Fighting Post-Cancer Pain CBD

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Fighting Post-Cancer Pain: CBD Worked for Me

A little over a month ago, I wrote a post about the possibilities of using medical marijuana in conjunction with post-cancer pain. In this follow-up post, I’d like to add more information from my personal experience with cannabidiol, also known as CBD.

When my naturopathic doctor recommended I begin using CBD to help manage pain, I was shocked. I was very unfamiliar with CBD. Although I’d been seeing and hearing a lot about it on social media, the only thing I really knew was what I’d read. I had no first-hand knowledge. I did understand that CBD was derived from the same plant known as marijuana, or Cannabis Sativa. CBD, according to my doctor, was the good part—without the psychoactive component of the plant called tetrahydrocannabinol, otherwise known as THC. Taking CBD oil, he assured, would not cause me to feel “high.”

For many months, the post-cancer pain I’d been experiencing had grown increasingly troublesome. I’d visited the doctor several times to find a solution and we’d discussed options such as chiropractic care, acupuncture, nerve blocks and even surgery. Not only was I suffering from post-cancer body pain, I also struggled with secondary lymphedema, degenerative spinal issues and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The pain and the anxiety I felt on a daily basis had become overwhelming. I needed help but didn’t want to go the prescription pain medication route. I was fearful about the possibility of chemical dependency and addiction.

Doctor’s Orders

The doctor recommended I take two cannabinoids, cannabigerol and cannabidiol. Cannabigerol(CBG) was a lesser known cannabinoid that worked well with the body’s own endocannabinoid system. I didn’t really understand it, but according to information found on the website leafly.com, things became a little more clear. Leafly, the largest cannabis website in the world, said:

“To understand the human endocannabinoid system, it’s helpful to know a little about one of the most fundamental concepts in biology: homeostasis. And the best way to understand homeostasis is to think of Goldilocks and the three bears. That classic fairy tale illustrated the idea that the best outcome often lies somewhere in the middle, between two extremes. We don’t want things too hot or too cold, but just right. Homeostasis is the concept that most biological systems are actively regulated to maintain conditions within a narrow range. Our body doesn’t want its temperature to be too hot or too cold, blood sugar levels too high or too low, and so on. Conditions need to be just right for our cells to maintain optimum performance, and exquisite mechanisms have evolved to draw them back to the Goldilocks zone if they move out. The body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a vital molecular system for helping maintain homeostasis—it helps cells stay in their Goldilocks zone.”

After reading that information, I did think the cannabinoids would be good for my body. Anything that could help keep things in balance and prevent a recurrence of cancer was for me.

Along with the CBG, it was also recommended I begin taking cannabidiol (CBD), another natural component of the cannabis plant. Taking the CBG and CBD in conjunction with one another should give me good results, the doctor assured me.

Leaving the cancer treatment center, I was given information to purchase the CBG and CBD tinctures locally. The mom-and-pop shop selling the cannabis products was just around the corner from the hospital, so I went immediately to make my purchases.

Upon entering the shop, I felt skittish. I had no idea what I needed to buy. The shop owner began to show and explain about each product. I could choose from oil-based tinctures, gel capsules, vaping pens or even gummy candies. There were many strengths available, too. Relying on the advice of the shop owner, I left the store with one small bottle of CBG and one of CBD. Each one-ounce bottle cost just under $100.

Experimenting with Cannabinoids

Taking the products home, I planned the first dose of CBG after lunch. Assuming it would be best taken with food, I was excited and nervous.

Drawing up the greenish oil into the glass dropper, I readied my mouth to accept the liquid. I’d been instructed to place one dropper full of oil underneath my tongue. As I did so, I noticed a heady taste, almost like liquid grass. There were no immediate side effects noticed after ingesting, but I’d been told it could take up to two hours for the effects to be felt. I made a mental note to watch for side effects and share them with my physician.

