Ten years ago was when I began to experience the longterm negative impact of my cancer treatments. I was hit with a terrible depression and pain in my back that went up through my neck. I’m embarrassed to say I went into my boss’s office and cried. The workplace doesn’t understand mental illness, and neither does it want it. I took time off without pay for my chronic pain and depression.
Nobody ever had the guts to tell me that cancer is forever. When I was diagnosed, everyone was so lighthearted, telling me, “This is just a bump in the road. The treatments aren’t so bad, and then you’ll get on with your life as though nothing ever happened.” I’m sure the braver and tougher of our race has had this experience, but I am neither brave nor tough, and the ride has been anything but easy for me.
When I was going through chemo, my doctor told me “Marijuana might be of help with your nausea, if you can find some.” Of course I couldn’t, because I wasn’t a druggie, and neither did I know any druggies nor drug dealers. He prescribed a synthetic marijuana called Marinol. Marinol is a joke. I’m not even sure how it ever got approved for anything. It’s like a sugar pill except without even the pleasure of the sugar.
If someone had had the guts to point me to where I could have bought some pot, it would have saved me two bouts of percocet addiction and withdrawal, and a bout of coming a thread away from killing myself. It would have saved my body from getting pummelled with up to 20 pills a day. It would have saved at least 20 emergency room visits and a couple of hospitalizations including an unnecessary surgery and countless x-rays, MRI, CAT, and PET scans. It would have saved me thousands of dollars in holistic treatments, physical therapy, and shrink therapy that did nothing for me. Yes, it has been that bad.
I might have had my last ten years back if someone had reached out and advised me on how to obtain marijuana. Yes, I would have risked getting jailed and bought it if I knew how. Every single day I’m thankful for the people who take risks to stand up for medical marijuana. There are many people like me whose lives have been or could be dramatically changed for the better by it — many who are currently suffering but don’t even know that it’s an option. I’m so grateful for my life as it is today. It’s not drug free, I admit that — I still take pills for my depression and anxiety and smoke pot. But now I’m down to the absolute minimum that I need, to be the person I want to be, with no side effects to hassle with. This is the first time in a very long time that the choice of living has been made a viable option for me.
What’s the one piece of advice you wish someone had given you a year (or five, or ten…) ago?