Medical marijuana stigma still a hurdle, says cancer patient

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Originally posted by CBC News

It was just one year ago that Gaston Miron was living a healthy life — an avid cyclist and kayaker raising three small girls along with his wife in their home in central Alberta.

And then, one Sunday morning, he started coughing.

“I just couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t walk around. I couldn’t breath,” he said.

“I was coughing and coughing. I was coughing for a week.”

Eventually, Miron went to the emergency room, but doctors could not determine what was wrong. It took months before he got a sure diagnosis.

“The doctor’s said, ‘This is not pneumonia. We need to get you in for a CT scan.'”

The scan showed that Miron’s lung was damaged, and a tumour was growing in it. He was given 6-18 months to live.

“It’s basically live with the pain the best you can and improve your lifestyle.”

Miron says he uses two products: one to help with his pain in the day, the other to help him sleep. (CBC)

Miron refused radiotherapy, as he wasn’t yet in pain. Eventually, doctors suggested Iressa, a medication that attacks the cancerous cells’ ability to grow and spread.
He said it worked wonders — his tumour shrunk by 30 per cent within two months, and the cancer had not metastasized.

But Iressa came with its own burden. Headaches, body aches, stomach pain, itchy rashes: all side effects of the medication Miron takes daily. Soon, he was taking 400 mg of Ibuprofen every morning just to deal with the pain.
Eventually, he turned to medical marijuana. But finding a doctor that would write him a prescription was difficult. He said both his general practitioner and his oncologist were supportive of him using marijuana, but both were reluctant to actually prescribe it. Miron said it was because of the stigma surrounding the drug and the direction of the Alberta Medical Association.

“I didn’t want to be high all day long. I just wanted to cope. I have three little girls at home under the age of 12, just to be with them is fantastic,” he said.


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