After a week of taking cannabis oil, cancer sufferer Anna Osborne is sleeping better and no longer has to take anti-nausea pills.
Osborne is undergoing chemotherapy for Hodgkins Lymphoma. She wants medical cannabis to be made more easily available.
Sativex is the only available medicinal cannabis in New Zealand, but it requires ministerial approval before use.
Osborne, whose husband, Milton, was killed in the Pike River mining disaster in 2010, was first diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma in 2002.
“I found a lump in my groin and went to the doctor thinking it wasn’t going to be anything serious so I was quite surprised it came back as Hodgkins Lymphoma. I was 36. My son was 5 and my daughter was 3 at the time,” she said.
She had radiation for six weeks and went into remission, but the cancer came back just before the Pike River tragedy.
“I remember the conversation I had with Milt. I was quite scared and I said ‘If anything happens to me thank God the kids have got you, you’re strong and healthy’.”
The tumour was contained in the groin and monitored by her oncologist.
“I left my life in my oncologists hands. We monitored it with regular check ups and scans. The tumours were growing but not acting aggressively.
“But just before Christmas 2015 the tumour was starting to strangle the lymphatic system in my leg so the fluids weren’t draining out of my leg properly and my leg was twice the size of my other leg. So the oncologist said it was time to start chemo,” she said.
She began chemotherapy on January 28 and will require fortnightly high-dose treatments for six months.
“Radiation was a breeze compared to chemo. I thought I’d handle it but chemo is awful. On my good days I’ve got some energy, but on the bad days I’m in bed with nausea, I’ve got the constant headaches. My whole mouth aches, I get ulcers so I can’t eat or drink anything.”
She questioned whether she should continue with her treatment.
Osborne said medical cannabis should be more easily available.
“I’m not doing P, I’m not selling it to children. I want to be open about it. If they want to come and arrest me they can come and arrest me.
“The amount of people that messaged me their support. Somebody got in touch and said I could come and try it. It took me a week and a bit of having it at home before I tried it. I felt like a criminal,” she said.
She began taking cannabis oil in a capsule of coconut oil at night.
“It is great. It’s working for me. I’m sleeping heaps better through the night and I’m waking up without feeling nauseous now. I’ve still got the pain, but not having the nausea and sleeping is incredible. I wake up with a clear head I’m not stoned. I haven’t had to take my anti-nausea pills. It’s amazing,” she said.
She called for the Government to “take a long hard look” and explore making it more readily available through doctors without delay.