Archive for October, 2013

sharon whitson

Preserve Patients Rights

In 2009 when I was diagnosed with Cervical Cancer I was devastated.  I could not even form the word cancer to tell my husband let alone my then 5th-grade son. 

Cancer is the fight of your life.  I survived mine and consider myself very lucky; thanks to an angel!  I endured eight rounds of a chemotherapy drug called Cisplatin and seven-week of daily radiation with only Saturday & Sundays off.  Cancer treatment was like a daily job.

I was afraid. I had seen other people go through cancer treatment and was humbled by the prospect of what I was about to undergo.   I knew this was the fight for my life. 

Radiation started first.  I got my first ever tattoos – the ones they use to line up the radiation equipment to assure that they shooting the beams of radiation into the correct locations.  It’s scary going in for the first time.  The anticipation was intense.  The machine is huge and alone in a large room, cool to the touch as you lay down into it and they adjust their settings to align with your new tattoos. 

Then they run away to a separate room, only to view you through cameras and their window which is actually a shield to protect them from what is about to happen to you. 

The radiation table

You don’t feel anything, other than the inner turmoil and fear that you get when your mortality is at stake.  You just hear the drone of the machine as it rotates and shoots beams of radiation into you from 4 different angles – front, back, and each side.  It takes only a few minutes and then they are back helping you out of the machine.  On your day goes.

Chemotherapy was once a week and required two surgeries.  The first surgery to get my chemo port put in and the second to eventually have it removed.  What is a chemo port?  It’s a device they implant so they can feed chemo directly into your larger chest veins.  Chemo blows out the ‘usual’ veins the medical field uses.  Chemo is a long process.  Mine took 4-5 hours which I tried to spend reading or resting and making small talk with the nurses and other patients also getting chemo.

My Chemo Port site

The stress of cancer is unreal.  It twists your mind in ways you can’t imagine – unless you’ve been there and trust me, you don’t want to be there.  For this stress, I was offered anti-depressants, & anti-anxiety drugs.  I was able to avoid both with all their toxic side effects by talking to my Doctor at Swedish about Medical Cannabis.  He was aware of its properties and gladly provided me with a recommendation to help ease my journey through cancer. 

Through the use of medical cannabis, I was able to cut my nausea medications from six pills to only two.  The cost of those two pills was $120 a week alone.   Did I mention I was laid off my job during this entire ordeal and had to bear the cost of Cobra Coverage for my insurance while on unemployment and supporting a child?  Talk about pushed to the max.  I knew cannabis was helping me.  Our then very limited medical cannabis access points were pushed into far off industrial zones very far from my Kirkland home and treatments at Swedish Cancer Institute.  The cost of travel on me physically and the financial costs of cannabis were not helping my already over-stressed situation.

Then an angel appeared. Another medical patient who had learned to grow their own cannabis had excess to share with me – for free.  They never asked me for a cent.  They changed my life and the life of my family.  Their ability to grow their own cannabis and share their excess with another qualified patient, me, saved my life and surely my sanity.  I was so on the edge and this simple gift was life for me. 

Cannabis is like a light switch from agony to tolerable.  Its effects are instant and lasting. Another patient’s gift of homegrown cannabis helped me survive the fight of my life more intact, with less suffering, and ultimately more dignity & peace as I could function better.  Had they not been able to grow their own cannabis my agony and pain would have stayed at intolerable levels.  My son would have spent more nights listening to his mother suffer.  I would not have reclaimed my functionality and ability to preserver through treatment.

Zackary & I just prior to my diagnosis

I will forever be in debt to this angel and they will always have a very special place in my heart.  I’m sure my angle has helped other sick people over these years.  This is a blessing.  We cannot allow the State of Washington to take away our ability to grow our own cannabis in our homes.  It is vital that this stays in place as it helps people. This is, after all, a plant with healing properties.  This is a right and freedom given to us by the voters of Washington State via I-692 in 1998. 

The human factor must be considered in this decision.  We live in a compassionate state that voted to allow medical use and caretaking.  The voters of the great State of Washington have spoken.  We cannot allow our vote to be overridden.  Throwing our compassionate system out the window in exchange for tax revenue will hurt the very people it was voted in to help. 

Washington needs to be the focal point of the worldwide cannabis activism community.  We are the front line now.  The line in the sand is being drawn here.  You can be guaranteed that the rules & regulations they implement here will the rules & regulations that other states & countries will live under as legalization rolls out worldwide.

We’ve removed two bricks from their once impenetrable wall.  There are chinks in their armor.  Let’s not trade out the old mime of prohibition for a new one.  We can do something about this.  It’s our responsibility to stand up and help them get this right!

Write and call the Attorney General.  Their phone number is 360-753-6200.  You can reach them online at

UPDATE: They’ll ask you to email [email protected] and give your comments.  Still, contact both!  Also, call the Legislative Hot Line 800-562-6000

Tell him your medical cannabis story.  Be polite.  State facts and be clear.  Now is the time to find your voice!  They will win if we do not stand up and fight for our rights!

Want to become even more involved?  Join us!  Volunteer with Seattle Hempfest as we start to wade our way through legalization.  Be the change you want to see.  Email us at [email protected] Stop by our hemp boutique, Hempfest Central 3220 NE 125th St here in Seattle become involved! 

Much hempy love!


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