Pubdate: Sat, 13 Mar 2010
Source: Tahoe Daily Tribune (South Lake Tahoe, CA)
Copyright: 2010 Swift Communications
Author: Abby  Hoover


Watching Steve Kubby maneuver around on the mountain makes it hard to
believe he's been living with terminal cancer for 35 years.

Kubby is determined to ski a million vertical feet before the end of
the season.

It's a challenge he set for himself to raise awareness of his disease
and the treatment to which he feels he owes his life. He attributes
his survival to regular use of medicinal marijuana. "I'm so inspired
because I'm alive," he said. "I should have died or had a heart
attack, but instead I'm skiing and what a wonderful gift, and without
this herb, that gift wouldn't be a reality."

His Cancer

Kubby was diagnosed with pheochromocytoma at 24 years old and it
turned malignant when he was 28.

Pheochromocytoma is a rare form of adrenal cancer that causes spikes
in adrenaline and other hormones that increase a person's blood
pressure, leaving them with feelings of panic, fear, nausea, and
abdominal pain.

Symptoms and life threatening situations Kubby said he cures
consistently by ingesting and smoking cannabis.

"You get what's called hypertension peroxisms," Kubby said. "That's
when your tumors suddenly and without warning secrete a lethal or near
lethal amount of adrenaline. You feel sick and nauseous and scared,
and all these other things.

My body would make 10 times more adrenaline than other people's. You
can drop dead at any time from a heart attack, a stroke or an
aneurysm." His treatment

Kubby found relief in marijuana a few years after his diagnosis. "I
was in such agonizing pain and each day I just wanted to die," Kubby

"I had a strong desire to just end my life because it was so horrible,
each day was so horrible, every moment of my life was so horrible, but
every time I would think about suicide I would remind myself that
suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem."

It turned out to be very temporary. Kubby said he found the benefits
of medicinal marijuana by accident.

Shortly after his diagnosis, an old college friend approached

"I said, 'I can't smoke that," Kubby said."He said, 'Why notUKP' I said,
'I have cancer; I don't want to lower my immune system or screw it up
with marijuana.'" His friend convinced him that he only had six months
to live anyway, so why not have a little fun? Kubby smoked it and said
he found something startling in his blood pressure levels.

"I was able to experiment a little, and my blood pressures were
controlled like nothing else on the planet," he said. "I thought what
doctor is ever gonna believe this? This was nuts, but I had the blood
pressures and the improving health to back it up."

His Doctors' Opinions

Kubby has struggled to bring attention to the treatment he feels is
saving his life. "For years, nobody want ed to hear that it was treat
ing my cancer." Kubby said.

Kubby's doctors admit that his case is highly unusual.

"When pheochromocy toma metastasizes or grows back in a site where it
was previ ously surgically removed, and cannot be removed again, the
median survival rate is about 10 12 years," wrote Dr. Joseph M.

Connors, who first treated Kubby back in 2002. Connors is also a
clinical professor and chair of the Lymphoma Tumor Group and clinical
director of the British Columbia Cancer Agency Centre for Lymphoid

"The longest survival for a patient such as Steve that I could find
described anywhere in the medical literature was 26 years, and that
case was considered ex tremely unusual. Steve has beaten that record,"
Dr. Connors wrote in an e-mail.

Kubby suffered a knee injury this January after a rough spill on the
slopes, so he went to go see local chiropractor Dr. David Borges.

"It was amazing how bad his injury was and how well he healed," said
Dr. Borges."He's going to attribute that to his anti inflammatory
issues with his mar ijuana. I don't have any evidence or research on
that ... but I can tell you what I witnessed, and as a witness, I
don't know if I've ever seen that kind of healing in that age group."

The vertical challenge

Kubby is not shy to talk about how marijuana alleviates his pain. He's
been a strong proponent of its legalization with Proposition 215, and
has written books on the subject of medicinal marijuana.

However, he's also discovered another form of personal therapy.
"Skiing allowed me to be out side and gave me the illusion of not
being ill," Kubby said. "If I could get up and get dressed, it was all
downhill from there."

This season, he's chosen to attempt to ski a million vertical feet in
order to celebrate 35 years of living with terminal cancer.

"I think a million vertical feet is pretty recognized in skiing as a
rather monumental accomplish ment," Kubby said. "It's only something
that good skiers who are in good shape and (who) real ly focus on it
for the whole season who can rack up a million vertical feet."

He's also making turns to raise awareness.

"At 35 years, I should be stand ing on rooftops yelling to people and
telling them this plant saved my life; it could save your life, too,"
he said. "It kept me from succumbing to terminal illness -- I owe this

As of March 10, Kubby has skied about 654,619 feet. He invites the
community to come participate with him at Heavenly Mountain Resort.

"If people want to join me for some runs as I pursue my one million
vertical feet, they can usu ally find me in line at the GunBarrel
Express, just before it opens in the morning," he said.
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake