Marijuana Kills Crippling Pain for Cancer-sufferer
Cancer-sufferer Paul Lawrence says he survives crippling daily pain with medical marijuana, including a breakfast marijuana smoothie, joints and hash oil throughout the day.
The 52-year-old from Wollongong underwent a world-first operation in 2010 to remove a chordoma, a rare spinal tumour, the size of a football.
At the time he was given just months to live and told there was a high likelihood he would die during surgery.
The operation required removing three vertebra and rebuilding his spine with ribs, a leg bone and more than 55 pieces of titanium.
“That’s why I’m always going to be in pain, because people think my back’s sore all the time,” Mr Lawrence said.
“My back isn’t sore all the time. I can permanently feel all the structures in me.
“It’s uncomfortable but it’s not the agonising part. Where my bones are missing, that hurts like hell.“
For the first four years Mr Lawrence relied on a daily cocktail of painkillers including tramadol and endone and sleeping tablets like valium.
It left him bedridden, and about nine months ago he switched to medical marijuana.
“After about a month of not taking the medications it was like a fog started to clear, and I just looked back at what I’d not been doing for the last four years and thought ‘this is ridiculous’,” he said.
“Since I’ve given up pain meds I ride a push bike, I get in the water and try and swim.“
‘If he is getting benefits… he has my full support’
A recent study by the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) reported a number of other sufferers of chronic pain believed marijuana was an effective treatment.
Neurosurgeon Dr Ralph Mobbs performed the operation on Mr Lawrence.
It was so complicated he had a paper published on it so others around the world could learn from it.
“We did try some techniques that we hadn’t come across before,” Dr Mobbs told 7.30.
“We used pieces of his ribs that were so-called vascularised grafts and pieces of his leg bones that we had to plug into vessels in his abdomen so that they would stay alive.
VIDEO: Watch Conor Duffy’s 7.30 report on medical marijuana. (7.30)
“So a lot of what we tried we really couldn’t find had been attempted before or at least on that order of magnitude.“
Dr Mobbs gave Mr Lawrence his blessing to use medical marijuana for his pain and said modern medicine was running out of options to continue treating him.
“We don’t have much to offer him,” he said.
“With his ongoing symptoms, if he gets benefit out of pursuing alternative medicines, if he is getting benefits, whether it’s real or perceived, if he is getting benefits then he has my full support to pursue them.“
Dr Colin Chen from Sydney’s Prince of Wales Hospital is Mr Lawrence’s oncologist and said he was amazed by his resilience through a gruelling schedule of radiotherapy after the operation.
“He’s amazing,” Dr Chen said.
“He travelled daily, obviously, from Wollongong, some days he came with his partner but some days he came by himself on the train.
“Never complained – he had a huge pain threshold.“
Dr Chen said there may be a small group of patients for whom marijuana is effective for pain relief but warned of potential side effects of lung and mental health problems.
“I like to be open minded about this,” Dr Chen said.
“Certainly, I can see it seems to work really well for Paul.
“I think on a larger scale the best thing to do in this situation is to have a clinical trial.“
Source: ABC News Au