My story – Clark French
The last year my life has changed dramatically, like no other year before it. Life has changed to the extent that i’m no longer really the same person I was a year ago – I’ve had the hardest time of my life, by a long shot, but I’ve come out the other side a much stronger and more mature person. This is most definitely not meant to be a Sad story – I hope it will come across as the Opposite.
On the 19th of February this year, 6 months to to day I was myself diagnosed, I formed a new MS non profit organisation called Action4MS.
I wanted to help other young people who have been diagnosed with MS, I was lucky when it came to knowing where to find the help I needed after I was diagnosed, mainly though family history as my Mother and Late step father both have/had the disease. I Decided to set up my own group as I believe there is a huge demographic of people in the UK that are under the age of 40 and do live in silence with their symptoms, maybe a few close friends and family know but some do not feel able to let the world at large know, which in turn means they are much less likely to have treatments to help their symptoms. So I recognised a need for an on the ground approach to help other young People who have the same problems as me. Because I grew up around my mothers and step fathers MS I know how difficult it can be seeing someone you love struggle though such an awful disease Action4MS aims to help all young people effected by MS not just those who have been themselves diagnosed. I had to do this myself and not with any existing MS charities and set up Action4MS partly down to the medicine that I use, that makes me able to achieve my life goals, dispute my diagnosis.
MS is a disease of the central nervous system where by your immune system essentially attacks the body’s nervous system causing all manner of symptoms, because the Nervous system has such a vast role in the functioning of the body no one person will experience the same symptoms, which means it is quite hard to diagnose without MRI scans or a Lumber Puncture.
Its a long story of how I got to the day I was diagnosed, a story I can only touch briefly on due to time restraints, but one I endeavor to write another time. Whist having several relapses I completed my final exams at Reading University and was diagnosed with MS in the august of 2010. It was a very difficult time in my life, I felt a burden to all around me, I rarely spoke of how much pain I was in and I would only ask for help as a last resort. Once I was diagnosed I Got all the help I could from everywhere that I could get it. I have several treatments at a local MS centre, I have counseling at Reading r University, Im now completing my degree and working towards applying for a Research Masters in Archaeology at the University Of Reading. I try to lead as active a roll as I can. How do I do all this while having MS i hear you proclaim?
Well I shall let you into my secret – Cannabis, Yes this illegal drug that were told is so evil, has in fact made me able to live my life day to day managing my symptoms. I would have loved to have worked for a number of the current MS organisations – But unfortunately the law means that they are unwilling to speak about cannabis, even though they themselves know the benefits, the Law stops them from saying anything about cannabis, simply because it’s illegal.
I wanted to get onto the Cannabis activism scene, but I had to find a way which I could try and help other young people effected by MS but still campaign for my Rights to use cannabis as a medicine. At present I’m considered a criminal for using cannabis. Because of Cannabis I don’t have to use many prescription drugs other then a few pain killers for very bad times. Action4MS won’t campaign for legalisation of cannabis, but it will seek to be a means of information for people with MS to make up their own minds about cannabis – this of course means showing the “other” side of cannabis. But what it does mean is that I can campaign for my rights without fear of damaging the reputation of an already existing charitable cause. Many MS organisations have helped me, and I hope to be able to provide similar on the ground help to the people who need it. This way any bad reputation from my cannabis activism will not fall on an existing organisation as they all do such a fantastic job.
Under UK law I am a criminal – I have MS and cannabis is a proven medicine – the science is there to show that cannabis does have medicinal proprieties when Multiple sclerosis is concerned. I am no criminal – I am sick and I make my life live-able by using cannabis. Without it I would not have the hope that I now feel when all I could see was darkness and pain only 6 months ago.
This is an extract from the MS trusts Website, about cannabis based medicine, the full article can be read here www.mstrust.org.uk
“Results from this trial suggested that cannabis-based medicine had some effect over the longer period of time on muscle spasticity, most notably in the group taking dronabinol, when compared with Cannador and placebo.2
2In addition, there was some suggestion that dronabinol and Cannador might delay some people’s increase in disability over a period of time. The CUPID trial is investigating this possible effect more fully.”
I have a life back, and cannabis has played a huge part in that,
Cannabis saves – I’m living proof.
It should be a crime to prevent seriously ill people from receiving the treatments that actually work, Under the current law I am a criminal for using a substance that has been scientifically proven to help with many of the symptoms of MS. I will campaign for the right for people who need it to use cannabis as a medicine until Prohibition ends, or until I can no longer do so.
On my journey i may get trampled on by the man – but at least I can say I stood for something.
(written for Ismoke issue4 out in may)