Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Names have been changed to protect the innocent...

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.


dmfinny said...

Great post, sis. I'll be joining you in spirit from Brooklyn, and I hope all readers will support cancer-fighting efforts all over the country.

Tiger Lilly said...

Ah, my mascara is running now. Truly beautiful.

Billy the Bootlegger said...

Powerful stuff. The world can be so unfair in so many ways.

It's Me, Maven... said...

You never cease to amaze me with your words. I'm not sure what's got me a bit misty right now, your profound gift of insight and wordsmithing, or of Paula's own struggle and passing.

"Radical" Russ said...

<ActivistMode> The Raich decision really did not "make medical marijuana illegal". It merely upheld the status quo. Nothing in the decision invalidates the medical marijuana laws of CA, OR, WA, AK, HI, NV, MT, AZ, CO, ME, and VT (or DE's medical necessity defense). Medipot patients in those states are still protected by state law,and since 99% of the enforcement of drug laws falls on the shoulders of state and local law enforcement, those cops still can't harass medipot patients.

The ruling just means that it is OK for the DEA to bust patients in those states. However, the feds are increasingly reluctant to do that, since handcuffing visibly sick people in wheelchairs for smoking state-approved medicine tends to poll badly among the American public (a recent Time poll shows 80% of Americans in favor medical use of marijuana.)

In his ruling, Justice Stevens pointed out that this was an issue for the Congress, not the Court, to solve. That's exactly what we can do - bring pressure to bear on our representatives to protect sick people using legally prescribed medicine.

Call your rep and ask them to support the Hinchey-Rohrabacher Amendment. This law would forbid the federal government from using taxpayer funds to bust medipot patients in medipot states. In other words, the DEA will have the right to bust patients, but no budget to do so. Sneaky, huh?

While you're at it, ask them to support Barney Frank's States Rights to Medical Marijuana bill (HR 2087). This bill gets to the heart of what Justice Stevens said. It reclassifies marijuana from a federally-illegal Schedule I drug (like heroin, acid, or magic mushrooms) to a federally-prescribable Schedule II drug (like cocaine, methamphetamine, angel dust, OxyContin, and morphine). </ActivistMode>

Oh, and about your post - beautiful, as always. How can anyone look into the eyes of a seriously ill person like Angel Raich, Montel Williams, or any of us, and tell them they can't have the only drug that alleviates their pain and suffering? It is the height of cruelty, tyranny, and illogic.

"If people let government decide which foods they eat and medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state
as are the souls of those who live under tyranny." -- THOMAS JEFFERSON

Scott said...

Russ is right - as unfortunate as the outcome is, the court was really using the medicinal pot issue to talk about states rights. What's unfortunate is that the US government has refused to even study the issue or to discuss it.
Anyway, that was a pretty powerful post. It's wonderful that you became so close to Maggie through all that.

Shark-fu said...

Thanks for the feedback, y'all. And the clarification, too!

Mighty MaMa said...

I always could tell that you'd make a great friend. Underneath all that ass kickin' attitude is someone that really cares for causes & the ones she loves.

Diva in Training said...

Wow. I was just blog hopping and I came upon your site. Great story.

Nemebabe said...

Oy - it's not easy to make me tear up. What a great story. My ex's uncle was dying of AIDS (not uncommon where I am from, but of course it was hushed up as hell...in fact I was told he had cancer) and I'm not ashamed to say that I scored for him more than once - it's too hard to watch someone suffer that needlessly.

Absolut Billy said...

ONe of the most moving images I keep in my memory is being at the Race For The Cure my first time. Evryone got their white race tshirt, but then I started to notice a pink shirt here and there. Then more. Then hundreds. All representing those that have kicked cancers ass. They assembled them all in the shape of a heart and took a photo from a crane. We hear so many sad stories about those that have been taken from us by cancer, it was refreshing to see something positive like that.

BaltimoreLenore said...

Beautifully moving ABB.

breast cancer treatment said...

While I was searching through Blogger I came past your site, it is not really the information I was after about breast cancer treatment but I did stay to read your blog and found it interesting and well done. Keep up the good work and hopefully I will visit again sometime and also find the information on breast cancer treatment that I was looking for in my travels.

The Happy Little Stoner said...

My mom passed away last September from breast cancer that had spread into her spinal cord. She was so sick from the treatments and in the end bloated from steroids her doctors put her on. I asked about getting her prescription pot, but she didn't think it would help any. The same type of chemotherapy that was used on my mom when it hit her spine was used 14 years ago. This is utter fucking bullshit. There will never be a cure for cancer or a way for patients to "legally" absolve the pain of chemo as long as drug companies are making so much money. There's bigger issues the government should focus on than pot, like why there isn't a goddamned cure for cancer yet. However, I do think that pot should be legalized for medicinal purposes. There really are benifits. But, of course, the US government will always go with the issues that get the most headlines rather than working on the issues that have the most meaning for thousands everywhere.