In this article:
I would like to share my personal story of surviving multiple cancers through cannabinoid medication, an alternative treatment that has been the focus of my research for years before the diagnosis.
I founded the Global Cannabinoid Research Center in Santa Barbara, California, and advocated the use of cannabis oils and CBD extensively for severe epilepsy, Chronic Lyme Disease, PTSD, and in pain management.
But my tryst with cancer made me use it for my own condition with promising results, when traditional chemotherapy pushed me into paralysis
How did I get cancer?
I was first diagnosed with cancer in 2003. I had multiple problems with root canals (dental work), and a dentist told me that if I did not take care of the infections in my mouth, I could end up getting lymphoma. I thought he was paranoid and I did not pay attention.
Years later, in 2003, I had emergency dental work done on the same infected area of my mouth. The oral surgeon stopped working on me halfway through the procedure and sent me to the ER.
I was flabbergasted – in shock. I couldn’t believe I was in the ER over a root canal being done on my mouth.
The ER doctor told me that he needed to take a closer look at it and warned me that it could be non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma developing.
I went back to the oral surgeon where they finished their job and was warned that the lymph nodes in my neck were damaged by the ongoing infection and that’s literally how some lymphomas start. He told me that cancers come from bacteria quite often. (1)
What were the early signs of trouble?
At first, I just felt tired. I didn’t quite know what was wrong but I would push myself. In the initial cancer diagnosis and treatment back in 2003, I didn’t realize anything was wrong. I had healed up from dental work and thought that I was worn out.
Then I went surfing as I lived on Oahu, Hawaii, at that time. While out riding the waves, I fell back on the surfboard, hitting my head. I’m somewhat of a daredevil and do extreme sports even though I have epilepsy.
Thankfully, I had friends with me surfing, so when I hit my head on the surfboard, and it knocked me out, they were there to gather me up out of the water and bring me to shore.
An ambulance was called and took me to the hospital where a CT scan was done on my head and neck. They found that I was okay from the fall onto the hard wooden surfboard, but what they didn’t expect to find were four dark spots in my neck.
They showed me the images and explained to me that those were “bad lymph nodes” and that they’d need to immediately do surgery to remove them.
How was I diagnosed?
The first time that the doctor identified it was after the surfing incident. After spending one night in the hospital, I was woken up by a team with a surgeon, who came in and drew lines on my neck with a permanent marker.
He told me that the spots were really black and probably were malignant, meaning they were cancer.
I was scared, but he told me not to worry because my blood counts weren’t too bad. However, they definitely showed heavy signs of lymphoma. My white count was more than 100x normal.
What was my reaction to the diagnosis?
I wasn’t as scared about the positive test as I was about the surgeon coming in to see me and drawing lines on my neck with a permanent marker – that freaked me out.
I could handle the thought of having surgery, but looking at where I’d be cut into was just too much, so I asked to have them washed off. I knew cancer was a likelihood as it had taken multiple family members in the past.
I also knew that my fast-paced lifestyle, being a former race car driver, and traveling all around with a very stressful caseload as a civil rights lobbyist wore me out.
When I examined my life after hearing that I had cancer, it seemed like I wore myself out so bad. I ended up getting it that way.
What was my cancer treatment?
I’ve had cancer twice, first in 2003 and then in 2015 when it came back. However, not only did I have non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma when it came back in 2015, but I also had another type of Hodgkin’s lymphoma and prostate cancer – and all were stage 4.
In the first cancer battle back in 2003, the treatment was as bad, or worse, than cancer itself. Nobody warned me that there was a possibility of side effects beyond those one would expect from chemo and radiation.
I didn’t know that later in life, I’d develop multiple secondary cancers, but that wasn’t the horrible thing that happened to me when I chose the conventional route of treatment in 2003.
In 1995, I was paralyzed on the right side in a professional auto racing wreck and it took me about 2 years to get the full feeling back and no longer need wheelchairs and canes.
So, when I had cancer and treatment in 2003, I was already running, walking, surfing, and hiking. My life was busy and I was in awesome physical shape. But nobody had expected what happened, not even my doctor.
I had surgery where they cut out the bad lymph nodes from my neck, and then they started the radiation and chemotherapy treatments. Only 6 weeks into this, due to having epilepsy, I had to be hospitalized for the duration of treatment as I kept having really bad seizures.
Not even a week into that hospitalization, my right side went numb again. Chemo-induced paralysis is a real thing and can hit anyone who’s had a head injury before having Western medicine cancer treatment. (2)
After this happened, I stopped all treatments and demanded to be sent home. The hospital complied with my demands and released me.
But first, I had to be fitted for an electric wheelchair and had to make immediate arrangements to move into a handicap-accessible home.
Once again, I had a life of paralysis, but this time it wouldn’t be 2 years to get better. This time, there was no 200 mph racing wreck to make it happen – it was the doctors and medicine I trusted that put me in a wheelchair for 3 years.
