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How cannabis and cancer intertwine for this Arizona family

Nov 4, 2021
“It’s probably the most angry and aggressive cancer that a person can have and it can come out of nowhere,” says Doug Bowden, her husband. As her son, Andrew, watched his mom stru ...

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In 2016, Mary Bowden was diagnosed with triple-negative, stage 3 breast cancer.

“It’s probably the most angry and aggressive cancer that a person can have and it can come out of nowhere,” says Doug Bowden, her husband.

As her son, Andrew, watched his mom struggle with pain and a lack of sleep and appetite as she endured 16 rounds of chemotherapy, he began searching for something to ease her symptoms. He found it in cannabis.

The family knew the founders of Item 9 Labs, an Arizona-based cannabis operator and dispensary franchisor, and Andrew gave his mom a cannabis tincture that the company produces.

Mary was skeptical at first, having never tried cannabis before. “I wasn’t sure what it was going to do me, but it was very easy,” she says. “It immediately relaxed me and let me sleep.”

For husband Doug, who felt “totally helpless” as a caregiver and was also experiencing anxiety, the tincture proved beneficial.

“It was a great solution,” he says. “I utilized some of Mary’s tincture and it was very helpful to me and it helped me get through all this, as well.”

As for Andrew, inspired by his mom’s success, he left his real estate career to join Item 9 Labs as a board member in 2018. A year later, he was appointed CEO.

“Cannabis is truly a medicine,” he said. “This is what will help future cancer patients thrive and enjoy the rest of their lives. I want to see everyone live life to their fullest, pain-free.”

A U.S. survey conducted earlier this year found that while many breast cancer patients are using cannabis to cope with cancer-related symptoms, they are hesitant to share this information with their doctors.

The online survey, involving more than 600 patients, found 42 per cent used medical cannabis to treat symptoms such as vomiting, pain, nausea, insomnia and stress, but only four per cent of those patients asked their physician’s further questions about cannabis and cancer.

“Some of these products can interact with treatments they are taking, and there is a safety issue there,” Dr. Marisa Weiss, lead author of the study, told NBC News. “We want to make sure they get relief from their symptoms without interfering with the treatments.”

Another study published earlier this year out of the University of New Mexico found that people suffering from nausea who consumed whole natural cannabis flower had at least some relief within five to 60 minutes.

The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology, also found that THC, a cannabinoid often associated with recreational use, seemed to offer patients more relief than CBD.

Researchers suggest future studies should focus on longer-term symptom relief, the risks of medical cannabis consumption and potential interactions between cannabis and other substances.

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