Nicola A.K.A Dr Green Haze tells of her experience of cancer and cannabis

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I have gone through treatment with and without cannabis so I know the “ins and out” of cancer and cannabis. I grew up travelling the country with my mom and brother (my mom was a radio DJ so we met people from all over the world and all walks of life) and this prepared me for college where I received my Masters in Sociology and Criminology from Ashford University.

My first battle with cancer was when I was diagnosed with cervical cancer when I was 19. Other than the doctor saying the big C word and me freaking out, treatment was simple. I went to the doctor’s office and they used a laser and burned the cancer off, no chemo, radiation, or long treatments – just rest for the weekend and return to normal activities on Monday.

My second battle was uterine cancer. My oncologist set out a treatment plan for me that would start the next morning: 22 weeks of chemo 3 times per week, surgery to remove the uterus, 30 days in the hospital and my own pharmacy’s worth of medication. After 8 long months I was in remission, but during this time cannabis was illegal in the states so I was stuck with big Pharma and, wouldn’t you know it, I became addicted to opioids. I fought with an opioid addiction for 15 years until, finally, 4 years ago I beat the opioid addiction with the help of cannabis.

I was then diagnosed with endometrium cancer so, again, more chemo. My body wasn’t strong enough for radiation so we knew at that time we were going to have to look into other alternatives. It wasn’t until I was diagnosed with bladder cancer that my oncologist talked to me about cannabis. Cannabis has been legal here since 2010, but wasn’t talked about for a couple of years when it took off in the early 2000s.

Cannabis scared me, I didn’t know a lot about it at that time so I started researching it. I started with how to get my card and legally use, this was the most important issue to me at the time because as a cancer patients we have blood tests all the time and I was afraid I was going to be judged negatively. I received my card in the mail a few weeks later; while I had been waiting I had started research on the cannabis itself. I went to the dispensary for the first time knowing that for my cancer I needed a strong Indica strain, so I tried a mix of flower and edibles.

Edibles are very different from smoking. Smoking cannabis is an immediate high, unlike edibles that can take up to 2 hours to kick in fully. Finding a balance between smoking cannabis and eating it took me a little while but soon I figured out dosing for maximum pain coverage that doesn’t give me couch lock. For those of you that don’t know what couch lock is, it is where you are too high to function which is great for bed time but not so much during the day. I started working with hybrids looking for a coverage during the day that would give me energy and a little more focus, and I was right.

By this time I had a complete hysterectomy, my doctor didn’t want to chance the ovaries becoming infected. I was only 27 at that time, but I was happy about the hysterectomy as I had 2 sons and I didn’t want any more kids, but I wasn’t ready for menopause. We tried hormones very briefly and decided against it. I was in remission for 6 years when I ended up in the hospital and was diagnosed with bladder cancer. In December of 2016 all cancer treatments ended and I was given a terminal stage 4 bladder cancer diagnosis. Honestly, I didn’t hear anything the doctor said after that, I left the office and got in my car and sat there for I don’t know how long listening to a Limp Bizkit CD. The Big C is scary, but the Big TC (terminal cancer) is sobering, I wasn’t thinking about me at that point, I was thinking about my kids, my family, my friends, and what this meant for them. How was I going to tell them, what was I going to tell them, maybe I should have listened a little more in the office, but my biggest question was: Am I going to tell them?

Cancer does not discriminate. It has affected all of us in one way or another, but my family and my kids have watched me fight for 22 years and now it seems to be winning. I fought with myself for a few days before I came to my decision, and that decision was to tell my family but I wasn’t stopping there I created platforms to reach out to other cancer, PTSD, depression, pain, and so many other patients to help educate and support “The Free the Cannabis movement”. I am very passionate about this movement because cannabis gave me my life back. I am no longer struggling to get out of bed, I can eat a little more and it stays down most of the time, my pain is still there but it’s manageable, and I’m not mad or sad all the time anymore. Patients with serious illnesses tend to have moments of severe depression, these moments can last from hours to weeks and sometimes months, when I get depressed I withdraw from family and friends, I don’t want to see them hurting because I’m hurting.

I’ve chosen to take a public stand with Cannabis, bringing my story and so many other stories to the public to help educate, change laws, and welcome in a day where we don’t have to worry about all of these illnesses.

I will be giving advice, answering questions, showing “the tricks” to feeling better with cannabis, reviews, written blogs, diabetes, and cannabis, how to’s, and cooking with cannabis. The mission of my site is to help other cancer patients understand their rights, educate on medical cannabis how to use, ingest, and smoke as well as educates the powerful medicinal quality.

Originally published in Weed World Magazine issue 131