On World Cancer Day, Christine, a stage four cancer patient reflects on how medical cannabis has helped in her journey.
I was first diagnosed with cervical cancer at the age of 30. The diagnosis came with a lot of complications, including being told that I wouldn’t be able to have children, which had a huge impact on my family life.
My husband at the time couldn’t cope and stopped seeing me as a wife and started seeing me as a friend who was unwell. Unfortunately, our marriage ended and after being together for 15 years I felt totally lost and had to rebuild my life knowing I may never have a child.
Miraculously at 36, I found out that I was pregnant.
I had been feeling unwell for about six months prior to this, my periods were erratic, painful at times and barely there at others. I was taking steroids for a severe lung infection that was not getting any better, so I went back to the doctors explaining that I was nauseous, my period had stopped again, and I had lost some weight.
The first thing they did was a pregnancy test, and I was floored when it came back positive. I was in shock, excited, overwhelmed and blown away at this news, I was going to be a mum – something I hadn’t thought possible for six years.
Amidst all this excitement, I couldn’t help but think something else was going on in the background. The doctors dismissed my fears and put it down to anxiety after being told I was unable to have children, so I believed them. Throughout my pregnancy, I felt unwell, I put on the bare minimum amount of weight but when confronting my doctors again, they simply chalked it up to anxiety, or as a result of me being a geriatric mother. A geriatric mother at 36, who knew!
After giving birth to my beautiful daughter 6 weeks premature, my sickness did not stop and I felt sure that something else was going on to cause me to feel so tired, drained and poorly.
After being dismissed by my GP six times and 14 months after my daughter was born, I saw a doctor in the private sector where I was diagnosed, in one week, with stage 4 incurable bowel cancer. As a result, I have had to take various medications and have many surgeries which have exhausting side effects, leaving me feeling weak and completely drained.
It got to the point where, on some days, I just couldn’t get out of bed because the pain was so unbearable. Between the cancer that I had and the peripheral neuropathy as a result of my chemo and radiotherapy, I ended up in tears most days.
I then spoke to a friend and found out about cannabis medicines which could help with being unable to sleep, constantly feeling unwell and hopefully, help me to come off the seven different types of traditional medications I was being prescribed.
I tried to self-medicate for a while, but the ratio was always off and I was concerned about taking the correct amount and not using the right strain, so I consulted a doctor at Integro Medical Clinics who has helped me manage my cancer symptoms and all the side effects that come with it.
Taking medical cannabis allowed me to get on with my life, look after my daughter and even marry my now-husband. I noticed a significant change for the better, I am no longer having to take multiple conventional medicines, which means I am not suffering from the draining side effects anymore.
The doctor I chose to work with at Integro Medical Clinics was Dr Anthony Ordman. He helped me, and continues to help me, through every step of the way. He works with my oncologist, and this meant that I was able to stop taking fentanyl, diazepam and sleeping tablets. I also found that the cannabis medicine gives me an appetite throughout the day and now I actually enjoy my food.
I recently found out that the cancer has spread further throughout my body and have started on aggressive chemotherapy, surgeries and radiotherapy treatments to tackle it.
The chemotherapy has taken its toll on me, from the very first day and left me feeling extremely unwell, sick and dizzy and unable to focus. I completely lost my appetite and could barely eat at all, let alone enjoy food. From day one I had been feeling discombobulated and disorientated with different pains coming and going throughout my body.
I’ve also been having hot flushes and a dry cough throughout the day. I was struggling to sleep at night and when I did manage to sleep, I was having really strange dreams and waking up feeling my whole-body ache. I restarted the medical cannabis after a week, and immediately felt the benefits even while being on such an aggressive chemotherapy treatment.
After that first week, I was able to take my dose of medical cannabis in the morning and was able to eat a whole piece of toast with butter and marmalade, and I actually enjoyed it. I started to get my appetite back and was able to take a full dose of the cannabis medicine at night and slept for 10 hours. The following morning was the first time I hadn’t thrown up.
I believe that medical cannabis can have a positive impact and help sufferers ease their pain and manage their conditions whilst being able to get on with their lives.
I started a blog to document my journey and let those who are going through something similar know they are not alone. If you’re interested in learning more about how cannabis-based medicines helped me, I encourage you to read my blog here, and if you’d like to chat, feel free to send me a direct message on Instagram @CancerCannabisAndMe.
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