When Sheriann Baker was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer in 2017 doctors told her she could have just two years to live. Three years on she’s tumour free and she claims it’s all down to Rick Simpson oil; a high-THC cannabis oil.
“I’m not going to die of cancer,” says Sheriann Baker, speaking to Cannabis Health from her home in Toronto, Canada.
“I honestly believe I will lead a full life.”
She’s pretty confident, for a woman who three years ago had a tumour the size of a golf ball on her brain and was given – worst case scenario – two years to live.
Sheriann had suffered from migraines since the age of five and as an adult could experience up to 20 severe episodes a month, but she was always prescribed painkillers and the cause was never explored further.
It was June 2017 when Sheriann, then 46, was staying with a friend in British Columbia that she realised something was seriously wrong.
“That morning I had experienced this overwhelming smell of burnt tar,” she remembers.
“We went out to a parade and I started to feel really strange. My left foot was fine, but as I stepped down on my right foot, it was like stepping into a pool of water.
“By the time we got to the car I was completely paralysed. I couldn’t get my brain to tell the rest of my body to move.
“My girlfriend drove me to the hospital and got me admitted – and that’s the last thing I remember.”
Sheriann had suffered an eight minute grand mal seizure, which doctors initially thought was caused by a stroke. Three months later in August, following an appointment with her neurologist, an MRI scan showed the tumour.
“At 46-years-old I was told that I had five to 10 years to live at most,” says Sheriann.
“If I didn’t do chemotherapy and radiation, I would most likely die within two years.”
She continues: “That’s where my research started.
“I’ve always been very against chemotherapy and radiation, I know a lot of people who have died from cancer and told me how brutal it is, if I’ve only got a few years left, that’s not a way I want to live.”
A year earlier, Sheriann had lost a good friend, who had begun using Rick Simpson oil (RSO) – cannabis product known for containing higher levels of THC – after he was diagnosed with lung cancer.
Rick Simpson claims to have cured his metastatic skin cancer in 2003 by using the high grade hemp oil, which is said to include a particular type of cannabis called Cannabis indica, which produces a sedative effect that helps the body heal. The oil is not a branded product – there are various versions available and Simpson’s own website even explains how to make his namesake oil.
Sheriann’s friend sadly passed away from a splint rupturing his lung, but the autopsy is said to have revealed that he was cancer-free.
“That’s when I just knew, I was 150 percent convinced that I needed to try cannabis oil,” she says.
A few months later, Sheriann underwent a six-hour brain surgery. Doctors warned her they wouldn’t be able to remove the whole tumour and three percent was left behind.
She recovered quickly, leaving hospital after 26 hours and two months later was almost completely healed.
“I told my doctors I was using cannabis oil, it’s really important that patients tell their doctors because it can lower your blood pressure,” she says.
“Thankfully they were fantastic and couldn’t believe how great I looked afterwards. I woke up feeling so grateful to be alive and so positive because I had that confidence in the oil.”
A few months later a follow up MRI scan showed that the remaining three percent of the tumour had gone, she says.
“I still have brain cancer, but the cannabis is keeping the tumour from growing back.”
She adds: “It’s now three years later and I feel amazing, my blood work, cholesterol, everything is above average.”
Sheriann continues to take one to two tablets a day of RSO (of 70-75 percent THC and above) mixed with frankincense drops and coconut oil and also eats a completely ‘clean’ diet, cutting out red meat, dairy, carbs, fats and sugar and living mostly on homemade juices.
After she decided to share her journey on social media shortly after she was diagnosed, she is now a full-time influencer and spends her days engaging with and educating her 20,000 followers.
“I have talked to thousands of people around the world who have fought and won against cancer using cannabis oil – every day I get probably five to 10 people reaching out to me,” she says
“We’re saving our own lives and other people need to know about it.”
While she dedicates a lot of her time to raising awareness about the potential benefits of cannabis oil, she is careful not to force it on others
“I’ve lost friends to cancer who weren’t using the oil and it breaks my heart, but you can’t push it on people, you have to let them do their own research and make that decision,” she adds
“People are just afraid, they have been told all their life that it’s a bad drug, they don’t realise the medical benefits.”
RSO was not included in the legalisation of cannabis products in Canada in 2018, due to its high concentrate of THC.
Following a 1975 study which showed THC and other cannabinoids to have a reducing effect on the growth of cancer cells in mice, a number of other studies have been carried out to examine their effectiveness, including a few early-stage trials on humans.
However, much larger and longer term trials are needed to provide conclusive evidence.
“I show all my scans and medical reports online and have even gone to Health Canada, but haven’t had a response from them,” says Sheriann.