That evening, I took my next dose. This time I’d be trying the CBD oil. Unlike the CBG, this tincture had been flavored with peppermint oil to make it more palatable. The taste was definitely better but even without a flavoring, the taste of the CBG hadn’t been unbearable— just different.

The effects of the CBD weren’t realized until the following morning when I discovered I’d slept soundly through the night— the first time I’d done that in several years.

Continuing to use the CBG and the CBD oils for the next few days, I noticed a significant decrease in my pain level. In fact, I barely noticed any pain at all! A feeling of relaxation was present as well. I was pleasantly surprised. These were significant changes that could only be attributed to the tinctures.

At the beginning of the third week, I found it necessary to add another dropper of the CBG to my daily regimen. I’d been only taking one dropper full of CBG in the morning and one dropperful of CBD at night before bed. With only two doses a day, I’d find myself needing something during the middle of the day as breakthrough pain would begin. “Since each body is different,” the doctor had said, I would need to make adjustments “to find what worked best.” In essence, I was going to have to be a human guinea pig.

After a month of using both products, my overall physical health has improved. I’ve finally found the right combination of CBG and CBD that works for me. Before starting the products, controlling bodily pain was a challenge. I’d tried over the counter anti-inflammatory medication but it didn’t help. With the cannabinoids, I could definitely tell the difference. I was surprised at how quickly I saw the benefits appear.

Shopping for CBD

The products I used for this experiment contained 24 mg of cannabidiol per dropper, but as I’ve searched online for other products, I’ve noticed most of them contain lesser amounts of CBD per ml. Conducting an online search for comparable products has been daunting. There are so many companies selling CBD products. Since none are federally regulated or tested, the consumer shoulders the responsibility to research products and companies before making a purchase.

A wide variety of CBD and CBG products are available for consumers to choose from. Some companies making and selling these products are transparent about which parts of the cannabis plant are used in making their products and some are not. Some claim hemp oil is the same thing as CBD, but that’s inaccurate. Hemp oil is made from the seeds of the cannabis plant while cannabis oil comes from the flowers, leaves and stalks.

And while CBD products may contain trace amounts of THC—not enough to get a person high— there are definite benefits to using it. Cannabidiol has been shown to help alleviate symptoms of anxiety, reduce pain and inflammation, reduce the frequency of epileptic seizures, reduce inflammation related to diabetes and may even help fight cancer!

Some states have legalized the use of cannabis for medicinal use while others have approved the use of CBD products, as long as they fall under the category of being a hemp-only product. Hemp oil products can provide an alternative to medical marijuana for those who are unable to legally obtain it in their state.

If interested in trying CBD products, please do your homework. Not all companies are legitimate in their product advertisement. Remember the old adage: buyer beware. CBD products are popular but they’re also unregulated. Without government guidelines, some companies provide substandard products that may contain unhealthy ingredients such as pesticides or solvents.

Finding High-Quality CBD: Do Your Homework!

When shopping for CBD oil, how can you know that you’re getting a quality product? Legitimate companies that are interested in providing quality products for their consumers adhere to specific guidelines and standards they’ve set for themselves. They are usually willing to openly share details of their product-making and quickly answer consumers’ questions. These companies may also use third party testing to verify product quality.

The market is saturated with an ever-growing number of companies selling products made from the cannabis plant. However, with a little research, it is possible to make a wise decision and reap the healthy benefits of CBD.

If interested in trying CBD for health benefits, talk with your medical professional. Ask for suggestions on usage and for suggestions on suppliers.

Bottom line – I have been pleasantly surprised by CBG and CBD. It was helpful to have guidance from a medical professional on where to purchase a safe, quality product, what dosage to consume and how to alleviate pain naturally. I don’t think I could have made an informed decision on my own without some guidance.

There are so many things to consider when buying CBG and CBD. There are literally thousands of products available online. Conducting your own internet search will provide a lot of valuable information and you’ll probably learn some new terms, such as terpenes and terpenoids.

If you’d prefer a shortcut to choosing products, check out this site for a quick introduction.

