"Women need to be heard and our medical concerns, opinions and decisions need to be taken seriously."

THNiceTIMEs.png

When you talk to Tracey Henry, a publicist who in the past five years has pivoted her talents to cannabis, she’ll tell you about her client’s impressive projects, announcements and launches. As any great publicist will do, she hypes others. A few months ago, while hosting a panel titled "Closing The Pain Gap; How Cannabis Can Help Heal and Uplift Women" with The Coveteur and Limone Creative, we had the privilege to hear Henry’s powerful story on how cannabis and motherhood became intertwined at an inflection point in her life. Henry’s story is a reminder that improving cannabis accessibility, more extensive research on cannabis and dismantling stigma are essential to help heal those that need it most.

TH1.png

When you talk to Tracey Henry, a publicist who in the past five years has pivoted her talents to cannabis, she’ll tell you about her client’s impressive projects, announcements and launches. As any great publicist will do, she hypes others. A few months ago, while hosting a panel titled "Closing The Pain Gap; How Cannabis Can Help Heal and Uplift Women" with The Coveteur and Limone Creative, we had the privilege to hear Henry’s powerful story on how cannabis and motherhood became intertwined at an inflection point in her life. Henry’s story is a reminder that improving cannabis accessibility, more extensive research on cannabis and dismantling stigma are essential to help heal those that need it most.

TH2_pregnant.png

That was way back in 2011. True story! I remember that I didn’t really have morning sickness, but before my pregnancy was even confirmed I felt so horrible on Mother’s Day of that year that I called my mom to tell her that I could not spend the day with her - not knowing that I was pregnant myself at the time.  I thought I had the flu or something.

TH3_cancer.png

It isn’t common to get colorectal cancer in your thirties. When I was pregnant I experienced what seemed like a bad case of hemorrhoids which bled on occasion and never really went away. Doctors confirmed my assumption and I was assured that hemorrhoids are a very common thing during pregnancy. I was candid with my doctors about my family history of cancer but at the time I didn’t suspect that was it so I didn’t insist they dig any deeper. Perhaps that was my mistake.

During and after my pregnancy there was an excuse for everything. I had bleeding hemorrhoids because I was pregnant and thus was healing from pregnancy.  I dropped so much weight because up until that time I was doing a lot of distance running and breastfeeding burns a lot of calories. I was in denial and my doctors confirmed my delusions that nothing was wrong. Looking back on it, even if I was blind I’m surprised that none of the trained medical professionals that I was seeing on a consistent basis suspected anything further than for me to pick up some OTCs at the drugstore.

TH4_bigbeliever.png

I am a big believer that things work out the way they are supposed to.  After months taking care of a baby and reestablishing a work routine - all the while experiencing the same bleeding and the inability to put on weight after eating pints of ice cream, (the excuse for that was that I was breastfeeding), my son and I went home to my parents for Christmas. They had seen me throughout the year, but it seems like I deteriorated so rapidly from the last time that they saw me that they took me to the hospital the day after Christmas, December 26, 2013. I was immediately admitted and given a series of tests which confirmed cancer. After that it was a whirlwind of radiation, chemotherapy pills that turned the palms of my hands and the soles of my feet black, scans of all kinds, blood transfusions, surgery, recovery, more chemotherapy, genetic testing, bone density tests, blood tests, and more MRIs and CT scans.  

The genetic testing confirmed that I have Lynch Syndrome, which is a genetic predisposition for colorectal cancer. It took me much longer to recuperate from chemotherapy than surgery. My nerves and joints have never been the same again. I started using CBD while recovering from the chemo and found that it really relieved a lot of that nerve and joint pain. I noticed a difference if I didn’t take the CBD on many levels. I noticed that I had an overwhelming feeling of calm and wellbeing whenever I would take the CBD, which was like a bonus. I also felt like my ability to focus increased. I was very familiar with cannabis, but as CBD was all that I could legally get my hands on, I stuck with that for a long time. It really did work for me. I got certified for medical marijuana much later.

TH5_doctors.png

I had such a positive experience with the nurses that I encountered during my pregnancy and delivery that they more than made up for some of the doctors. The feeling of not being heard when you are in such a physically and emotionally vulnerable state can intimidate you into silence.  I had a completely different experience with the doctors I worked with during the course of my cancer diagnosis and treatment. So many of them went above and beyond to ensure that I had the best chance to get the best outcome possible. I really felt like God and angels were looking out for me and just lining up all the best people and care.    

TH6_motherhood.png

I am grateful to have access to product as a medical patient. I recognize the privilege in that as not everyone has the resources to enroll in a medical program or even afford the medicine which can be cost prohibitive. This is one of the reasons why legalization with social justice, inclusion, and protections like home grow are very important to ensure access. One of the great things about my work is that I get to travel to adult-use states. I use those opportunities to experiment and make note of strains, products and consumption methods that work best for me. I think that the main difference in my use of cannabis before motherhood is that back then for me it was more of a communal experience with friends utilizing whatever we could get our hands on. Today I recognize that most of the cannabis I was exposed to at the time were indica strains when I prefer sativas.  

This knowledge has enhanced my experience with cannabis, and I find myself using it with a lot more intention and most often as a tool to bring about desired effects like symptom relief or for energy and focus. Regardless of any medication that I am taking, my priority is the welfare of my son and ensuring his health and wellbeing, which includes making sure that I am in a position to be fully present to care for him to the best of my ability.

TH7_open-convo.png

It really depends upon the doctor/patient relationship.  Anecdotally, I feel like it’s getting better as cannabis use continues to grow in acceptance.  However, as doctors are subject to mandatory reporting laws regarding suspicions of child abuse and neglect, there is still a fear of broaching the subject and opening the door to foster care and all that comes with it - especially if you’re not quite sure about how your doctor perceives cannabis in general.  Depending upon access to medical insurance your doctor might be whoever is on call at that time and might vary from visit to visit. The lack of US-based cannabis research is also still an issue as many doctors are not even taught about the endocannabinoid system and may not have knowledge of or access to international research, especially some of the really important work coming out of Israel.  

TH8_weedothermoms.png

As I work in the cannabis industry, many of the mothers that I encounter have a positive relationship with the plant so I do have a network with which I am able to exchange ideas.  Outside of that I tend to remain guarded as many agencies, services and institutions are easily weaponized against people of color.

TH9_stigmastilloutthere.png

Cannabis is still classified by our government as a dangerous drug with no medicinal value, as racism still informs how actions are perceived.  I am well aware that as a black mother in cannabis, my actions without any context are more often than not perceived as deviant by society in general.    

TH10_healthcare.png

Women need to be heard and our medical concerns, opinions and decisions need to be taken seriously.  It’s worse for women of color, as we are often not even invited as active participants in our own healthcare.  It was heartbreaking yet validating when Serena Williams spoke out about her birth experience, as it introduced into white spaces what I and so many black women are forced to endure in regards to healthcare.  

TH11_finalconsume.png

Discretion and ease of use are very important to me in choosing a consumption method, so I love edibles and things like capsules and tincture. I’m into gadgets and unique products. I’m all about smart vape batteries, gorgeous stash containers and accessories, and really fun mediums of consumption like teas and gums. I am also warming up to vaping, especially with batteries like the O2 Vari-Vape XL and PKTD One Plus, which allows for more control in regards to temperature. Although I love flower, it is not a practical method of consumption for me, so it becomes a special treat the rare times that I am able to indulge. If that changes I see a Volcano in my future.

TH12_advice.jpg

The most important thing is to remember that cannabis is still federally prohibited. On a lighter note, sativas are great for chores!