Stories of Survival: Barbara Humphries
My name is Barbara Humphries and I am a Breast Cancer Survivor. I was diagnosed on May 12th, 2014 on my 31st birthday with stage 2 Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. At the time I was breastfeeding my 1-year-old daughter. I noticed pain in my breast but ignored it because I thought it was due to breastfeeding. My left breast was always more sore than my right breast, and it hurt a great deal whenever I tried to feed my daughter.
Eventually, I made an appointment with my Primary Care Physician who told me I was too young to have Breast Cancer, laughed, and told me Breast Cancer doesn't hurt. She assured me it was an infection. Not trusting that, I insisted on a Mammogram. Due to my young age at the time my Insurance Company would not pay for me to have a Mammogram; so I paid out of pocket. I remember sitting in the office, terrified as they called me back for my 2D Mamogram; and then they sat me back in the waiting room. I knew something was wrong when shortly after they called me up to the desk and told me that they were concerned and wanted me to consent to a 3D mammogram and pay an additional $80. Which I did. After the 3D Mammogram, again they sat me in the waiting room. Within a few short minutes, they called me back up to the desk and told me they wanted to do an ultrasound. By that time I was sweating bullets. I went in the back for the Ultrasound and they brought a Dr in the room who would later become my Breast Surgeon. He told me that he needed to do a biopsy.
At that point, I fully had convinced myself I had Breast Cancer. 2 days later after getting the biopsy, I get a call from my Primary Care Physician asking me if I am sitting down. I could sense the sadness in her voice, as she told me how sorry she was for doubting me but that I indeed had Breast Cancer. Within a matter of hours, they had me in my Breast Surgeons office talking about Chemotherapy, Radiation, and a double mastectomy. I didn't even have much time to think before I was thrust into a series of tests and surgeries.
In June of 2014, I began the first of 18 months of IV Chemotherapy. At this point, I was just smoking Cannabis to relieve my nausea that I had from the Chemotherapy, which worked wonders. I was able to sit in my chemo chair and eat things like spicy jambalaya while everyone in the room stared at me wondering how I was able to keep food down.
After I finished 4 months of Chemotherapy I had my surgery to remove my breasts. They started with Chemo before Surgery which is uncommon because my tumor was 7cm (The size of a small orange) They needed to shrink it down before doing the surgery. I woke up from surgery to be told that they found cancer had spread to my lymph nodes and invaded my blood vessels in multiple spots.
My cancer was upgraded from stage 2 to stage 3b. I was told I needed to go through another intensive round of Chemotherapy after my surgery. This round was particularly difficult. I developed an allergy to Taxol, one of the Chemo drugs that they were using on me. I could not breathe. They were pumping me full of Benedryl and Ativan. It was horrible.
I began reading on the benefits of Cannabis and Cancer, and I found some very great articles about how Cannabis oil in conjunction with Chemotherapy drugs actually made the Chemo more effective. A friend of mine brought me over some oil to try and that is when I began ingesting it daily. Within a month, I had an Oncology Appointment.
My Oncologist was stunned because remaining cancer could no longer be felt or seen. She ordered me a pet scan, and it came back clear. My Oncologist called it "A complete clinical response." I finished that round of chemotherapy after all was said and done I was given 6 different Chemo medications. Taxol, Taxotere, Cytoxan, Perjeta, 5FU, Doxyrubicin (Or the red devil) & Herceptin.
Following the completion of the Chemotherapy, I was told I had to have radiation also. Normally, when a woman has a double mastectomy she doesn't have to have radiation on top of the chemo; but because of the aggressive nature of my Cancer and the fact it had been upgraded, I went through 33 rounds of radiation. I finished my very last treatment in October of 2015 and I have been Cancer Free since.
I live in the illegal state of Texas, so I had to illegally treat myself. I am certain that the Cannabis helped me in more ways than one. Aside from the fact that I never threw up one single time during Chemotherapy; it allowed me to remain active in my community. I began lobbying for change at a Legislative level here in Texas and showed up to give many Press Conferences during my active Chemotherapy Treatments. 3 years after the ordeal began, I am finally set to have my reconstruction surgery October 13th, 2017!!!! During Breast Cancer Awareness month!