channel CannabisPatientNet, and to view our legislative reform, go to www.markpedersen.com, www.asawnc.org, and www.gstlnorml.org.

     This video was originally taken at the 2007 Missouri State Norml Conference in Columbia, Missouri. Mr. McVay was one of the speakers.
    There were 300 views on the original youtube video at the time of the update. Better quality equipment and improvements in my feable skill level have allowed for a far better quality audio and video presentation.

Doug McVay is a cancer survivor.

 

    Doug, an activist of “Drug War Facts” fame, is a cancer survivor. He praises Cannabis for improving his chances for recovery by replacing opiates for pain and easing the affects of chemotherapy.

Cannabis maintained his weight during chemo

 
    To view all of our Medical Cannabis Patient   Testimonies, please visit my youtube channel www.youtube.com/CannabisPatientNet , and to view our legislative reform, go to www.markpedersen.com  and www.gstlnorml.org.

    This video was originally taken on July 3rd, 2006 while staying at  Eddy Lepp’s home and ministry headquarters near Upper Lake, California.  It took place at the end of Journey for Justice 7’s cross-country trip. 

Activist Eddy Lepp of Upper Lake, California Part 1of2 

    At the time, Eddy was looking at 4 life sentences, 17 million dollars in fines, and an additional 40 years imprisonment for growing over 50,000 plants, the largest marijuana bust in the history of the DEA.
    Eddy grew Cannabis medicinally for his wife who has battle cancer for much of her life, and for many others suffering from chronic and terminal illness.

Activist Eddy Lepp of Upper Lake, California Part 2of2

    Eddy’s soft spoken words presented a challenge for this novice in lieu of the constant din of activity on the compound.

    To view all of my Medical Cannabis Patient Testimonies, please visit my youtube channel at youtube.com/CannabisPatientNet.  To view my legislative reform, go to www.markpedersen.com and www.gstlnorml.org.