For this reason, in 2015 when cancer came back and I was faced with not one but two secondary cancers, I chose cannabinoid medicine.
With the world ablaze with talk about how cannabis and hemp can treat cancers, I had to try this. There was no possible way after finding out I had multiple cancers again that I would risk being unable to walk or possibly even dying to chemotherapy.
If I was going to die, and I thought I was back then, it was going to be on my own terms. I got involved and started directing a very large cannabis compassion program that made and gave away cannabis oils to people with cancer and other illnesses.
My life changed suddenly and I became someone who researched night and day to develop alternative medicine protocols. There was no way I’d push myself around in a wheelchair again nor expose anyone I knew to a cancer treatment that actually causes more cancers – chemotherapy.
How did I cope with the stress?
In the 2003 cancer treatment, I was very stressed and worried. The thought of death was ongoing.
But in 2015, when cancer came back and hit me with two secondary cancers, I was a warrior. I believe that the treatment modality makes a big difference.
Of course, there’s no way to prove, without a doubt, that cannabis kills cancer and cures people. What is known is it treats the body in various ways (3) and that it’s a superfood and contains multiple plant constituents that treat various aspects of cancer that are what I call the “side orders.”
With all three cancers at stage 4, there was no room for that in the 2015 battle that actually lasted until February of 2019, when all three cancers were declared in full remission.
Throughout that 3 year battle, I steered clear of doctors as much as possible and instead went with cannabis oils and other alternative forms of medicines.
While running a compassion program that gave away oils to others that had cancer like me, I was too busy to be worried, have fear, or be afraid. Armed with extensive knowledge from researching it and a plant that I knew healed, I was confident I’d beat the cancers.
What was my biggest challenge throughout the treatment?
In 2003, my biggest challenge was western medicine and what it did to me – once again being in a wheelchair. Getting blood tests and imaging done with doctors on my side was a chore.
I had to go into the cancer treatment center or doctor/oncologist like I was going to accept their treatment in order to get staged, to see where the cancer was and if it was growing or backing off.
However, in 2015 the challenges were much greater although much less, if that makes any sense.
In 2016, I had control over it and went into remission, but it recurred. Again in 2017 and 2018, I had recurrences after going into remission.
One hard part about all of this is that word. So many people think remission means your cancer is dead and that’s not true at all. It means it’s not growing and it’s backing off.
Without using integrative health care, I found that alternative medicine can be too big of a risk. I had to make a decision to utilize my primary care doctor on a regular basis and that allowed me to end those recurrences and gain remission for good well over a year ago.
How would I describe my cancer journey?
It was the battle of a lifetime and, coming from a former professional race car driver, that’s a huge statement.
Not one moment on that racetrack compared to how on edge I was during the fight for my life. No huge wreck or fire-ridden accident startled me like hearing those words “you have cancer.”
You have to be this pillar of strength for all around you, or you’re putting others in a position to be depressed about your health, which makes you depressed.
Battling cancer is like being on a rollercoaster ride that doesn’t stop until the cancer is in full remission. At any given moment, you know that ride can be derailed and your life could end. Nothing has ever put fear in me as cancer has.
My appeal to those who take their health for granted
Stop thinking that you’re invincible. I lived life on the edge for decades as if nothing could take my life. When you battle against yourself, it changes things.
When you realize your own body can be, and often is, your worst enemy, it’s alarming. But what’s more shocking is when you find out that you were the one that gave your body the ammunition to fight you by:
- Not eating right
- Not sleeping well
- Wearing yourself out
All of these things give the bad blood cells in your body an advantage.
We all have cancer, it’s just a matter of whether or not the cells mass together enough to show in a test.
It was explained to me long ago that every person on this earth is precancerous with the very bacteria and more in them to allow cancer to grow, it’s all going to depend on how they treat their bodies.
Like a dummy, I smoked cigarettes for nearly 30 years and ate foods without caring where they came from. I always figured I had time to get healthy.
In 2003 when I first got it, I was 37 years old. When I look back at the whole battle now that I’m 54, I could have easily died before I hit 40 and it would have been due to arrogance and a lack of self-care.
My advice to other cancer patients
- Never quit fighting, and never forget that you are a warrior. You can’t count on outside forces to heal you, you’re going to have to do so yourself.
- Changing your diet immediately as soon as you hear the words that you “may have cancer” is imperative.
- Start drinking alkaline water and look at specific diets far before an oncologist suggests any type of treatment. And once the doctor gives you a treatment plan, give yourself a minimum of 24-48 hours before signing it.
- Treat yourself right and look into all options from natural to Western medicine.
- Remember that ultimately every choice you make once you start this battle could be your last, so make smart decisions.
- Do your research, and please try to relax as much as possible.
- I know it’s hard, but the more you stress over it, the harder it is to make the right choices about what to do.
- Find that higher power you believe in, whatever it is, and exercise your belief. If it’s meditation, do it often.
- If you believe in the power of prayer, then gather your prayer warriors and do not stop. Faith and belief will heal you, so believe in yourself.