How Cannabis Helps Patients and Survivors Cope with Cancer

Cannabis is a popular option for many patients and survivors of cancer, who use it to manage their symptoms and side effects. In a recent social media survey, CURE® asked its audience about their thoughts and experiences with cannabis during cancer. Here are some of the responses.

One of the most common reasons why patients and survivors use cannabis is to alleviate nausea, pain, and sleep problems, which are often caused by cancer or its treatments. Many respondents said that cannabis helped them deal with these issues better than conventional medications.

For example, Mike F. said that cannabis helped him cope with the chemo and radiation, and that he was all for it. Patrick K. said that cannabis was the best and safest symptom and side-effect management system he had used. Tracy A. said that she used cannabis with CBD for pain.

Some respondents also said that cannabis improved their appetite and mood, which are also important aspects of quality of life. Lisa B. said that cannabis helped her with sleeping, increasing appetite, and anxiety, and that she had all three during her healing journey. Gina S. said that cannabis helped keep her in the positive.

Cannabis Is Preferred over Opioids

Another reason why patients and survivors use cannabis is to avoid or reduce the use of opioids, which are often prescribed for pain relief, but can have negative side effects and addictive potential. Some respondents said that they hated opioid pain pills, and that they preferred cannabis as a natural and effective alternative.

For instance, Mary Lynn M., a seven-year endometrial adenocarcinoma survivor, said that she hated opioid pain pills, and that she strongly supported the use of cannabis during treatments. Paul B. said that it seemed unfair that opiate-derived drugs, which are known to be addictive, were allowed, but cannabis, which is less harmful, was controversial.

Cannabis Needs More Research and Regulation

Some respondents also expressed their concerns and challenges with cannabis use, such as the lack of research, regulation, and guidance on the best products, dosages, and methods for different types of cancer and symptoms. They also said that they faced stigma, legal barriers, and job restrictions because of their cannabis use.

For example, Gimi said that it would be great if there were better guidelines on what to take for what type of cancer, and more regulation globally, as some people did not have access to well-regulated and good-quality CBD. Tamera A., a breast cancer survivor and CURE® blogger, said that she would be fired from her job as a federal government employee if she used cannabis.

Cannabis Requires Communication and Education

The survey results showed that there is a need for more communication and education about cannabis use among patients, survivors, and their health care providers. Many respondents said that they did not discuss cannabis with their doctors, either because they did not feel comfortable, or because they did not think their doctors were knowledgeable or supportive.

Therefore, it is important for patients and survivors who are interested in using cannabis to have an open and honest conversation with their health care providers, and to seek reliable and evidence-based information about the benefits and risks of cannabis use. It is also important for health care providers to be aware of and respectful of their patients’ preferences and choices regarding cannabis use.

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