Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought the two words “cannabis” and “nurse” would be used together, but today I am proud to say I am a “Cannabis Nurse”. I first became aware of the health benefits of the cannabis plant 20 years ago while working as a registered nurse in the fields of medical-surgical nursing, oncology research and patient care and hospice/palliative care. I heard so many patients talking about how marijuana was relieving their nausea, anxiety, insomnia and pain while also giving them an appetite when they had none. Because it was so effective for treating the symptoms of cancer and can- cer treatment, some of the doctors I worked alongside would even quietly tell their patients to find some and smoke it.
I really began to take note of the additional health benefits of cannabis as I moved from oncology to hospice and palliative care. I became convinced of the benefits for symptom treatment but was still skeptical of any of the curative effects on cancer, until I saw it myself. Years ago I met a patient in her early 50s whose body was ravaged with lung cancer, including in the lining in her heart, and she had a large visible tumor in the side of her neck.
She only had weeks to live and one of the first things her loved one told me on admission to hospice was that they were going to get a special cannabis oil that had been shown to treat and possibly cure cancer. Had the cancer not been in the lining of her heart, the result quite possibly could have been very different based on the dramatic response I observed. This patient no longer needed morphine and lorazepam, the tumor on her neck was shrinking and her breath sounds opened completely up.
Another major reason I am so passionate about medical cannabis is the countless people who I’ve spoken to over the years that have told me they were able to get completely off of opioids. These were patients who had been living on those hose nasty, addictive, harmful, life-destroying chemicals just to be able to function in their daily lives for years and even decades.
Lastly, I am a Christian and I feel that God has called me to this work.