“I do get angry about it and I’m not scared to say things online, I’ll take that chance. If they want to throw me in jail with terminal brain cancer, all power to them.”
Several high profile cannabis growers and producers have reached out to Sheriann to donate oil and she was even invited to speak at a national neurologists conference in Toronto earlier this year (which was unfortunately cancelled due to covid).
She laughs: “I couldn’t even believe it when I got invited, I’m just a Canadian girl who started living this lifestyle and am winning because of it.”
Ironically, Sheriann says the three years since she was diagnosed with cancer have been the best of her life.
“When you get the diagnosis, your whole life changes, but I wouldn’t change it for anything,” she says.
“I’ve had people unfollow me because they are in a place where they can’t see the light, but people with cancer can still be happy and have a life.
“I really believe that seeing the positive in everything is a huge thing.”
Sheriann adds: I remember the first time I went into hospital, I was sitting with all these other cancer patients, and they’d all given up.
“I’m not giving up, that’s not me. You have to be as positive as you possibly can until the end.”
Ireland to fund patient’s medical cannabis up front
Campaigner Vera Twomey described “relief” that her determination has finally paid off.
Campaigner Vera Twomey has described her “relief” as the Irish Government agrees to fund medical cannabis patient’s prescriptions up front.
Eligible medical cannabis patients in Ireland will now have their medication paid for up front, after months of pressure on the Government from campaigners.
Health Minister Stephen Donnelly announced on Monday 19 July that the refund system for patients who obtain their prescribed cannabis-based products from the Netherlands, will now be replaced by a direct payment system.
The HSE will pay the dispensing pharmacy in the Netherlands directly, rather than the burden falling to the patients and their families, who were then required to apply for a refund.
Vera Twomey, whose daughter Ava Barry, 11, has a severe form of epilepsy known as Dravet syndrome, is among 40 patients who have now been granted an individual ministerial licence to import Bedrocan oil to Ireland.
But the family were paying 10,000 Euros up front every three months for Ava’s prescription and waiting up to five weeks for it to be refunded.
Twomey, who has four other children, has previously spoken of the huge financial strain this system placed on her family.
Over the last 16 months she has relentlessly called for action, making dozens of phone calls daily to politicians and lobbying ministers on social media with the backing of thousands of supporters in Ireland and across the world.
Twomey, who received a phone call from Ireland’s Prime Minister, Micheál Martin on Monday confirming the news, says she is “delighted” that her determination has finally paid off.
“There’s a sense of relief that we have accomplished this, but also a little bit of shock because we have been trying to resolve it for so long,” she told Cannabis Health.
Twomey’s activism gained national attention in 2017 when she walked from her home in Cork to Leinster House in Dublin to ask former Health Minister Simon Harris to grant access to medical cannabis for her daughter.
Initially having to travel to the Netherlands to collect the prescription herself, during the pandemic Twomey successfully campaigned to secure the permanent delivery of Bedrocan oils for Ava and other patients.
Now she says she is looking forward to focusing on her family and putting the phone down for a while.
“I don’t think anybody who has gone through this fight, seeing the injustice that we have had to deal with could ever walk away,” she said.
“But at the same time, I’ve made a lot of sacrifices and for the moment at least, I need to give 100 percent to my other children, to do normal things and be a family.”
But the fight in Ireland isn’t over.
The Irish Government announced the provision of funding for the Medical Cannabis Access Programme (MCAP) in January – almost two years after it was introduced – but only four low dose cannabis-based medicines are covered by the programme, for people living with one of three qualifying conditions.
“There are other issues – we still need expansion and improvement in medical cannabis access, the journey is over by any means, but we’re at the beginning and getting Bedrocan recognised as a medicine that is funded up front is very important.
“I think the Irish are actually miles ahead of the British on this one and I hope [politicians] will take notice and catch up.”
She added: “The greatest gift you’ll ever receive is to lose your fear, then you can accomplish anything with focus and determination.
“If you have the determination to keep going you will get there. It’s not going to be easy, they are not going to make it easy but it can be done.”
Patients eligible for the direct payment system are those suffering from one of three stated conditions; spasticity associated with multiple sclerosis, intractable nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy and severe, refractory (treatment-resistant) epilepsy.
The HSE says it will be contacting patients directly.
Health Minister, Mr Donnelly, commented: “I am delighted that the HSE and Transvaal Apotheek in the Netherlands are implementing a new process which will give peace of mind to the seventeen patients and their families who until now have been using the refund process.”
Kanabo’s cannabis vaporiser for metered dosing launches in UK
The VapePod will give thousands of UK patients access to pain relief in a metered dose.
Cannabis company Kanabo’s new extract formula and vaporiser will give thousands of UK patients access to pain relief in a metered dose.
