To whom it may concern...
To whom it may concern,
I am tired. In 12 years, I have had 3 craniotomies (brain surgery performed while awake) and 2 years of chemotherapy. I started a new round of chemo in February this year that will continue for another 11 months. During these 12 years, I have stayed more than 100 nights in the hospital, and I’ve been rushed by ambulance 10 times. At my 10-year anniversary of diagnosis, my medical record consisted of 7,263 pages.
Since the evening of my first grand mal seizure my doctors have been fantastic. Fortunately, I am treated at one of the world’s greatest brain tumor clinics, the Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center at Duke University Hospital. People fly from all corners of the planet to be treated here. The patient population is so far reaching that a standard question when making an appointment is, “Are you local?” However, I am not a patient there because of the wall of awards; I choose to be treated at Duke because I love my doctors. My brain tumor will forever grow larger, but we fight the continuous growth with every medicine and surgery available.
When I visit my neuro-oncologist, every 30 days, we read a new MRI image of my brain. I have been inside an MRI machine over 86 times in 12 years. Since January 2019 I have had 2 MRI scans, with 8 more scheduled this year. The first few minutes of my appointment involve MRI reviews, seizure discussions, and medicine regimens. The rest of the time we talk like friends; we talk about life, kids, sports and home towns. My neurologist has seen my son grow from a toddler to a 13-year-old kid who is now nearly as tall as he.
I have seizures. The aggressively growing tumor cells are consuming and killing the parts of my brain that control the left side of my body. The decline of coordination and strength have been rapid. Continued chemotherapy is my only option; surgical removal of the entire tumor would leave half of my body completely paralyzed, and could cause unknown, permanent mental impairment.
I have done everything possible to rid myself of my brain tumor, but I will never win. My disease will one day infect every cell in my brain and shut it down completely.
As a father, my greatest responsibility is to guide my son through life by example. I was raised to be a southern gentleman and I want my son to be one, too. Already he holds doors for women, says “I love you,” every day to his mother. He has strong eye contact and a firm handshake. A son needs his dad, my father is 62 and I still seek his advice. A boy needs a strong male role model, my son has that. I am a great dad, and it is unfair that my disease dictates how much longer I will be. I fight for my life, because his is important.
I am curious if cannabis can improve my quality of life. It has helped destroy cancerous cells for some, but not all. I fully understand that cannabis may not work for me, because like all medications, the results will vary person to person, illness to illness – but there is only one way to find out. What I do know is that there have been zero deaths caused by the natural cannabis plant.
This letter is a request to be exempt from North Carolina cannabis laws. I am going to break existing laws, very soon. The state of Massachusetts is 668 miles from the Legislative Office Building in Raleigh. Massachusetts allows anyone over 21 to purchase cannabis from a state licensed store. Flowers, infused oils, lotions and an array of different methods to consume cannabis orally are available there. The standards and regulations in Massachusetts ensure that I will be buying a clean, safe product. Once within the Tar Heel state I will shout from the highest mountain, “I am breaking the law!”
I am too expensive to incarcerate. The retail cost of my medication is $300 per day. Every 4 weeks I will need a dose of chemo to the tune of $10,000. If there is a delay in providing my medication, I will have violent seizures. When I have a grand mal seizure, I would need to trust that my fellow inmates would be willing to quickly summon help, and then rely on the guard to immediately call for an ambulance ($650). I would need to be in the hospital emergency room within 30 min of a grand mal seizure, a time frame that is unobtainable within our prison system. Based on my previous experiences, the hospital trip is over $15,000. However, the state could prevent the outrageous cost if my imprisonment were to be at a corrections facility that has a neurologist, neuro-oncologist, an MRI machine, an MRI technician, nurses available 24/7, that are experienced in neurological treatment. There would also need to be a supply of IV bags of saline, Ativan, nausea medication, and pain medication. Most importantly, the prison would have to be able to safely induce a medical coma (which I’ve also had to have done before). It would be foolish to spend mountains of cash solely over having $500 worth of legally-purchased cannabis.
I’m very confident the costs of my imprisonment would drain the state coffers, and if I’m released to the wild, I will drive back to Massachusetts and do it once again. No risk is too great if the reward may grant me more time in this world to be with and raise my son.
Denying me the chance to try this method of treatment violates my right to life and could result in a young boy losing his father. Please hurry, I am tired.
Post Script: Full medical record release available to any journalist or politician.