Living in small-town Alberta, it wasn’t easy to find a doctor to sign me on to the MMAR program. However, I was friends with Michelle Rainey. Michelle had already been diagnosed with cancer and was fighting her own battle but was still helping as many people as she could. I too was sending out medical forms for others and helping patients with paper work but at that time we had limited resources.
In 2009 I’d had tests but was still waiting for a doctor. I continued doing what I could for advocacy. At the Global Marijuana March that year I wasn’t feeling very well. Shortly thereafter I found out I was pregnant with my fourth child.
For that year’s Free Marc Emery event I protested pregnant and hosted Marc and Jodie Emery for their Farewell Tour pregnant, too. I had my son in December 2009 and then really felt under the gun for getting my MMAR.
I had to protect our son. I was never ‘happy’ about being eligible for the program—I feel it’s everyone’s right to smoke, grow or trade it, whatever it’s a plant. I believed then in a legalized market like I do today: as free to grow as tomatoes and to use like the herb that it is. But I had to protect our son from prohibition.
Educating doctors in local areas was something that Michelle was passionate about and she gave out advice and sent along Health Canada packages for me to assist with by the dozens. When her offer came to help me as well I was elated.
She knew how I felt about the medical program: that it kept the rest of the country in prohibition. Michelle told me to hold true to my convictions, but convinced me that by being legal as a patient I could be louder, I could speak for those who couldn’t, and could help those who needed it. She encouraged me to get my tests redone—a colonoscopy, not a fun procedure—and I knew she would help me get to a doctor no matter what.
The night before I was scheduled for my retest I sent her off an email, telling Michelle how scared I was but again thanking her for all of her support and wishing her well.
The next day I had a friend drop me off at the Taber hospital early in the morning and I went in for my tests.
When I was done I went home and was hit with the news that Michelle had passed away. It was October 20th, 2010. I was devastated. My mentor was gone. Michelle was someone I had never met in person—the weekend we were finally to meet I was too ill to travel—but she had been a light, a guide, a supporter, and a friend. I don’t think she ever knew how much of an influence she had been on me.
I will never forget the day she left and I think of her so often. Some days when I feel I am at the end of my rope, I just think of how she fought for her life, and how she fought for so many others’ lives. And I know I have to keep fighting and to never give up!
So when I travelled to Ottawa for a patient protest on Parliament Hill in January 2011 I found a kind soul to take me out to Cole Hill, where I was able to see a compassionate doctor that signed my MMAR.
I jumped back on the plane to Alberta with copies of my paperwork, the express post receipt from submitting, and a fresh ounce of cannabis. I flew home without an issue, munching cookies all the way! Ten weeks to the day, on April 1, 2011 I had my pink papers in my hand and I thought I was invincible.