Stephen Estrada: His Research on Cannabis is Saving His Life
MMJ Patient: Stephen Estrada, Denver, CO
He has a pep in his step that you’d only find matched by someone who had just won the lottery. His energy and passion are so evident in his voice and demeanor, you’d think he just had a string of the best days of his life. He’s comedic, positive, and energetic. But guess what? Stephen Estrada has Stage 4 colon cancer. Let that sink in. Are you asking yourself how? Aren’t cancer patients usually drained, depressed, and bedridden with nausea? They can be, but they don’t have to be and Stephen is here to tell us all how he is fighting his disease and ditching his pharmaceuticals for CBD and marijuana. There is another way; cancer patients are getting their lives back and this is how one of them is doing just that.
What medical condition have you been struggling with?
I was diagnosed with a mass in my colon and another mass, adjacent to that, on my mesentery area in June 2014. After a diagnostic PET scan, I was told that I had late stage 3/early stage 4 colon cancer. Shortly afterwards, I had surgery to remove one of the tumors, the one in my colon, and I was told that it was stage 4 colon cancer and the tumor on my mesentery area would never be able to be removed. My best bet was to hope for remission or shrinkage so great that we could surgically remove the remaining tumor… but that is really so, etching they did not confer to be likely.
How long have you been experiencing your medical condition?
April 30th 2014, the day after my birthday, is when I really remember having a lot of pain in my abdomen. Looking back, I wonder if I had been feeling the pain beforehand and just never recognized it as anything serious. A stomach ache is just a stomach ache, right? Wrong. Unfortunately, even after two separate visits to the ER, I had no answers. No one thought a healthy 29 year old would even need to worry about the word ‘cancer’, especially colon cancer; it’s an old man’s disease, right? Wrong again! Colon cancer diagnoses in people under the age of 50 are appearing more and more often… and are on the rise. Even my oncologist said she has noticed an unusual uptick in younger colon cancer patients. Sometimes it helps knowing there are other young people like me going through this. Sometimes it doesn’t help. Most of the time it just makes me angry knowing that young lives are being cut far too short.
Colon cancer diagnoses in people under the age of 50 are appearing more and more often… and are on the rise.
What do you believe caused this medical condition?
Well, it was pretty clear after looking into my family’s medical history that my cancer was most likely hereditary. After talking to a genetic counselor, we decided to test me for Lynch Syndrome. Lynch Syndrome greatly improves your chances of getting different types of cancer throughout your life time. For example, the general person has roughly a 2% to 5% chance of getting colon cancer before they are 80. People with Lynch syndrome have upwards of an 80% chance of getting colon cancer. To add insult to injury, while normal colon polyps usually take up to 10 years to turn into cancer, Lynch polyps can take only 1 to 2 years. I came back positive for Lynch syndrome; I had a mutation in my MLH1 gene that caused my cancer.
What medications have you been taking that were prescribed to you by your doctor?
Oh geez. This is always the fun part:
- Hydromorphone – Pain
- Hydrocodone – Pain
- Promethazine – Nausea
- Dexamethasone – Steroid
- Oxycodone – Pain
- Lorazepam – Nausea/Mood
- Prochlorperazine – Nausea
- MS Contin – Pain (12 hour)
- Alprazolam – Mood/Anxiety
- Diazepam – Anxiety
- Transdermal Scopolamine Patch – Nausea
- Zofran – Nausea
I feel like a pharmacy sometimes. I have little orange bottles coming out of my ears!
What side effects did you experience from the prescribed medication by your doctor?
Depression was a big one. I could feel the weight of my disease and the pharmaceuticals all at once. I couldn’t get outside because I was stuck lying on the couch. But that was ok with me because my desire to even see outside the window was gone. I was either constipated or had diarrhea. I felt incredibly weak until I took my steroid; then I felt like I could to anything… to a fault. The super feeling would stop abruptly when I would overwork myself and start vomiting. There was never a “perfect balance” that I could achieve. Then I saw the long term side effects of my steroids… umm, NO THANKS! I either had to be sick from post-surgery or chemo or sick because of my pain meds, which would make me so nauseous that I would then have to choke down more meds. It was a sick cycle… literally. I like to tell my family that most of my meds have “death” listed as a side effect. My CBD oils have no negative side effects… which would you choose?
What type of alternative medicine have you tried aside from your doctor’s recommendation?
One thing every cancer patient needs to do once they are diagnosed is take some time to themselves. I felt like the world had stopped and sped up all at the same time. Once you are diagnosed with cancer, you have to realize that everything becomes a game of timing. You have to be quicker than the cancer so you can’t take too much time feeling down about your situation. I made the decision to educate myself and take as much control of my disease as I could. Side note: Any cancer patient will tell you… cancer shows you that you really have no control in life at all. You think you do, but everything is one big unknown, regardless of your health status.
You have to be quicker than the cancer so you can’t take too much time feeling down about your situation.
I take somewhere between 1 to 1.5 grams of cannabidiol (CBD) oil every day. I worked in a salon next to a medical dispensary here in Denver. After my diagnosis, a friend of mine from the dispensary started telling me about CBD oil and how one of their patients shrunk her tumors by 75% with the oil. Talk about being at the right place at the right time! My friend educated me on the benefits of CBD oil and how there is reliable research showing the anti-cancer properties of CBD and THC. Well, why not? When you are faced with your own mortality, you will do whatever it takes to fight it. After all, I already smoked marijuana, so why not try this too?
