I was recently talking to a friend about a mate of his who is suffering through the late and fairly undignified stages of terminal cancer. He's a great guy. He has a wonderful wife, a loving family, and adoring and loyal friends who babysit him when his wife needs to leave their home.

Terminal cancer. It sounds so devoid of hope. Because "terminal" surely means there is no hope of survival. Miracles happen, but even miracles struggle with terminal cancer.

This guy is in his last few weeks, I guess. I don't know how they determine how much time remains. I've known people who have lingered in pain much longer than expected. People who have been diagnosed and died two weeks later, and people like my "Uncle Bruce" (Grant's uncle) and my current partner's brother, who battled on as though life was normal, until one day they checked themselves into hospital and died almost immediately.

Cancer, it would seem, is not only a horrible and torturous illness, but it refuses to be held down to an expiration date.


My friend and I talked about the quality of life, the celebration of life and the tremendous agony that people with terminal cancer suffer as time passes. I had always imagined that pain relief solved the problem. I assumed that morphine, or whatever is prescribed, is so strong that the sufferer feels no pain. I don't think that's always the case now.

My friend told me that his mate is in so much pain that he crawls to get anywhere. He can't be picked up or lifted to go to the bathroom because the pain is so immense.

Pain. I've known some pain. Not from cancer, but I've known bad pain.

The most I have ever experienced physically was not gall bladder attacks, though they were excruciating. They were not as heinous or impossible to endure as the pain of a late miscarriage with my first son. I think that pain can be measured by how much you would rather die than live while experiencing it.

Maybe I'm a big fat wuss and my pain threshold is low, though I don't think so. I've walked off a mountain with a broken ankle, and driven myself to hospital with a broken foot.

I don't think I'm a baby when it comes to pain, but I'm also not staunch like Uncle Bruce or my partner's brother, Shane. I'm pretty sure I won't be finally admitting I have terminal cancer on the day I die. The pain though that came with a late miscarriage, and without the benefit of an epidural, was unforgettable.

I know we are supposed to forget the pain of child birth, so we foolishly go on to have more and more children, but the pain I endured with that late miscarriage was worse than all the other babies I bore put together.

I was in so much agony that I actually told God I wanted to die right then, and go with the spirit of my baby to wherever. I've never wanted God to exist more than the day I wanted him to take my life. Pain so bad that death seems a relief, perhaps even a pleasure, is pretty intense pain.

Does marijuana help with pain? Apparently, yes. My only experiences with marijuana ended in acute paranoia and a psychotic episode. I'm not a fan. But I am lead to believe that when it comes to mortal pain, marijuana is a huge help.

Maybe we should be giving all terminal cancer patients the option of unlimited access to marijuana. Would heroin take the pain away? Perhaps. I have no experience with heroin, but I'm lead to believe it takes all pain away from the dying man. It will slowly drain life from a well man, but a dying one, it may give a sweet and kind relief.

I never thought I'd be advocating the dispensing of A class drugs, but if a dying cancer patient is feeling more pain than I did losing a baby, then I'm all for it.

I know life is cruel and unfair, and pain is necessary to some extent for all of us, but allowing good people who led good lives to die in excruciating agony is not a humane world.

What if that poppy grows for one reason? For one and only medicinal miraculous reason? Clearly, it's not it's on the earth for junkies, but may be to help ease people into their next stage of existence, whatever that might be.

What if marijuana only exists, not to smoke in front of Family Guy and Horseman Jack, but to ease the pain of the woman dying of ovarian cancer. All plants live on this earth for a reason, and it's not to pleasure addicts.

I hope my friend's friend is not in pain right now, but I'm pretty bloody sure he is.

- nzherald.co.nz

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