THE ANGST OF 10 MILLION TERMINALLY-ILL PATIENTS IN INDIA TODAY

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Yesterday, a dear college friend, Treesa Lobo, lost her dad to cancer. Mr. Francis Lobo was about to turn sixty-eight in a week. He had retired before eight years, after having put in thirty-two years of government service, and was looking forward to a life of relaxation. But cancer caught him unawares five years back; as it does, over 1.5 million unsuspecting people in our country every year; and snatched him away. He suffered a lot before he died. They spent over ten lakhs after his medical insurance ran out. Apart, his insurance covered only conventional lines of treatment. Allopathy. He was a non-smoker, a non-drinker, and a health-conscious man who had lived an overall disciplined life through the years. A family of five sits grieving the loss of a loved one today.

I was a weekly visitor to the household and witnessed Lobo-uncle’s health deteriorate over the period. He was eighty-odd kilos when the drama began. He weighed a measly forty-two kilos when he died. He underwent hell in the last six months of his life–mostly on the bed, and all the time in pain that was scary to watch. It was the nagging pain more than anything else that bothered him; he would keep repeating. His condition would have him holler throughout his nights. The tiniest adjustment to his body position would make him whine in pain, even while he’d be asleep, and the worst part of the torment was his inability to shift positions on his own due to his sapped state of health. He just didn’t have the energy. He’d rain verbal slanders at his near and dear ones who were only trying to help. I saw him pass away–and the last leg of his journey was horrifyingly painful to witness. And, the current set of watered-down painkillers in our country that his doctors prescribed did not do much to alleviate his pain.

Death is an inevitable part of life. The lucky die natural deaths–good for them. The not so lucky meet unnatural deaths–sad. Life-threatening diseases, illnesses, and terminal ailments fall into the unnatural category. Now speaking of cancer, most types of the disease are diagnosed late. They don’t show up on screenings until the affected cells have multiplied to a degree. Today, we hear about plenty of cancer cases with their sufferings and trauma-filled deaths and understand the disease to be a one-way street for many.

Although patients realize that Alternative Nature Cure therapies (comprising specialty supplementary concentrates, combined with tailor-made blends of nutraceutical and liposomal factors, aided by a potent herbal painkiller (once billed a narcotic–now medically/recreationally legalized in many countries, including the USA) with no side-effects–more potent than the most potent synthetic pain-killing drugs or injections on the planet today) could give them a fighting chance to drive cancer out, the natural way, a negligible few take the leap. The majority, like Lobo-uncle, give in to the prevailing system (the same all over the globe–spearheaded by the West), which follows the government’s structured and approved “allopathic” approaches, strictly adhered to by their appointed doctors while treating patients, complaints regardless, including cancer.

An eyeopener for those who yet don’t know: The system, meaning the government, is hand in glove with giant global pharma companies who manufacture every drug known to humankind, including cancer drugs.

PAIN MANAGEMENT AND PALLIATIVE CARE: The current scene in India - Next to non-existent. Sad but true. Palliative care, as per the admission of experts who run registered palliative centers in the country, is at its teething stages as of 2018. Right. Where does this leave the millions who need palliative care here today? Err, to each their own–or that’s been the story so far. Plus, opioid painkillers like Oxycontin to name one, highly effective in combating cancer pain and other chronic pains, have disappeared from the Indian medicine shelves since 2012. Why? The government took them off the market. Reasons? The potential for abuse, and yes, actual abuse.

What is the pain management scene abroad today? Doctors routinely prescribe opioid and narcotic painkillers to patients, like they always did, which enable them to lead near-normal lives and get on with their daily routines without assistance or pain, and even attend jobs like normal people. But there is a major problem with these painkillers - “they come with serious dependency and withdrawal issues.” In 1996, twenty-two years back, researchers and scientists, after documented long-term studies, approved the use of Marijuana, or Cannabis, to combat and manage day-to-day pain, chronic or otherwise. They legalized it in California in the same year. Today, 30 States in the U.S.A have legalized the medical use of Marijuana. Canada, as a country, has legalized not the medical use of Cannabis alone but its recreational use too.

So, does Cannabis destroy cancer? No. However, different cannabinoids (the active constituents found in various strains of Cannabis belonging to the Indica or the Sativa Strains) act as aggressive fighting components that immensely aid remission, when added to an Alternative Medicinal Protocol to treat cancer.

Vital Facts: #1 Cannabis destroys pain. Yes. You read that right. I repeat, Cannabis destroys pain. #2 When administered in the required dosages, Cannabis has nil side-effects. Cannabis is a naturally growing plant–no drugs or synthetically derived components with bad side-effects involved. #3 Cannabis, with its pain-inhibiting properties, enhances a terminally-ill patient’s quality of life and the ability to go about their affairs without depending on others, a huge boon to a patient’s psyche, plus grants the sufferer pain-free life until their death.

Could one ask for more? It is banned here, in India. It is a scheduled-II drug. Punishable by law. Our current Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, has visited the United States of America four times out of his fifty-six foreign visits after he became the PM of the country in 2014. He well knows the status of Cannabis in the U.S. Then why hasn’t the government done something about it? Because we haven’t gathered enough numbers to get Shri Modi or his Cabinet Ministers to take notice. Or, would this have to be done after the coalition parties formed the new government in 2019?

Truth be told, none can bring about change unless we worked to change what is supposed to be changed. Regardless, we must prepare ourselves to face a few million deaths. They could be near and dear ones, God forbid! None, I dare say, can glean the future. And, those unlucky ones would die in pain. Cannabis cannot return their lives, but it can certainly return their quality of lives. And, for once, thankfully, doctors who belong to the system have attested to the herb’s beneficial effects, not alone limited to pain management, but a plethora of conditions.

The government currently comprises a majority that opposes this gift of Nature to not cancer endurers alone, but anyone with any sort of pain. But the good news is "big-wigs who hold official portfolios, though a minority as on date, actively endorse the use of medical Cannabis today". #1 Maneka Gandhi: Present Indian Union Cabinet Minister for Women & Child Development in the Government of PM Narendra Modi. She is also an animal rights activist, environmentalist, and widow of the Indian politician Sanjay Gandhi. #2 Dr. Dharamvir Gandhi (they aren’t related). Dr. Dharamvir Gandhi, a cardiologist and a Member of Parliament from Patiala, has petitioned to legalize the possession as well as consumption of marijuana in India along with that of other ‘non-synthetic’ intoxicants. The former commissioner of the Central Bureau of Narcotics, Shri Romesh Bhattacharji, supports the move. These are high-profile individuals today, who believe in the therapeutic values of Cannabis. Let us join hands to get the majority to agree. We elected them. It’s time to tell them what we want. Shri Narendra Modi cannot become God and avert Indian cancer deaths, and we understand that, but he can certainly alleviate the pains of his ailing countrymen by the millions and gift them quality, pain-free lives. Cannabis. Mother Nature’s produce. Why condemn God’s gift to sufferer souls?