Using CBG and CBD can be part of an alternative therapy program, but as stated earlier in this post, each person’s body is different and the results may not always be the same. Each person must decide what is right for his/her own health.

Most CBG and CBD products on the market today contain under 0.3% THC. This is important to note especially when making purchases in states that have not legalized marijuana. Any product containing more THC would fall under the guidelines of those used for medical marijuana and may require a written prescription for purchase and carry.

Disclosure: The results I’ve received since using these tinctures has been amazing. I will continue to use the CBG and CBD products because of the beneficial results I’ve experienced. I will give a positive report to my oncologist at my visit next month.

 

‘There’s An App For That!’

I enjoy finding programs and services that improve the way I live with metastatic cancer. These can be things I take advantage of in-person, such as the Livestrong and YMCA collaboration, which re-introduced me to muscle-strengthening after my cancer diagnosis, but one of my favorite new ways to better my life with cancer is through “apps” on my phone. Three entries have quickly become don’t-miss technology for me as a patient, providing three very different experiences.

First up is My MBC & Me, created by Share Cancer Support. Some months ago, I was invited by Share to be part of a group of patients providing (free) feedback as it developed the app. I have been waiting to see how the organization incorporated the patients’ many suggestions about what we need in an app designed to help us clarify our concerns, goals, treatments and more.

On this app, I can quickly get into a section to upload links to research I want to share; I can pose questions for my doctor by typing or speaking into my phone; and I can record visit notes on the app itself with clear identification of the date and which doctor was seen. I can keep track of symptoms and treatments through typed words and also through pictures.

All of these features will continue to be useful to me as a person with cancer because they encourage me to follow-up with questions and concerns. I believe there will be times when .PDF printouts of the information will be useful to share with my healthcare team. Too often, I find that office visits don’t allow enough time to get across what my life is actually like. I can see how being organized ahead of time, with concerns printed out in a standard form will make it easier to communicate. Right now, this app is only available for iPhone users.

I am also a fan of the MBC Alliance app MBC Connect (also available on the web), which, among other things, aggregates data from the metastatic breast cancer patients who complete surveys on the app/website. While My MBC & Me is designed to improve communication between yourself and the rest of your healthcare team, MBC Connect brings survey data and resources to you through its “Insights” tab. In addition, the aggregate de-identified data is available to researchers who can use it to find trends and solidify research ideas or submit questions for additional surveys on the app.

One planned expansion to MBC Connect, “coming soon” I’ve been told, is linking to clinical trial information. I think this is an exciting prospect since this app’s style is to “push” information to you based on what you enter. If all I have to do is click a “Trials” tab to see a list aligned to my needs, the app could encourage discussion of clinical trials with my oncologist when I need to change treatment. It is so much easier when the information is given to you rather than you having to search it out.

Also present on my phone’s dashboard is the Army of Women app, which is new from the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation. Army of Women is a program that seeks to unite researchers with the research participants they need. It is possible to go to Army of Women online to find the trials, but the app is nice because it is easy to filter research to your specifics. Once you enter that information, in the “Participate” area, you will receive studies that may be of interest along with a link to connect you to the researcher (where you will need to answer further questions). It is important to keep in mind that the research on Army of Women is only a small percentage of all the cancer research being conducted in the United States and elsewhere. Larger trial search engines, such as that at clinicaltrials.gov or more specific search engines, such as the metastatic breast cancer trial search, will provide a more complete idea of current research.

There are also sections with articles to read, including publications from prior Army of Women-supported studies, and links to videos written by Dr. Susan Love about many aspects of breast cancer.

The leap to health apps has been fun and easy for me, but it may not be for everyone. Although I enjoy technology, I’ve limited health-related apps to four at this time. There are many that pop up with a search for cancer or health, so I use commonsense about personal information and if they are not useful, or are tedious, they won’t make the cut for my busy life.

