Samantha Stevenson was only 27 years old when she was diagnosed with stage three cervical cancer after suffering pain for 6 months in July 2016.
Sam’s treatment has been riddled with unfortunate events from start to finish. Even getting the diagnosis was difficult as her doctor initially refused to give her a smear test because she’d tested clear two years before.
Three months later she was enrolled in a form of radiotherapy called Brachytherapy that uses radioactive implants near or inside the tumour. After the treatment, the pain returned and while doctors were adamant that the new procedure would prevent a return of the cancer they eventually rescanned the area and found the cancer had come back.
By Autumn things were looking pretty desperate, Sam had shrunk down to six stone and the buckets of medications she was on were taking their toll. For her family the effect on her quality of life was the most evident. According to her sister Tash the “drugs made her a zombie, she couldn’t enjoy time with her kids”.
Frustrated by the number of issues they had had with traditional medicine Sam’s family turned to the cannabis rumours they’d read about online. Her mother Maureen asked, “if they can give her ketamine why not try cannabis?” They started with oral oil and through a process of trial and error, they found their way to administering two half grams of cannabis oil per day by homemade coco-oil suppository to avoid any psychoactive effects.
The quality of life results have been enormous, Sam has managed to cut all the pain and nausea medications down to just the suppository and a few hydrocodone to stave off physical withdrawal symptoms from all the prescribed opioids. She has also managed to put on weight and is now back to eight stone. But perhaps most exciting of all is that the tumour appears to have stopped growing since the last scan, previously it had grown by 50% in volume but after starting the cannabis oil it seemed to be less. Seemed because the normal way of measuring a tumour is no longer available. Usually, tumours are injected with a dye and then scanned for it; but since taking cannabis oil Sam’s tumour did not suck up all the dye (which is a promising sign in itself but means that doctors couldn’t measure the shrinkage).
Sam and her family are lucky, they found a local underground community that can help them with sourcing and producing cannabis products, they even have a well known CBD retailer checking their cannabis oils for them to ensure THC levels. Yet this is not enough, the fact is that for seeking medicines that have provided huge quality of life changes, Sam’s family could be locked up. There are no clinical studies showing that cannabis can cure cervical cancer, only promising pre-clinical studies. Just as cancer isn’t one disease but a family of diseases, cannabis is not one medicine but a family of different medicines. Considering the obvious life-enhancing effects and the very limited downside to cannabis consumption it is morally imperative that cannabis is decriminalised on compassionate grounds while research is being undertaken and regulations formed. At this point when we have such a mountain of evidence that cannabis is safer than most drugs it is completely unconscionable to hinder those most in need from trying them. Even if it only provided symptomatic quality of life such as appetite and a pain free existence it should be available, never mind the potential benefits to the root causes!