Cannabis Patient Care - November 2021

Cannabis Patient Care November Issue

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26 patient & nurse focus cannabis patient care | vol. 2 no. 3 I N WOMEN, BREAST cancer is the second most common cancer, right after skin cancer (1). The best preventive care is through yearly mammograms which are able to detect breast cancer early, hopefully before the cancer has had the ability to spread. Globally, 2.3 million women were diagnosed with the illness in 2020 (2). Recent data says that about 1 in 8 women in the United States are diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetimes (3). One of those women was Nique Pichette, MSN, RN, who was diagnosed in 2011 and re-diagnosed in 2013. With her first diagnosis in 2011, Pichette had a full total left mastectomy. At first, her doctors were considering chemo and radiation, but opted for the mastectomy because of final lab results that came in. In 2013, only 18 months later, Pichette was diagnosed for a second time at 45 years old. "Each time you're diagnosed, it comes back more aggressive. With my second option, the providers at Dana-Farber in Boston want- ed chemo and radiation. That's when I had to start a more ag- gressive type of treatment, and that's when I started to have side effects from the different types of pharmaceuticals that I was using," said Pichette. Shortly after receiving her diagnosis, she created a blog on Facebook called "Breast Cancer and Me." As a nurse, Pichette wanted to start a live journal about what it was like for a nurse facing the other side of the nurse's station. Her blog provided a therapeutic outlet for herself and others who be- gan following her breast cancer journey. With the negative re- actions she was receiving from the different types of phar- maceuticals, online followers started recommending she try cannabis to deal with her symptoms. "At first I was very reluctant because I was anti-cannabis. It was a drug. I was a Director of Nursing Operations at the time," Pichette explained. "I didn't have really positive expe- riences with cannabis in high school or college. There were many layers of why I was afraid to use this as a treatment op- tion. But I was allergic to the antiemetics, which are the med- ications that help with nausea and vomiting and stuff from the side effects of chemotherapy. I was emaciated. I was down to about 111 pounds. I was bald, I was frail and I was sick, and I was still working. I was trying to find how I could move for- ward with this." Pichette was also in remission from anorexia. "In my young- er years, I suffered from severe anorexia. When I saw these pictures of myself, I didn't want to fall back on the wagon of anorexia and knew that I had to do something," she said. "I reached out to Steve Placek from Pennsylvania, who was the most persistent on my blog telling me, 'you need to try this, you need to try this.' So, I reached out to him and said, as a nurse and a cancer patient, how do I do this legally so I can try to get better and so I don't lose my license?" At the time, Pichette was living and working in Rhode Island. When she began researching medical cannabis, Rhode Island was a medically legal state. Even with medical use legalized, cannabis was considered illegal at the federal level. As a nurse, Pichette had the possibility of losing her nursing license if she chose to use cannabis and failed a drug test for tetrahydro- cannabinol (THC). At that point in her life, with battling a ter- minal illness or potentially terminal illness, she had to make a personal choice of what was most important to her and weigh the risk/benefit ratio. During this period of time, the benefits of medical cannabis outweighed the risk. Pichette felt that she had to do something at that point to change her life. Life Changing Moments In Rhode Island, Pichette was able to pick a dispensary and a caregiver. Army veteran, Chapman Dickerson, filled the role of her caregiver and would come to her house with a care package of all different types of cannabis products such as edibles, tinc- tures, drinks, and topicals. Dickerson spent a significant amount of time teaching Pichette and helping her understand what she was doing. As she began to heal through her breast cancer treatment side effects, Pichette started digging deeper into the research and education on the medicinal cannabis. Through her research, she came across Nurse Marcie Coop- er who connected her to Patients Out of Time. In this organi- zation, Pichette was introduced to Nurse Heather Manus, who was a part of the education team for Patients Out of Time. In On the Other Side of the Nurse's Station: A Nurse Turned Medical Cannabis Patient B Y M A D E L I N E C O L L I

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