Cancer could definitely be considered a global pandemic. In 2016, it was estimated that 1,685,210 new cases of cancer were diagnosed and that 595,690 people died of the disease. The most common forms of cancer in the U.S. are breast, lung, prostate, colon, bladder, skin, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, thyroid, kidney, leukemia, endometrial, and pancreatic cancer, and it’s a safe bet that you know someone close to you who has been affected. The treatment path is familiar to all of us, with radiation, surgery, and chemotherapy being the normal route for most sufferers. These treatments are quite harsh and, while they often save the lives of patients, they can leave some pretty serious side effects in their wake. More and more patients are opting to seek alternative treatments to complement traditional therapies; one of these is medical marijuana – which can now be accessed through telemedicine.
According to the American Cancer Association, studies on medical marijuana have shown that the drug improves symptoms of nausea and vomiting, neuropathic pain, and food intake. It can also help relax patients who are feeling stressed due to the pressure of their diagnosis and treatment. However, many patients can be turned off of seeking treatment via medical marijuana due to the stigma of the treatment and the difficulty in finding a specialist who can recommend the correct form of treatment for you.
This is where telemedicine comes in. It is truly the perfect way for cancer patients who need advice on medical marijuana to seek treatment. Many people are unaware of its existence, but if you’re able to Google your symptoms, you’re able to engage with telemedicine for treatment. Put simply, telemedicine is the delivery of medical or diagnostic advice through telecommunications technology. It has been around for as long as telecommunications technology has, usually being used in disaster areas or warzones, but now, thanks to the boom in smartphones, it’s accessible to nearly everyone.
Firstly, you’ll need to check the legality and availability of medical marijuana in your state. Medical marijuana is legal in 29 U.S. states as well as Guam, Puerto Rico, and the District of Colombia. Seventeen additional states have laws limiting the levels of THC in medically available cannabis but allow access under certain conditions. The non-medical use of marijuana is legal in nine states, so no doctor’s documentation is required. However, it is still advisable to seek medical advice when looking to treat cancer with MMJ.
Many doctors are not familiar with the treatment process and those who seek treatment can often feel stigmatized, but telemedicine can connect you with a medical professional who specializes in medical marijuana treatment. You can simply search for someone who is a specialist and make an appointment with them. This will involve logging on, spending some time in a “virtual waiting room,” and then being connected with the medical professional you are scheduled to see. (Some services even offer drop-in appointments, so no appointment is necessary. However, your wait time may be longer.) You will use the camera on your phone to speak to your doctor via video about your cancer and how medical marijuana may be able to help. It is vital that you get recommendations as to which strains and forms of marijuana will be the most suitable for you in treating the specific side effects you are concerned about.
If you live in a state in which medical marijuana is legal, as opposed to non-medical use of marijuana, you will need some form of documentation to qualify you for medical marijuana treatment. This is usually a letter that is often referred to as a medical marijuana card or an MMJ card, and is available through sites like MMJRecs. Depending on the requirements in your state, it will simply recommend you for medical marijuana treatment, or it can specify the form and strain of medical marijuana treatment that you need. Either way, it will be signed, dated, and stamped by the medical professional you speak to on your telemedical appointment and will be sent to your home as an original document.
When you have your medical marijuana card, you can then visit a dispensary. If your state does not limit the type of medical marijuana that you can use, it is worth speaking to someone at the dispensary to get further advice on what forms and strains of medical marijuana may work for you. You are not just limited to smoking joints. There are vaporizers, edibles, creams, and oils that can help deliver MMJ to your system.
Now that the U.S. is waking up to how useful medical marijuana can be to cancer patients, there has never been a better time to take control and seek the health care that you need. As well as being convenient in terms of time, telemedicine also allows you to see a doctor from the comfort of your home, which will be useful if you are feeling especially worn out from your cancer treatment. Get onto your phone and make an appointment as soon as you can. It’ll be the best decision you’ve ever made.