 

If I Write One Sentence That Gives Another Cancer Survivor Hope, Then It Is Worth It

Keep your hope. I am a survivor of two different cancers (breast and melanoma) and almost nine years later, I am still here. Keep your hope. We, as humans, are designed to be able to keep hope. Sometimes the way to keep hope is to keep in mind that there will be an end date to chemotherapy and other treatments and surgeries. Sometimes hope is something less tangible that involves spirituality or faith. There are many ways to keep hope and I encourage you to find yours.

A cancer diagnosis is a life changing diagnosis. Unless you have it, I don’t think a lot of people truly understand that on a gut level even if they understand intellectually. Many cancer survivors fear their cancer, a recurrence, or a new cancer. You are not alone. Cancer is not just something to “get through.” It is a possibility that we learn to live “with.” Still, as a two-time cancer survivor, I encourage you to keep your hope.

You are not alone. Through in-person and online support groups and a talk therapist, it is possible to connect with others who understand what you are feeling. And, yes, you will get through cancer – you will not always be in active treatment. More of us are living longer. As you put more time, distance and treatment between you and your initial cancer diagnosis, you will move forward and life will get better.

Take a breath. Actively work to slow down the racing thoughts. That might mean a journal or a list to get those spinning thoughts out of your brain. It might mean distraction, meditation, keeping your hands busy or choosing to focus on your senses in the moment to slow down time a little. You will learn what comforts you.

Things will get better. Life will get better – not the same as it was before cancer, but better than it feels at the time of diagnosis and active treatment. Hang onto hope with both hands! Enjoy the breaks, focus on the happy moments, however brief they may seem, and keep moving forward.

I wish doctors could instill more hope at the time of the initial cancer diagnosis. They may be cautious about this because they may not know exactly which type of cancer you have or how your body will react to the surgeries and treatments it needs. Maybe they could just acknowledge what you are feeling, perhaps saying something like, “Hey, I know this sounds super frightening. Try to take a breath and let’s figure this out together.” Would that help, maybe a little?

The loneliness and fear are definitely real. Cancer hurts physically, mentally and emotionally. Still, there can be hope. I wish doctors would be quicker to connect their patients with cancer talk therapists and cancer support groups, and maybe even a fellow survivor of the same type of cancer. This might take some of the pressure off the doctor and help the cancer patient too! You can get through this and live with this, so please reach out to others and keep your hope!

 

Male Breast Cancer Survivors: Waiting For Our Ship To Come In

When I hear that Senator Edward Brooke or the former drummer from Kiss have male breast cancer, I have mixed feelings. Part of me is sympathetic toward their plight of course. It’s an “Orphan Disease” worthy of much more research, fundraising and public visibility. On the other hand, celebrity creates interest. And interest no doubt spawns knowledge. So, these recognizable faces bring with them a peculiar disease; one that gets our attention by virtue of its rarity.

Scientists have long studied the reasons that celebrities seem to carry some sort of voice of authority and trust from the public who adores them. Most psychologists say it’s perfectly normal since humans are social creatures. We live in a world where it has been useful to pay attention to the people at the top of their chosen fields. And all of our enthrallment has been feverishly fed by social media and technology.

And that’s OK with me. Whatever it takes to bring our rare form of cancer into mainstream conversation seems like a good idea – so long as it’s a positive message.

Since becoming a male breast cancer advocate pretty much since the day I was diagnosed, just short of five years back, I’ve seen support for men begin to blossom – or at least sprout. The Male Breast Cancer Coalition in New York was formed the same year as my mastectomy in 2014. And now there are a variety of other groups on Facebook and Twitter, along with informal fellowships and blogs on internet sites around the world. I work with and am supported by a powerful alliance of guys in Australia, so our brotherly bond reaches far beyond the banks of our own continent.

But make no mistake. We are still a small piece of the proverbial pie when it comes to breast cancer awareness. There is a pink connection that influences everything we do, and naturally it’s the overwhelming numbers of women diagnosed with the disease who create this disparity between male and female breast cancers. It’s no fault of theirs, of course. I wholeheartedly support the women with breast cancer. But it will take some more work and unfortunately, a few more “celebrity” men with my disease to kick the world view of male breast cancer up a notch.

