I’ve recently been presented with a “medical emergency” in my family – my brother has been diagnosed as having Lung Cancer Stage IV. That means the cancer has spread beyond the lung and cannot really be cured. It can, however, be treated to prolong life, with Chemotherapy.
He’s only been aware of his condition for less than a week, and has been in hospital most of that time. He was symptom free actually although he had some issues that suggested he had Diabetes Type II. So, he went in to have some tests done, and they confirmed Diabetes, but also picked up on the Cancer, and he was immediately rushed by ambulance to Flinders Hospital, where he’s been ever since. They are treating him for the Diabetes with tablets and injections, and are just at the beginning stage of planning treatment for the Cancer. Surgery won’t get rid of it, Radiation won’t get rid of it, as it’s progressed too far, which means that Chemo might shrink it and thus prolong his life expectancy.
Right now he has been told he will live only for a couple more months without treatment, and with it, he can expect to survive at least 6 months. For Lung Cancer the survival rates aren’t very high; within 2 years just over 50% of all patients have died, and by 4 years almost 80% have passed away. That’s for all types and stages of Lung Cancer, not only the very advanced Stage III and IV.
It just means it’s a very hard to control disease without much hope for long term survival. But he’s lucky he lives in South Australia because the Flinders Medical Centre, which was built in the early 70s, has a reputation as one of the best Cancer treatment centres in the world.
He had another problem during this period, namely he was being sued locally by a psychic for Libel. He was too preoccupied to attend the court hearings, though, and a judgement was handed down by judge alone, ordering him to pay over $26,000 compensation to the Psychic. The Libel had been published on his web-site and had been read by less than 20 people, even though the web site had a following of over 200,000. The Psychic had copied the web site which identified him, and had presented it to the court as evidence. Apparently, my brother had disparaged the Psychic, calling him an “ambulance chaser” who preyed upon the sick and vulnerable. The Psychic had a lawyer act for him, while my brother didn’t, which is why the judgment went against him. He simply didn’t put up any counter arguments to the Libel charge. Obviously, though, he won’t be paying it, because apart from the fact he simply can’t afford to, there’s also the newly discovered fact, that he probably won’t be around long enough for any further legal actions to be taken against him. In the meantime he’s been given 21 days to pay the $26,000 “fine” or face more legal actions.
Yesterday, when I visited him in hospital, he was watching some U-tube videos on the console that every bed has next to it. These consoles are very up to date and have TV, pay TV, and broadband access, for a small fee. You can only imagine the bandwidth required to service a hospital that size! It has more than 1,000 beds.
Anyway, the video was in a category named: Medical Marijuana. There were over 500 videos in the category, and you needed to subscribe in order to view complete videos, which of course, my brother hadn’t done. So, the video he was watching ended abruptly after an hour and no matter what he tried, it just wouldn’t go any further without him joining a subscription. But the video was interesting and contained information I’d seen before on the SBS TV network (Special Broadcast Services). They had presented a couple shows on the Medical Marijuana issue sweeping America, which focused on using the stuff to treat Cancer. The U-tube video took a similar approach.
It said that there is a system within the body that appears to be specifically designed by nature to interact with the various substances found in Marijuana, in a way that’s beneficial to the individual. It calms him, reduces his blood pressure, and where there is Cancer, tends to fight against it to the death. The video had some patients who claimed they had been cured of various types of Cancer simply by using Marijuana; there were skin cancer subjects, lung cancer and brain cancer subjects, who stated that they used up to 10 marijuana cigarettes a day to relieve pain, and as it turned out, the Marijuana seemed to also kill off the Cancer cells. One subject said he’d lived for more than 12 years after being diagnosed with Skin cancer, and he attributed that to his daily use of Marijuana. Another subject described how he was enrolled in a Federal US government program, that dispensed Marijuana cigarettes to medical patients as a trial. The government arranged to grow the marijuana, and turn it into cigarettes, and would supply this man with over 500 such “joints” every one or two months, and they had been doing it for many years. He estimated they had already given him, for free, more than 100,000 such cigarettes. He said he had survived Cancer for so long as a direct result of taking Marijuana daily in 10 separate doses.
