JAMI ARBON DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS | BOTANICAL L ABS | PORTL AND
Can you tell me a little bit about the complexity of your diagnosis? In November of 2018, I was diagnosed with triple-negative
breast cancer. Cancer works kind of like our cannabinoid receptors in that cancer cells and tumors have receptors. The ones that they’ve identified for breast cancer - estrogen, progestin and the HER2 protein - are like keys to the lock (if you will). They’ve got a lot of drugs out there that are targeting all the different kinds of breast cancers that may have one or more receptors, but when you’re triple-negative it means none of those receptors are present for your tumor. Treatment options are much more limited. It tends to be a more aggressive form of cancer and tends to come back more often. I went through just your standard care (chemo, surgery and radiation), so I’m crossing my fingers that it doesn’t come back.
“I USE DABS AND FLOWER, BUT FOR ME, I THINK THE BIGGEST HELP HAS BEEN RSO AND ACUPUNCTURE!”
What role has Cannabis played in your life? The Empower Soaking Salts have also been a
favorite of mine for all of the different aches and pains. The soaks really helped during chemo. I use dabs and flower, but for me, I think the biggest help has been RSO and acupuncture! I make my own RSO. I truly believe that the reason my after-effects have been a lot less severe than many other women that have gone through the same treatment is that I’ve taken RSO every day. I will say, if Cannabis cured cancer, then I probably never would have gotten it in the first place but it’s been a lifeline to keep me going through all the different changes that your body goes through.
When it comes to your experience with Cannabis, what advice would you give other folks battling breast cancer?
As far as a triple-negative diagnosis goes, the high doses seem to be helpful. I hesitate to tell folks to dive right into high THC doses when talking to just any breast cancer patient though. Like chemotherapy, Cannabis is a drug. Estrogen-positive breast cancers are NOT recommended to use THC because tumors might actually grow more rapidly with THC therapy. When you use Cannabis in conjunction with other Western medication, oftentimes the dose that you initially get is too high. Your body doesn’t need as much because Cannabis helps you use the drugs a little bit more efficiently. It’s something to keep in mind, and the reason I hesitate to tell any breast cancer patient to just dive right in with RSO. Like any disease or drug that you’re working with, it’s really important to figure out what’s best for you. What’s scary is that your doctor isn’t always the right person to ask…
>> From cultivating a career to battling breast cancer, Jami Arbon
has continually pursued her passion for the plant - with Cannabis playing a pivotal role throughout her journey. Hailing from Albuquerque, New Mexico, and moving around “all four corners of the country,” Jami ended up on the West Coast in 2010. She attended Oaksterdam University in California and quickly brought her honors from Cannabis college back to Oregon - a place her family had called home since 1995. The move led her to a dispensary management job, and most recently, a position as Director of Operations at Botanical Labs in Portland.
It can be daunting to discuss Cannabis use with your doctor. Can you talk about your experience with this task?
The medical community still views Cannabis users as druggies. Legally, any hospital or medical organization that gets federal funding cannot tell you that it’s okay to use Cannabis because if they do, they can lose their funding. I didn’t realize that until after I had this big fight with the head of oncology. She basically told me that she didn’t want me to use Cannabis because she didn’t know about it. I asked for a new doctor and I think she assigned me to a lowerlevel oncologist as a sort of punishment because I was frustrating. But can I just tell you: I love him! He listened to me a little bit better and was like, ‘Yeah, use Cannabis. I’ve been reading studies about it! I cannot legally recommend it to you, but I’m not gonna tell you to stop it either.’ Communicating with your doctor is still a problem though, even in legalized states where the stigma should be more lifted.
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INTERVIEW by AMANDA DAY @TERPODACTYL_MEDIA | PHOTO by @RESINATED_LENS