The morning after, I awoke in a swell of nausea. My head throbbed, my vision blurred, hot and cold flashes laced the back of my neck. An acidic, inflated sensation plagued my belly. I was not hung over. I had just survived the first 24 hours of chemotherapy.
Back in 2010, I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. I was sentenced to six months of chemo, a grueling period where I felt my essence die along with my cancer cells. I tried to make the best of the six months by nourishing my mind, body, and soul. I meditated, journaled every day, surrounded myself with loving family and friends, and made sure to exercise and feed my body with love.
However, fears and anxiety of my hair falling out, “what if” questions, and bouts of extreme nausea pervaded my psyche. In the first days after chemo, my natural ability to enjoy laughter and food, to socialize and connect to my body were overpowered by chemotherapy's potent side effects. Anti-nausea and anti-depressant pills didn’t work—they made me feel more drugged, delusional, and lethargic.
I decided to try cannabis because I heard it could help with sickness. To be honest, the thought of smoking while going through chemo kind of scared me. I was nervous it would weaken my lungs and possibly offset chemo’s “power.” However, after submitting to the first treatments cannabis-free, I realized my body needed a different type of medicine to counteract my nausea and perhaps to calm my anxiety.
Cannabis gave me my life back for those two days after chemo. I smoked a bit the day after treatment, when my nausea hit the hardest. It’s hard to explain how smoking cannabis as a medicinal remedy is different than when you smoke recreationally. Smoking brought me into a state of calm. It dispelled my nausea. It gently cradled me when I needed to nap, yet at the same time it gave me energy to laugh, be creative, and actually have an appetite.
I stopped worrying about my hair falling out or what was going to happen in the future. I was able to be in the present moment and simply enjoy what is. Allowing my body to fully relax and rest for a couple of days after treatment gave me more strength to be active on my "healthy" days. I loved going to spin classes to sweat out the toxins, lifting weights to keep my body strong, and taking Pilates classes to keep my core engaged.
During chemo, my palate and cravings were extremely particular. Certain smells one day were my best friend and then the next day my worst enemy. If you have experienced chemo, you can relate to being sensitive to the smell, taste, sound, and texture of your surroundings. Cannabis helped me tap in to each particular moment and explore what my body craved—what my cells needed. I was able to quiet the external noise and deeply explore how to support my body and continue to find strength. Cannabis might not be for everyone who is battling cancer. However, it supported me to make more intentional choices.
Surviving cancer shifted my perspective on how I live and value life. Instead of asking “why me” and feeling angry, I was able to see the brighter side. I did not allow myself to be a victim; instead, I became the cause of my life—I took charge. As a result, I have a deeper appreciation for each breath and each experience I face. My goal is to pay it forward and help others make intentional and mindful choices that fuel their mind, body, and soul.
Wade Brill survived cancer at the age of 21 and turned her passion and appreciation for life into her own Life Purpose coaching practice. Additionally, Wade is a Pilates instructor, foodie, and a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Practitioner. Wade believes in approaching life from a holistic perspective and strives to awaken each client’s mind, body, and soul. Join her mailing list to receive a free meditation download and monthly tips that help you connect to your breath, balance, and brilliance. Wade is also available through her website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.