In the same video, they did present a discussion about the negative “side effects” of Marijuana, that included the “high” that people use the stuff to achieve in the first place. But they listed another “side effect” as the onslaught of Psychotic episodes that can bring about a state of Schizophrenia. Remember, this was a video produced by health care professionals to support a case for further research into the medical use of Marijuana!
They also described the benefits of it, to persons getting Cancer treatments, who most probably could not be cured. These included a “better appetite” and reduction of pain.
It’s not surprising, therefore, to see how many states in America have gone the “legalise” route and made Marijuana more easily obtained. There are places where recreational use has also been decriminalised!
A similar movement has existed in Australia since the early 70s, but they have not had much success in legalising the drug thus far because the negative reports about Mental Health issues have been high lighted while the positive benefits, such as possible use in Cancer treatment, have been almost completely ignored. Yet, there are outspoken people in Australia who have been filmed talking about their use of Marijuana when they had serious health issues, such as Cancer. Again, I’ve seen such films on the SBS TV channel.
I’ve supported the legalisation of the use of Marijuana since the early 70s, both for recreational purposes as well as for medicinal reasons. I don’t see any conflict between the two, and believe the negative “side effects” reportage is exaggerated and can be overcome by the right attitude when one uses Marijuana. Quite often, in recreational use settings, the experience the user wants, is exactly what the medicos call the “negative side effects.”
It’s said the main reason against medicalization of Marijuana is that because it’s a natural plant they’re talking about, it can’t be patented, which means drug companies can’t exploit it as badly as they do stuff they hold patents on. After all, it would have to be a drug company which did the research and came up with a way to use it as a medicine; so far their approach has been the “usual” : to think in terms of isolating some part of the Marijuana plant and calling it the “active ingredient” while rejecting the other 399 parts. Those who support medicalization believe, overall, that you must use the whole plant to get the positive result. Nature, they say, developed the plant along with our internal system which seems perfectly designed to dovetail with Marijuana use in a very positive life supporting way. The one problem is the way you have to ingest it: through smoking.
Everyone knows that inhaling smoke into your body is going to have its risks. With tobacco it involves more than 40,000 different substances the smoke contains, and with Marijuana it’s something like 400 different compounds the smoke contains. There’s more “tar” in Marijuana smoke than in Tobacco smoke. That seems to be a fact well supported by scientific evidence. And it means that smoking Marijuana is more harmful than smoking Tobacco, and again, everyone knows that smoking Tobacco is a leading cause of Cancer (both of Lung Cancer and various other Cancers).
That’s one dilemma! You might gain positive benefits from using Marijuana, but at the same time you get negative effects as well — beyond the so-called mental ones.
In some ways this whole contradiction brings us to the questions about “What is the meaning of Life?”
Since everyone is going to die, and since everyone has come into this world through birth, there doesn’t seem to be any actual purpose as to why we are hear. If you don’t accept there is a Supreme Being, God, you also don’t need to believe in purpose or some Divine Plan, which means life doesn’t hold any significance apart from what it means to all things that live. We’re just a part of Grand nature, which “designed” us to live in harmony with all aspects of itself; but that came about through trial and error rather than through the intervention of a Higher Being who said, Let there be Light and it was so.
No, there is no such Being and no such method for creating things and processes in this world, and there never has been. It’s a very naive, or immature, belief system that talks about a God, you see.
Our philosophy has come a long way since those times and we have come to accept, perhaps reluctantly, the fact that we are a random product of natural forces and not a special creation of some Majestic God.
From that perspective, the use of a natural plant like Marijuana, to gain pleasure and health is not very fanciful; it’s been done the same way in India and China for centuries and both cultures are such that they don’t support the likes of the Biblical singular Deity.
Here you see a small marijuana plant about to blossom, circa 2012.