Several years ago a wonderful young college grad came to work at the same media sales office as this bitch. Maggie was young and happy and full of energy. She joined an office full of bitter, pill popping, heavy drinking media sharks. But rather than lash out at Maggie for being so fresh and nice, we were all drawn to her like flies to a flame. It was like being afforded an opportunity to experience that part of life again through her eyes.
Maggie started working with me as an assistant to our department. Slowly, I took on a mentor relationship with her. I got to know her family, which consisted of her very conservative father, her equally sunny mother and her spoiled assed sister. Since a bitch had a rapidly deteriorating relationship with my own mother, I was fascinated to watch the legitimate love and support showered upon Maggie by her mother Paula.
When I was Maggie’s age, my father died suddenly of a massive heart attack. I was shattered, but slowly began to learn how to live this life without his presence. For those who have experienced the loss of a parent, they know that there is life before and then life after. The void between these two lives is a hollow timeless vat of unexplainable pain. And then you move forward into life “without”…life “minus”…a life missing someone. But a bitch knows that I was blessed not to see my beloved father suffer with a prolonged illness.
I know this because I watched my mentee Maggie endure the slow, bitter loss of her mother Paula to breast cancer.
One random Tuesday, Maggie came into the office 2 hours late and looking like shit. After trying to engage her in conversation I finally asked, with a slight attitude, what the fuck was wrong. People don’t expect drama to happen to 23-year-old sorority girls. We just assume that their troubles are trivial and involve some boy or girl and too much beer. But Maggie was clearly legitimately upset. She broke down and sobbed for 20 minutes.
“My mother has breast cancer. It’s already spread. They say she has a 50/50 chance!”
Comfort was given and it wasn’t enough. Over the next week Maggie gathered strength and decided to look at the glass as half full. I watched the strain a daughter endures as her mother fights…and I mean fights like hell…to stay alive. I visited Paula in her lovely home and watched her struggle to play hostess. I saw the look of defeat spring into her eyes as I finally took over "her" kitchen and made her the tea she didn’t have the strength to prepare.
Paula’s cancer went into remission and then the fucker came back with a vengeance. She was horribly sick and throwing up all the time due to the treatments. So, when her doctor mentioned pot, she really was willing to try anything. Paula was a rather conservative woman, so she was freaked out about the whole idea.
Three more days of retching made up everyone’s mind about the “pot” option.
Medical marijuana wasn’t legal, but Paula found out where to "score" from a fellow patient. She then called me…to find out if the neighbors would know if she smoked outside…to find out what it would feel like…to confess.
I am not ashamed to say that I walked Paula through the who, what, when and where. And we laughed together at the idea of her sitting in one of the most exclusive neighborhoods in town and "smoking out". I had to break it to her that she was not the only chic hitting the weed in that neighborhood. And that made her laugh even harder. Mind you, she hadn’t even lit up!
The pot worked. Paula was able to function again. She made Thanksgiving dinner for her family and sat through the meal without having to run for the toilet. This was a victory over her cancer. Paula’s perfect turkey was the big cancer Fuck You of the year.
Paula lost her battle with breast cancer in 2002. She was able to sit and talk and relate to her family up to the very end. Paula shared her awe at the power of pot to conquer her nausea and calm her spirit with me several times. I know it helped her be the mother she took pride in being while she fought breast cancer.
And I know that made all the difference to her.
A bitch is sharing this to personalize this fucking issue. I am angry that women still fight and struggle and die from breast cancer. I am angry that they are now denied the legal use of medicinal marijuana. I’m fucking pissed that Maggie’s mother didn’t get to see her walk down the aisle and get married last year or help her pick out flowers for the wedding. And I am beyond pissed that this wonderful woman is no longer in the world.
But above all, I am livid that the first and only time Paula broke the law was to use pot…to calm her nausea…so she could cook a meal for the family she loved…and feel like she was alive and not dying.
Join me in St. Louis, Saturday June 18th, at the Komen Race for the Cure as I walk in Paula’s memory.
There was hope in the medicinal use of marijuana.
And there is hope in a cure.