Since my tolerance wasn’t high enough, I started on a weaker CBD honey for a couple weeks to build up my tolerance and then switched to a cannabidiol with a much higher concentration. I like to switch between a high CBD oil and a high THC oil. The science is starting to show that while cannabidiols can help to kill cancer cells, it is really effective at preventing metastases to other parts of the body. THC protects healthy cells while programming cancer cells to induce apoptosis (cell death). The two combined are even stronger together, so switching between the two strains, I believe, attacks the cancer and keeps it confused.
Besides CBD and THC supplements, I also take turmeric pills, immune support mushroom pills, green tea extract, fish oil, flaxseed oil, a daily probiotic, an essential oil GI pill, an 81mg aspirin, and a melatonin at night. I take each pill 2 to 3 times a day. It is a large amount of pills to take, but I find it much easier to swallow knowing that they aren’t toxic pharmaceuticals from a lab. They are all-natural supplements from the earth, which is something I am trying to get back to. Also, turmeric (curcumin) and green tea extract is thought to enhance CBD’s effectiveness.
I changed my diet to exclude meats, sugars, alcohol, and non-organic foods. I juice when I remember to and pick restaurants that I know will suit my diet. Of course, I allow myself some organic chicken sometimes to keep me sane and not go crazy on the strictness. Sometimes I’ll even have a pastry from a local organic bakery. You can eat healthy and still have fun, trust me!
This is just what seems to be working for me. Cancer is an individualized disease that has to be attacked with a personal plan. Listen to your body. But most importantly… DO YOUR RESEARCH! Especially when it comes to CBD oils. You need to either make it yourself or purchase it from a trusted source. I personally use Pure Medical Dispensary for those of you who might be in Denver. Make sure your oil is tested and verified by a lab. This is YOUR life. You get to be choosy about your CBD oil treatment, not so much with your chemo treatment.
How long have you been using the alternative medicine?
Since my surgery in July 2014, I started sucking down the CBD honey that my friend smuggled into the hospital. [Oopsss… let’s keep that between us.. shhh]
How have you felt since you started using the alternative medicine? Compared to your prescribed medications?
CBD oil has changed my life. My friends said that on my prescribed medication, I was a sickly grey and was not myself. With my CBD oils, I have a great healthy color, energy, an appetite, and a life. I even still have my hair! I love to laugh, but on the oils, I will laugh until I am crying… not something a stage 4 cancer patient can often say. Even my family members ask if I have “taken my oils” every time they call… which is every day.
I will laugh until I am crying… not something a stage 4 cancer patient can often say.
Why do they ask if I’ve taken my oils? Well, I had my first progress scan on Friday, October 24, 2014. That following Monday, I received a frantic call from the head nurse of the cancer center at 8:00am. She said that when she saw my results on her desk, she found the need to call me immediately. My cancer was showing no forward movement at all, in fact, it was moving backwards; my tumor had reduced in size by just over 50%. She was shocked; this wasn’t a typical response in such a short amount of time and she told me that “whatever I was doing… I needed to keep it up.”
They knew what I was doing.
During my chemo later that day I asked the nurse what she knew about CBDs. She smiled slowly, looked around and said she didn’t know much about it, but she was starting to hear about it more and more. She even knew of another nurse with a patient who was treating his cancer with just CBD oil and was seeing a decrease in size of his tumors.
I have included pictures of my scan write-up so that you all can see the proof. Yes, I am on chemo. Yes, I take supplements. Yes, I am on a clean diet. Yes, I believe that CBD oils, in conjunction with all this, are saving my life. Do your research. It doesn’t take long to see that the scientific community is clued into what we are proving with our medical records. We need more success stories to push for doctor’s education and to fund research. If what we are learning about all the different cannabinoids in cannabis is true (and it is looking very, very, very promising) then we are possibly on the verge of a breakthrough. This is a compound that is safe, even for children, and can combat cancer, seizures, and an array of other maladies?! What?! Where was all the fear of the unknown when we discovered opiates from another plant… the common poppy. Here we have a plant that can do what opiates do… without the addictive qualities, without the side effects, and without the possibility of death… and yet we are all stuck in this idea that marijuana is a bad thing. But that is all changing… very quickly! It won’t be much longer that people can deny the facts.
Do you think you will continue with using alternative medicine?
Considering I have Lynch syndrome and a higher chance of cancer than most people, YES! I will always continue with my alternative medicine. I will always take CBD oils for the rest of my life, just in a smaller dose. With what we are learning about the human endocannabinoid system, I have been encouraging all my friends and family members to take at least a low dose of CBD honey to simply remain in good health and keep that system going strong. Since my diagnoses, I have felt the need to reach out and help other people. If I can ease one person’s pain or lead them to something that is potentially life saving, then having stage 4 colon cancer isn’t all that bad. This disease has taken so much from me, but it will not win. Ironically enough, the one thing cancer has given me is the one thing I had been looking for all along: purpose. With this being said, please help me with my purpose by sharing this testimonial. Everyone knows someone with cancer so you are doing your part by helping them.