Stacy Bobak, RDH
EduCanNation Secretary & Treasurer
Certified Cannabis Educator
Recognized Cannabis Industry Specialist
Medical Cannabis Patient & Breast Cancer Survivor
International Public Speaker
Hello everyone, my name is Stacy Bobak. I’m proud to be one of the co-founders of EduCanNation. Here is my story about how I became a cannabis patient and a certified cannabis educator.
As a registered dental hygienist, I’ve always been fascinated by how the body works. My background is in healthcare and I enjoy learning about the science of things.
When it comes to experimenting with cannabis as medicine, the same fascination remains. My passion stems from a determination to learn about how and why this plant works as a medicine in the body.
Despite casually consuming it when I was younger, I hadn’t put too much thought into the purpose of cannabis in my life until I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the young age of 31.
I was undergoing multiple surgeries, chemotherapy, and radiation; all of which came with the need to take a number of pharmaceutical medications. Each prescription brings undesirable side effects and those side effects impact my work and daily routine. Sore joints, mood irregularities, my energy, and my concentration are off. I suffer from hot flashes under the protection of a mask, glasses, face shield, beanie cap on my head, and gloves on my hands - not to mention the full-length gown (think shower curtain meets hospital gown) with scrubs underneath, as I twist and turn my body into the mouths of my clients.
When I heard the words “it’s cancer”, I was prepared to do whatever I had to do to survive this disease, but when I was told that this treatment plan would span a five-year period and that the side effects of the prescribed medications would be “unbearable” (my oncologist’s words) and that prescription pain meds would be needed, I decided to seek alternative ways to help prevent and best deal with the unbearable side effects. My peers and a few dental patients were the ones who first suggested that cannabis might help.
I was familiar with the euphoric effects of cannabis, but not the medicinal benefits, so I dove into the research. Due to the prohibition of cannabis at the time, the research and information was not easy for me to access as a curious cancer patient. My oncologist was not recommending it for me, based on her research-based information; however, I had heard some researchers speaking to its effect on nausea that is induced by chemotherapy so I met with a naturopathic oncologist who referred me to a medical cannabis clinic to get a second opinion.
Getting an appointment was going to take a little while. My first round of bisphosphonate infusions was coming up quickly and I wanted to be prepared with cannabis, to have as an alternative to the prescription pain medications my oncologist had prescribed. I knew from experience after surgery and through a difficult hospital stay, that I did not like the side effects of percocet, and that I did not react as planned to the post-surgery medications they typically prescribe. I’d been feeling stuck, having to put my body into such a state, and I wanted an alternative that would still allow me to function at my best, despite my body being abruptly put into chemical menopause.
It was my husband who found a local cannabis dispensary. I removed my sunglasses (as per the sign on the door), provided my drivers licence (they proceeded to document my information), and after a good talk with the budtender, I bought a vape pen and oil capsules from what I now realize was an illegal cannabis storefront. What I remember about the place is the informed employees who cared about the patients coming through the door and how knowledgeable they were about the products they were selling. They sold dry flower, oils, and concentrates. They took the time to help me understand the differences in the products. I was grateful they were there.
As I experimented with the products, I learned firsthand how my body reacts to high levels of THC. Without any guidance, I struggled to find a balance between pain relief and sleep. I needed to get information from a medical professional to understand these reactions better. I finally got an appointment at the medical cannabis clinic.
I remember that first appointment; darting eyes in the waiting room from patients who were clearly suffering, there was a young woman at the front desk directing the flow of patients as I waited my turn to provide a urine sample. All I wanted was to speak to someone about cannabis as medicine!
I was sitting in a small room with a large computer monitor, my list of questions in hand, when a doctor appeared on the screen via Skype. He obviously didn’t have time to answer my questions, based on his hurriedness in providing authorization and suggesting I speak with the clinic nurse following our brief call. I did my best to advocate for myself, while learning about how to access cannabis through the website. There were so many products and it seemed like the choice shouldn’t be up to me for what to try. I wasn’t provided with instructions for how to take it, how much to take, nor how often. The options were too overwhelming. I felt the need to learn more before I purchased my first medical cannabis order.
My experience accessing cannabis for medicinal purposes was not what I expected. I didn’t understand why it was so difficult to access information about the therapeutic benefits of the plant. I discussed this with a friend, who suggested I accompany her to cannabis conferences. There, I could meet the people behind the companies who were producing cannabis products for patients like me and I could learn through the conversations and presentations at these events. I started attending conferences in 2018. My eyes were opened to the fact that there were people out there talking about cannabis for health and wellness. There were ways that I, as a consumer, could get educated about the science that was being done to support the use of this plant.
Soon after that, I learned that I could take a college-level cannabis course! Finally, some credible cannabis information to clear up my questions. I studied the medical foundations of cannabis, adult-use cannabis, law and ethics of cannabis, the business of cannabis, and how to become a cannabis educator. I absorbed all of the content from cannabis 101 through to dosing and setting goals for medical cannabis patients and used this information to tailor my own treatment plan. All of a sudden, I had two certificates with my name on them, giving me credibility to be able to teach what I had learned.
I set myself on a mission to teach other patients who were in the same boat that I was - desperate to learn how and why this plant can be consumed therapeutically. The science is fascinating and I am feeling completely fulfilled in my role as a cannabis educator. I help patients and healthcare professionals learn all about cannabis. Now I get to work with the people I used to sit in front of at cannabis conferences. I help create course content and deliver it! I am supported by a team of talented, knowledgeable educators who support each other and who share the mission of providing the highest standard of responsible cannabis education, so that everyone can benefit and learn.
Despite the difficulties I faced as a cancer patient, I’m happy to say that I was able to learn from each hurdle and that is what keeps me moving forward on my journey each and every day. I consume cannabis with intention, for wellness and balance. I am confident in my knowledge and I will continue learning and sharing my message in hopes of inspiring others.
Thank you for reading my story and for supporting EduCanNation.