Can marijuana help with the extreme pain caused by cancer?

For too many of us, cancer and its treatments (whose aim is to help heal), result in numerous downsides especially—pain! And of course, in my case, feeling really blah and clinically depressed after my monthly injections. 

My metastatic breast cancer to my spine included a fracture at T11 and the pain when I was hospitalized was beyond the 10 on their scale of 1-10! 

While Hydromorphone came to my rescue, I did not want or see this as my long-term solution to pain management. I was being given 50 or more milligrams of the stuff per day. Even awakened in my sleep to take more. 

Once my pain was somewhat under control, I was discharged to my home and here my goal became one of reduction. I was able to manage my pain at a level of 4 by reducing my H-M intake to 14-15 mgs. This was a combination of long acting and fast acting (break through) H-M. 

In month 4 after my diagnosis, I was accepted into the Juravinski Cancer Centre’s COPE study. This study is a first in Canada. It’s an initiative to test the effectiveness of Cannabis for pain treatment for cancer patients. This is a joint initiative by Dr. M. Slaven, at JCC, the government and the cannabis manufacturer, Aurora Cannabis.

It’s CBD capsules with the THC component. The objective is to help patients reduce their dependency on opioids like Hydromorphone, Oxycontin etc. in pain management. It’s a very controlled trial and I’m proud to be patient number 11 in a study that hopes to have some 50 participants. 

I’m equally proud that I can contribute in my small way towards scientific research that will help other cancer patients. I feel like a pioneer of sorts! In a bit of irony, my former colleague when we worked in telecom overseas is now a senior executive at Aurora and this fact increased my confidence in the process. 

The side effects of opioids are quite varied and mine seem to be a brain fog (yes, I know that cancer on its own may cause that effect), drowsiness and forgetfulness. Additionally, reduction in the dosage of opioids can create some negative withdrawal symptoms for some people. And so, if CBD can help me to reduce my H-M intake and help reduce anxiety and depression, it’s a big winner in my book!

The intake of pills is closely monitored and based on my data, the dosages are adjusted weekly. It’s a pill so I’d don’t have to inhale, which I can’t as I’ve never smoked, and I get to contribute to a great initiative! Stay tuned for my updates! 

About The Author

A few months ago, I was told that my boobs are trying to kill me and being misdiagnosed for two years allowed them to recruit throughout the rest of my body by way of my spine. Before this, I knew f*ck all about cancer. Now, between sipping chemo cocktails, I want to talk about the truth of living with Stage 4 Breast Cancer with my support system and people I have met along the way to recovery.

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