Pubdate: Sun, 24 Nov 2002
Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (WI)
Copyright: 2002 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Author: Jimmy Breslin
Note: Jimmy Breslin is a columnist for Newsday.
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)


"I think I've felt better."

"Can I do anything?"

"Nope. I'll get some pot, and it'll be better."

We were on the wet street outside Memorial Sloan-Kettering in New York
where she had just had a transfusion. She is Rosemary Dunne, a relative
from Connecticut, and she has been living on blood transfusions every two
weeks for several years. She has a low red count, and nobody knows why.
That's all there is.

"I'm mad at myself," she said.


"Because I didn't bring it with me. I left it home."

We were looking for a cab. It's always a delicate scuffle. The sidewalk is
crowded, and most people are sick, and you never know how sick the person
trying for the cab with you is.

"I find it so offensive to prove that something works for me. A lot of
people do. And some don't. But patients who smoke pot to help nausea can
find the pot helps. Put me down. All I want is a couple of puffs when I
come out of here.

"I hate it when they use the word 'anecdotal' about this. That was what
this Barry McCaffrey said when he was running the drug program in the White
House. The most ridiculous man I've ever seen. He said that feeling better
from pot was 'anecdotal' and didn't count for a scientific investigation.
Was he saying this because drug companies don't want patients turning to pot?"

"He was afraid that somebody with cancer smoking pot would get addicted to
it. Be a danger to society," I noted.

"I'm in a cancer hospital, and they think I'm planning a party.

"Now I know where to find pot, but why should I have to go and hunt? What
about all the people that don't? I do nothing illegal in my life, except
this. I buy the pot illegally.

"I'm afraid to travel with it, so sometimes like this I don't have it. I
just battle the nausea by lying in bed for five or six hours. Nothing like
what that methotrexate did to me. It made me throw up 17 times between
11:30 at night and 9 in the morning. Half the time, I stayed on the
bathroom floor to wait for the next time, or I crawled from the bed. The
only thing that helped was a few puffs of pot and a few sips of Coca-Cola."

"Can't they give you something upstairs?" I asked her.

"They gave me the latest and best prescription drugs, Compazine and Zofran
- - and they didn't work. In fact, Compazine made me sicker; I don't know if
I told you that. If I start getting queasy, I use a combination of a tiny
bit of pot and a little Coca-Cola. Don't give me Pepsi or any other soda.
My body only wants Coca-Cola.

"Some cancer patients respond to pot and are able to eat and put on weight
they need. Some patients aren't like that and don't respond to pot. But how
is that different from me not responding well to the prescription drugs,
and they are quite expensive. I know Zofran was when it first came out."

We caught a cab, and what at least was irritation came out of her. "I just
can't believe that there is another side to using pot for medicine. I have
no respect for anybody who is against this. None. They're so full of it.
Let them have the experience themselves or their wives or children, and
they'd be clamoring for pot.

"I can't listen to these people discussing it on television or in some
magazine. Because I'm bored with the topic and sick of it. I'm too busy
trying to stay healthy. Several serious doctors I've spoken to recommend
that I smoke pot when I need it. One doctor told me that starting about a
decade ago at UCLA, some doctors recommended pot and took it from patients
and put it in high-powered microwaves before giving it back to them so they
could avoid the fungal infections from the pot.

"I've talked to other patients who have had success with pot and others who
haven't. Some like it. Some don't. But that's the same as it is with
prescription drugs. Like anything - chemotherapy, prescription drugs - some
work on some people, others don't. Two people with almost the same cancer
at the same stage can respond completely different to treatment. Why
wouldn't patients' response to pot be the same?"
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MAP posted-by: Terry Liittschwager