UK patients will be the first in Europe to have access to Kanabo’s vaporiser, the VapePod, and its new extract formula when is it delivered later this month.
The deal, in conjunction with LYPHE Group, will see patient’s of LYPHE Group’s ecosystem, including The Medical Cannabis Clinic and Dispensary Green, able to access the VapePod under the brand name NOIDECS.
Under the agreement, PharmaCann and Kanabo established a customised production line for Kanabo’s VapePods cartridges.
An alternative to cannabis flower
The VapePod is a medical-grade, handheld vaporiser which enables accurate and precise micro doses of cannabis extract, dispensing 1mg of formula for each inhalation.
This will benefit to patients as inhaling extracts rather than tinctures and oils allows for faster onset and higher bioavailability.
It will also allow clinicians to more confidently prescribe and monitor a patient’s dosage, as well as providing more accurate patient data.
Previously, cannabis patients in the UK have only been able to access medical cannabis dry flower and oil tinctures for which the majority of patients consume via inhalation due to fast onset time.
Kanabo’s medical line aims to enable patients to move away from the harmful act of smoking medical cannabis flowers as they can now take their medicine without inhaling soot, tar and carcinogens into the lungs.
Avihu Tamir, Kanabo’s CEO, said: “The VapePod is a world first allowing specialist consultants to prescribe a metered dose of medicinal cannabis that is healthier for patients than the alternative, which is typically smoking.
“Medical cannabis is a safer alternative to the conventional opiate solutions and other pain management treatments. This announcement ensures that thousands of UK patients have access to the most effective medicinal cannabis delivery system.
“The fact that the VapePod gives exactly 1mg on every inhalation is crucial for GPs because they can prescribe an exact dose which they haven’t been able to do before. For patients who want the similarity to smoking but know they are not inhaling soot and tar. There’s also the bioavailability factor too.
“The reason GPs haven’t been prescribing is the issue of dosing and flowers – they don’t feel comfortable asking patients to smoke. With Kanabo, they can prescribe exact dosing in a safe and consistent way.”
The medical extract formula, which is based on the Israeli medical cannabis pharmacopoeia as a recommendation for the treatment of pain management, has a purity of 70 percent THC with 15 percent minor cannabinoids and terpenes.
Earlier this year Kanabo became the second cannabis company to list on the London Stock Exchange.
Dean Friday, LYPHE’s CEO commented: “Kanabo are experts in novel delivery with their VapePod greatly improving onset times, and for our chronic pain patients we now have an alternative to flower vaporisation. This is the start of a revolution in medical cannabis application and we are delighted to be supplying it under the NOIDECS brand.”
Cancer survivors turn to cannabis for physical and mental health – study
Cancer survivors are more likely to use cannabis to help pain, anxiety, sleep and nausea.
Cancer survivors are frequently using cannabis to manage physical and mental health symptoms, says a new study.
Research from the US indicates that cancer survivors are more likely to use cannabis for symptoms such as pain, anxiety, trouble sleeping and nausea.
A team of investigators analysed results from a Covid-19 cannabis health study to examine changes to cannabis use, methods of cannabis delivery, and coping strategies among cancer survivors since the pandemic.
They found that individuals with a history of cancer are more likely to report cannabis use to manage mental health and pain symptoms.
This group of people were also more likely to report fear of a Covid-19 diagnosis, compared to adults without a history of cancer.
Data was collected from 158 responses between 21 March 2020 and 23 March 2021, from cancer survivors who identified as medicinal cannabis users.
These were then compared to medicinal cannabis users without a history of cancer of the same age.
According to the study, cancer survivors were more likely to report using cannabis as a way of managing nausea/vomiting, headaches or migraines, seizures, sleep problems or as an appetite stimulant.
Sixty one percent of respondents with a history of cancer used cannabis to manage anxiety symptoms and 54 percent for chronic pain.
Forty eight percent said they used it to manage depressive symptoms and 25 percent for PTSD, while smaller numbers used it for symptoms of another autoimmune disease, and irritable bowel syndrome.
While there were no differences in how often they used cannabis or their method of administration, cancer survivors were “more likely to have an advanced supply of cannabis”.
The findings support the need for more conversations between doctors and their patients about the use of cannabis, say those behind the study.
The authors concluded: “Overall, we observed that cancer survivors are frequently reporting the use of cannabis to manage both physical and mental health symptoms associated with their cancer diagnosis and that cancer survivors are more likely to report fear of a Covid-19 diagnosis compared to those without a history of cancer.
“Given the frequency of mental and physical health symptoms reported among cancer survivors during the Covid-19 pandemic period, clinician–patient interactions should include questions around cannabis use, particularly those with a history of cancer.”
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