When a loved one has been battling cancer and it appears as though he or she is approaching the end of life, the patient's doctors, the patient, and you as a family member will often sit down to discuss palliative care options. There are many different ways that the care team can proceed, including using life support, relying on powerful sedatives, and more. One option that you may want to bring up is the use of medicinal cannabis as a way to mitigate the patient's pain and promote relaxation during the final weeks or days of life. Here are some things to consider regarding the use of this substance.
The Patient's Wishes
It's appropriate for the patient to have a say in his or her care, but if he or she has been ensuring potent narcotics as a measure for controlling the pain, you may need to speak for him or her to some degree. If you're trying to make a sound decision, give some thought to what you believe the patient would want. The use of cannabis can be a polarizing topic for some people. It's possible that your loved one never used cannabis in his or her life, but wasn't against its use because of the understanding that it's a natural plant. In such a case, moving forward with cannabis may be suitable.
Reactions To Current Drugs
Talk to your loved one's doctor — and your loved one, if possible — about the role that the painkillers are currently playing. Powerful painkillers have harmful side effects, and while the doctor might not be worrying about the long-term effects for a patient in palliative care, there are short-term issues that may be at play. For example, if the narcotics are resulting in constipation, which is common, the patient may need a nasogastric tube to remove the contents of the stomach. This is highly unpleasant for the patient. The doctor may believe that the cannabis can allow him or her to reduce the dosage of the narcotics, potentially to the point that the patient can move his or her bowels.
Pain Control Powers Of Cannabis
Cannabis is effective for controlling various types of pain, but your loved one's doctor will want to make a determination on how effective it will be for the patient. As people reach the palliative care stage, they can experience varying degrees of discomfort. There are many benefits to incorporating medicinal cannabis into the person's care regimen, but you want to be sure that it will be potent enough to help. The physician will likely be able to make this determination.
For more information, talk to your doctor and reach out to a medical marijuana dispensary near you.