So I wrote a couple of years ago about my sister and her cancer diagnosis. Or more specifically, our emotions as we tumbled through it.
Anyone dealing with cancer, whether personally or a loved one, knows the tumultuous roller coaster we ride. It’s a doozy.
I’m happy to report that after chemo and radiation, her metastatic lung cancer is under control. She’s actually in remission! And her recent blood markers were in fact better.
So we’re pretty happy!
As you know, when going through these awful times, they include not only the sadness, horror, fear—all the negative emotions—but also intervals of sweetness and love and even laughter.
Near death brings all of our emotions to the fore.
And while I hear stories of uncaring oncologists all the time, that hasn’t been my experience. My mother’s oncologist was a saint. And my sister’s is very thoughtful and kind, and to my surprise, unconventional to boot. And not shy about utilizing any means to the end.
Of course, when any diagnosis comes my way, I do my due diligence and research treatments, etc., whether for my dogs or my people. And while googling most conditions is often not prudent (everything turns terminal on the web!), once the diagnosis is in, treatment options abound there.
Like you, I’ve taken many more advanced courses than I ever wanted to learn . . .
They treated this cancer the conventional way, with good old chemo and radiation. New treatments are on the horizon, but with clinical trials too far to get to, the team decided on this option.
But those weren’t the only things utilized.
So I’d already found this “other” method, found the studies, found the data.
My sister would hear none of it. Oh, not on moral or even legal grounds, but because she’d tried it in her youth and didn’t like it. I persisted—to no avail.
She can be a bit stubborn J But I have to say, that trait proves helpful when battling the demon disease.
And then came our next oncology visit.
The news was promising—we were on the right road. Euphoria! Our oncologist was ecstatic as well—almost giddy, even. In her line of work, I’m sure being able to impart good news makes her month.
And then I about fell out of my chair.
Leaning toward my sister, peering over thick wire-framed glasses, in the most professorial tone, the oncologist said evenly, “Would you be open to smoking some marijuana each day? The new studies have shown that it can reduce the kind of tumor you have.”
I swear there is a God! Nothing I said could move my sister off of No. But let her oncologist suggest it!
Of course, the doctor followed up with the standard: “Since medical marijuana isn’t legal in our state, I will deny I said this.”
Not a problem! I’ll deny you said it too!
Because here’s the scoop: Harvard University researchers found that a compound in pot may fight lung cancer. In both laboratory and mouse studies, delta-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) cuts tumor growth in half in common lung cancer. And, it impedes the cancer’s ability to spread.
That was way good enough for me. Or, actually, far, far more than good enough.
And, from the doc’s mouth, it was good enough for my sister.
Have no fear—a pothead she has not become. She still doesn’t like it. And doesn’t do much of it. But has been faithful with some daily use, just as the doctor ordered.
Did I mention she’s in remission?
Of course, we can’t say the pot did that. But if it had one tiny bit of effect . . .
When faced with a terrible illness, I’m a believer in fighting with every gun in the arsenal. Legal, or not.
So a funny thing happened on the way to our cancer fight. We found an unconventional and caring doc. An unconventional additional treatment.
And most of all, we found remission.
And I am more grateful than I have words to say.
Award-winning writer and editor Susan Mary Malone is the author of the novels, "I Just Came Here to Dance" and "By the Book," as well as four co-authored nonfiction books, including "What’s Wrong with My Family?" and many published short stories. Forty-plus Malone-edited books have now sold to traditional publishers.