A cancer patients' dream drug

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“I was very skinny, I lacked appetite, and did not sleep well. Going through the meds I developed symptoms of a UTI and it made my kidneys ache while also leaving me feeling very sluggish, exhausted, and weak.” Maggie Bertrandt was 17, going into her senior year of high school when she received news of an abnormality in her thyroid, a “butterfly like gland” she calls it. It was cancer.

The following months consisted of one radiation treatment and a series of two different medications, which were supposed to help regulate the thyroid hormones while also decreasing the risk of the cancer cells from spreading.

“After radiation, I was stuck in my room for a weekend without any contact,” said Bertrandt. “Medical marijuana is the only thing that helped me.”

According to the American Cancer Society, medical marijuana has helped cancer patients in more ways than one.

“Studies have long shown that people who took marijuana extracts in clinical trials tended to need less pain medicine,” says the American Cancer Society. “ More recently, scientists reported that THC and other cannabinoids slow growth and cause death in certain types of cancer cells. Some animal studies also suggest certain cannabinoids may slow growth and reduce spread of some forms of cancer.”

This is something Bertrandt can attest to. While the medicine her doctor prescribed was successfully treating the cancer, the side effects were crippling on the body and mind.

“It was honestly the only thing that would make me feel somewhat like myself during those months,” she said. “I could laugh and eat and not throw up and sleep it was crazy to see how much it really did help me both in my physical and emotional state.”

However, not everyone is as open to trying the natural herb as medicinal relief as the Bertrandt family was. Parents tend to have a hard time allowing their kids to smoke anything, let alone a Schedule 1 drug, meaning it is considered just as dangerous and addictive as heroin or meth to the United States Drug Enforcement Administration.

Many people believe this to be a harsh classification on marijuana, including the American Cancer Society who has publicly stated their support of the need for more scientific research on marijuana for cancer patients, something that is difficult to do under the current Schedule 1 classification.

“The American Cancer Society recognizes the need for better and more effective therapies that can overcome the often debilitating side effects of cancer and its treatment,” reads their website. “The Society also believes that the classification of marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance by the US Drug Enforcement Administration imposes numerous conditions on researchers and deters scientific study of cannabinoids. Federal officials should examine options consistent with federal law for enabling more scientific study on marijuana.”

It also should be known that marijuana can be ingested in various ways, not solely by “smoking” it.

According to the United Patients Group, marijuana can be ingested using edibles such as brownies, crackers, lollipops, ice cream, gummy bears and more.

For patients unable to take medications orally, there are also transdermal patches, a patch you stick on a clean, dry and hairless skin surface that can provide relief for up to eight hours.

Another option aside from inhaling the medicine would be to simply drink it. Most medical marijuana dispensaries sell bottles of cannabis infused teas, juices, smoothies and sodas and can be medicated to give a specific feeling such as energy or stress relief.

The options patients have of ingesting marijuana are endless, there are even lotions to treat skin issues with medical cannabis. A patient doesn’t solely have to inhale the marijuana and is not nearly as dangerous as the DEA classifies it.

“I think the negative connotations that come with marijuana have made the older generations frown upon the medicinal reasons when it is an all natural medicine rather than pills stuffed with different chemicals,” said Bertrandt. “But it’s not all about the high- it’s about the results, the relief and the benefits to the progression of medicine.”

Elisabeth is a caring, dog crazed bookworm. When not swamped with school, she enjoys traveling to new places, working at dog day cares or pestering people to give her new books to read.