BY WIL WICKE AS TOLD TO ANDREW NGUYEN
Photo by Emily Malan
10 years ago my mom was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer. I moved her to California from Kansas and became her primary caregiver. I was desperate to find things that would improve her quality of life so I looked into cannabis’ medical benefits. The 3 years, 3 months, and 14 days with her blew their estimates out of the water as she was also able to travel to Hawaii, the Redwood Forests, and back to Kansas for her 50th high school reunion. I rarely hear of a terminal patient being that engaged in life.
During my time with my mom I researched the benefits of certain strains, and I turned promising ones into tinctures that I’d add to food. From there, it was just about observing the effects. The most impressive one that I still recommend (whenever we have it in stock is) King Louis the 13th. It's great for appetite stimulation, helpful for pain relief, and can knock out an insomniac. The body’s built to use cannabis as a medicine but we’ve had it pounded into our heads that it has no practical uses, which is not true! It’s not a gateway drug and the government doesn't need to restrict, add taxes, or put caps on people who truly need this plant to function.
The lessons I learned from my mother’s illness also came into play when my colon ruptured. It needed to be removed but the anesthesia set off a series of heart attacks and strokes, leaving my left side paralyzed. During my recovery, I didn't want to use opiates because they made my brain feel detached from my body and my limbs became leaden.
My doctors predicted that with a year of therapy, I could expect 50 to 70 percent of my mobility back. But in 23 days, I achieved 50 percent thanks to being in a top-rated hospital. I did another three weeks in outpatient care and it took another 14 months to get my fine motor skills back. During that time alternative solutions like acupressure, acupuncture, and reflexology proved effective plus I was using cannabis as opposed to opiates for pain.
Cannabis gave me the clarity of mind needed to retrain my dormant side and it kept me in tune with my body movements during the seven to nine hours of daily therapy. The accelerated recovery blew my doctors away because everything they had been taught about the normal course of recovery was with opiates. Now I smile to myself when I climb the stairs because there was a period when I couldn't.
Between both of my experiences with cannabis and medicine, I decided I wasn’t going to chase the dollar anymore as a Director of Marketing at a national bank. I quit my job to join MedMen as their 176th employee in September 2017. I’m a Hospitality Lead specializing in health issues at our Beverly Hills location, which is near Cedars Sinai Hospital. I had applied but I didn’t get the job until I notified them of a bad link in a promo email. They reached out with an offer to compensate me and I used that moment to ask for a serious review of my application. During the interview, I shared I had attended over 20 cannabis conferences across the nation (focused on the business aspect) and I also had two articles published in Cannabis Business Times. I was hired a couple of days later.
Whenever I have the opportunity to help others through the healing process of cannabis, I jump on it. I want to do some good in the world. I make it clear to anybody that comes to me looking for assistance that none of the products in the shop will cure but they will improve their quality of life. When I first met one client, who has stage four ovarian cancer, she could barely walk across the floor in the shop with me. At the time she needed something topical and three days later, she came in the front door skipping like an Energizer Bunny with her infectious spirit and gave me a big hug and said, “Thank you.” It's moments like that, that I do this job.