In the meantime, we do our best to support the 2,670 new guys who are diagnosed with breast cancer each year while recognizing and honoring the 500 or so who die. Naturally it’s going to take a lot more than a few well-known men with my disease to stir a good splash of blue into the pink paint pot of breast cancer. It will require the incessant ambition from guys to add their voices to the mix. It will take Time, Information, Dedication and Education to influence what I like to call the changing “T.I.D.E.” of male breast cancer.

And it is changing.

We may not have the conventions or conferences to gather lots of male breast cancer survivors together in one place, or the sponsors and pharmaceuticals to support our fundraisers, but we’ve prepared for something that is much more formidable and promising than that. We’ve rolled up our pant legs and stepped boldly into the turbulence of that changing tide. And from there we will keep a steadfast and dedicated vigil to inform and educate – until our ship comes in.

www.MaleBreastCancerSurvivor.com

 

Male Breast Cancer Survivors: Waiting For Our Ship To Come In

When I hear that Senator Edward Brooke or the former drummer from Kiss have male breast cancer, I have mixed feelings. Part of me is sympathetic toward their plight of course. It’s an “Orphan Disease” worthy of much more research, fundraising and public visibility. On the other hand, celebrity creates interest. And interest no doubt spawns knowledge. So, these recognizable faces bring with them a peculiar disease; one that gets our attention by virtue of its rarity.

Scientists have long studied the reasons that celebrities seem to carry some sort of voice of authority and trust from the public who adores them. Most psychologists say it’s perfectly normal since humans are social creatures. We live in a world where it has been useful to pay attention to the people at the top of their chosen fields. And all of our enthrallment has been feverishly fed by social media and technology.

And that’s OK with me. Whatever it takes to bring our rare form of cancer into mainstream conversation seems like a good idea – so long as it’s a positive message.

Since becoming a male breast cancer advocate pretty much since the day I was diagnosed, just short of five years back, I’ve seen support for men begin to blossom – or at least sprout. The Male Breast Cancer Coalition in New York was formed the same year as my mastectomy in 2014. And now there are a variety of other groups on Facebook and Twitter, along with informal fellowships and blogs on internet sites around the world. I work with and am supported by a powerful alliance of guys in Australia, so our brotherly bond reaches far beyond the banks of our own continent.

But make no mistake. We are still a small piece of the proverbial pie when it comes to breast cancer awareness. There is a pink connection that influences everything we do, and naturally it’s the overwhelming numbers of women diagnosed with the disease who create this disparity between male and female breast cancers. It’s no fault of theirs, of course. I wholeheartedly support the women with breast cancer. But it will take some more work and unfortunately, a few more “celebrity” men with my disease to kick the world view of male breast cancer up a notch.

In the meantime, we do our best to support the 2,670 new guys who are diagnosed with breast cancer each year while recognizing and honoring the 500 or so who die. Naturally it’s going to take a lot more than a few well-known men with my disease to stir a good splash of blue into the pink paint pot of breast cancer. It will require the incessant ambition from guys to add their voices to the mix. It will take Time, Information, Dedication and Education to influence what I like to call the changing “T.I.D.E.” of male breast cancer.

And it is changing.

We may not have the conventions or conferences to gather lots of male breast cancer survivors together in one place, or the sponsors and pharmaceuticals to support our fundraisers, but we’ve prepared for something that is much more formidable and promising than that. We’ve rolled up our pant legs and stepped boldly into the turbulence of that changing tide. And from there we will keep a steadfast and dedicated vigil to inform and educate – until our ship comes in.

www.MaleBreastCancerSurvivor.com

 

Reference: https://www.curetoday.com/community/barbara-tako/2019/04/If-I-Write-One-Sentence-That-Gives-Another-Cancer-Survivor-Hope-Then-It-Is-Worth-It

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