Meet Our Team: Stephan

It was in January of 2014 when I received the most shocking news of my life.

I had a suspicious lump underneath my right armpit which I knew wasn’t normal and needed attention. A week prior, I had noticed the small lump. I figured it was a cyst or a sweat gland and brushed it off for a few days. When it grew from the size of a small pea to almost the size of an orange within a week, I knew something was wrong.

I was 24 years old at the time. I called my mom who was an RN and told her about my discovery. She told me right then and there to go the Hospital for an ultrasound. The next day, the doctor called us back and said he wanted to run a few more tests. I went in and met with some of the most well known and recognized doctors and oncologists in Orange County. They took me to perform a biopsy. After the doctor meticulously poked a six inch needle into my armpit and pulled out a tissue sample, I sat in the waiting room…waiting..and waiting. It was the longest 45 minutes of my life. The doctor came and pulled my mom aside. I saw a look on her face I have never seen before. At that moment, I had a feeling I knew what was happening.

The doctor and his team came over to me and told me I had tested positive for aggressive T-cell Non-Hodgkins lymphoma.

I was at loss of words and didn’t know exactly what that meant, other than I had cancer. It took a few moments for me to retain the information and then I just remember big, heavy tears running down my face, while my family and my loved ones came over to console me. It was a very surreal feeling and I knew there was a chance I might not make it through this.

I had a meeting with my family and the oncologist. The oncologist wanted me to immediately start on aggressive high dose chemotherapy. I didn’t really have a choice at that point, because this type of cancer was so aggressive. Literally that same night, they started me on my first round chemo IV drips. Over the next 7 months, I would be on 7 more rounds of aggressive chemo.

Like most teens, I was introduced to cannabis at a young age by smoking recreationally with my friends. Until my diagnosis, however, I was not familiar with the medicinal values that come from this amazing plant. I started using non-smokable cannabis regularly throughout my treatment, mostly with edible treats.

The first thing that happened was the cannabis eliminated the extreme nausea that can come from chemo. It also helped me sleep at night and kept my spirits up while I was in my hospital room for more than two weeks at a time. Then, during my second round of chemo, a family friend donated 20 grams of CBD FECO to me. The FECO came in large syringes and I was instructed to take a full gram a day. CBD is a molecule found in cannabis and is a system wide anti inflammatory that also stimulates the body’s endocannabinoid system which regulates the bodies immune system and encourages homeostasis.

After I was finished with my second round of chemotherapy, the doctor was amazed at my recovery level and how quickly my body was reproducing healthy white blood cells. I stayed on the CBD FECO throughout the remainder of my treatment and I continued to bounce back after each round of chemotherapy, which cut my hospital time by almost half!

After I was finally finished with my seventh round of chemotherapy, I got my PET scan done and the results came back 99% negative of any cancerous cells in my body!

Since then, I still have to go in once a year for a PET scan. I am thrilled to say I am completely negative of any cancer in my body! I attribute my success to the use of cannabis, and of course the amazing medical team at CHOC hospital and my loving friends and family!

Happy healing everyone

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