Concord resident Barbara Filleul has survived two battles with breast cancer. However, she is not being profiled on this site because she smoked marijuana to alleviate the side-effects of chemotherapy; she's here because she didn't.
Barbara is a retired psychotherapist, an art teacher, and perhaps most importantly, a mother. When she first battled cancer in 1995 and 1996, the chemotherapy made her "violently ill." Doctors prescribed Zofran, a drug she refers to as "the Rolls-Royce of anti-nausea medications." Fortunately, her insurance covered the $50 per pill for Zofran, and the drug did reduce her nausea, but she had no appetite during this period, and she says the drug made her feel incapacitated.
During this period, a friend gave Barbara an ounce of marijuana, but she was afraid to use it because it was illegal. Although she had tried marijuana in the 1970's and imagined it would relieve her nausea and improve her spirits as she endured chemotherapy, she did not feel free to try it. "As a mother, I couldn't and wouldn't take that kind of risk," she explained.
"Now, when I look back, the level of suffering seems extreme, and I wish I had smoked marijuana for relief," she said. "Seriously ill patients should not be considered criminals if they use marijuana."