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Breaking Rules to Save My Life

by Robbie Dellow
helen with her medical marijuana bottles

When your doctor gives you a prognosis of 6 months left to live, you will try nearly anything possible to have a fighting chance to extend your life. That was the decision Helen made when she found herself reluctantly breaking rules so she could live!

Diagnosed in 2018 with two fast-growing tumours (glioblastoma) developing in and around her brain,  Helen fully understood the gravity of the situation she was facing. Having previously worked in the New Zealand health sector, she knew the standard treatment options available, and the likelihood of winning the battle she was about to enter.

After three gruelling months of chemotherapy and radiation treatment, the tumours remained. The future was looking bleak. It was then, Helen chanced upon an Australian clinical trail that was open but restricted to 86 patients. Helen hastily enrolled (self-funded) as patient #86 – a very close call.

The Sydney trial lasted for 12 weeks and involved CBD/THC medical cannabis. The aim being to test the effects of medical cannabis on brain cancer sufferers. Patients would either receive doses of pure tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a mixture of THC and cannabinol, or a placebo. After flying over to Australia, Helen met with the specialist team, joined the trial, and promptly received pure THC, initially with 0.2ml doses, eventually working up to 2ml controlled doses. 

On her numerous flights back to New Zealand, Helen made the choice to bring some extra THC oil back with her to allow the  continuing of the treatment. Because THC oil is illegal in her native country she was in effect breaking rules and the consequences for being caught with such contraband would be harsh. But, then again, the other consequences weren’t to rosy either. 

How wrong is it that an elderly lady is made to feel like a criminal just because the alternative treatment, that incidentally, was showing to be reducing her tumours, is not approved by the pharmaceutical powers-that-be?

Previous to her treatment, Helen was very anti-cannabis. Having since received oncologist scans showing no tumour regrowth, she is now much more open-minded and has a renewed hope for the future.

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