How Marijuana Has Helped Me Live With the Pain of My Rare Disease


I am a 23-year-old, full-time student and life enthusiast. I take about 23 tablets to get through all my daily routines. I also receive chemotherapy every four weeks and every three months I require an intravenous immunoglobulin infusion, called Polygam, to keep my muscles functioning and keep me breathing. I have survived open heart surgery and many medical procedures over the last three years. Lastly, I like to end my day off with a joint of “Big Bud” to ease my chronic pain.

If you found the last sentence of that paragraph to be the most shocking, I hope that by the end of this article you would like to reconsider that opinion. It is quite difficult to write down your opinion on the influence of something on your life, when you previously had misinformed opinions about it yourself. I was a healthy 19-year-old when I thought of weed as “the gateway drug.” I never put too much thought into forming that opinion about cannabis, as I never really thought it would influence my life directly.

I was diagnosed with myasthenia gravis, a rare autoimmune disease that affects the neuromuscular junction, just before my twentieth birthday. It basically means I have really weak muscles and I tire very easily. The worst part about having a rare disease is your treatment options are quite limited, and more often than not, the clinical understanding of your disease is extremely inaccurate. This leaves you with symptoms and side effects that most doctors cannot explain or actually treat. For example, all the legal chemotherapy I have been receiving in between my classes for the past 10 months has resulted in a side effect that doctors cannot really treat. I have excruciating back pain that leaves me immobile and bed-bound for weeks. As a result of all the copious amounts prescribed legal pills I force down my throat every day, my organs are under a lot of stress. Placing me on yet another chronic pain medication is not an ideal option, as these pills come with even more side effects. I am already struggling to take notes in class as the legal chemotherapy I receive makes my fingernails fall off. The legal pills also basically destroyed my appetite when they destroyed the inner lining of my stomach.

The only effective treatment for most of the side effects I am forced to endure, is taking a strong hit from my bong or drinking a cannabis oil capsule. The pain fades out and sometimes I can even eat more than one meal a day due to the very famous side effect of marijuana, which we all know as “munchies.”  How can you call me a criminal for wanting to experience relief? By not standing up, by not educating those around you, you are denying me, and others like me, access to the medicine we so dearly need.

If cannabis had been legalized already, perhaps there would have been sufficient research done in treating disease similar to mine. Perhaps I would not have had to live with the lasting effects from the poison that is chemo. I never thought my opinion on cannabis would matter, and here I am pleading with others to open their minds to the suffering they can help prevent. If we only broke the stigma.

I am a patient pleading for help, not a criminal wanting her next fix. Cannabis has provided me with relief that doctors were unable to provide. It has kept me calm and it plays a big part in why I am able to be a happy person, despite my health problems. You never know when our roles might be reversed.

Above all else, cannabis has helped me to remain calm during a very difficult time in my life. It allowed me to return to normal. Why should I go to jail for wanting to be happy? That is why I have decided to represent my views on cannabis with a new rhyme that I find to be most suited to my reality: “All we need is a little bit of weed.”

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