Uplifted Local: Kim of Ventura

From the Paradise Fire to cancer, Kim’s story about her family coming together during difficult times is inspiring, but also heavy. With hesitation, but good intentions, Kim’s family turned to cannabis for relief and connection. Kim’s persistence — – combined with professional education and support – brought some degree of peace to her family throughout an otherwise challenging situation.

We bring you this story so that you and our community at large can bring similar help and relief to friends and loved ones. It is not always easy to bring up these topics and at times it can be very difficult to talk to friends and family about cannabis, even if you are only trying to help. There is much to learn from Kim’s approach and success in breaching these topics with her family and we hope that her story encourages those that could use it.

Kim’s Story

You have an amazing story surrounding the Paradise Fire, the struggle your family faced, and how you stuck together. Could you share how this time in your life has brought you to where you are now?

We lost our entire community and way of life on November 8, 2018 to the Camp Fire-California’s deadliest and most destructive disaster of all time. We were displaced together. Everything was gone. Everyone was gone. We were uprooted from all healthcare, employment, housing, everything. We had to relocate for our own well-being and livelihood. My husband, two children and parents were all affected.

Unfortunately, the fire wasn’t the end of your story for trouble facing your family. Could you speak more to how your mother’s cancer has effected your family?

After losing her doctors and hospital, my Mom was displaced for a year. She was seen just before moving down to Ventura and had a small amount of skin cancer frozen off in a neighboring city. It never healed.

She moved to Ventura and established with a primary doctor here, who very unfortunately missed her diagnosis. She had a heart stent after an angioplasty and was put on blood thinners. The skin cancer kept growing.

COVID shut down surgical centers. When they reopened, she was not given a surgical option due to blood thinners, cardiac history, and Lupus. The cancer grew. My mother received radiation; it grew more. The cancer had metastasized, but we didn’t know it yet. 

Mom then had a major surgery done at UCLA. She suffered from a CVA (stroke), but miraculously regained strength — only to find out that the cancer was now in the right lobe of her lung. More radiation… then her head tumor grew back. At that point, surgery was no longer an option. My mother’s eventual death will be from squamous cell cancer due to the loss of medical resources, displacement, missed diagnosis, and delayed/improper treatment.

In looking for relief for your mother and those taking care of her, you mentioned that your parents swore off cannabis long ago and that there was much hesitation to use it today. What were the steps that you took to help guide your family to a point to where they were comfortable using it again?

My parents were products of the sixties: drugs, sex, and rock and roll. When they gave their lives to Christ (way back when), they gave all of that up.  They steered clear of any mind-altering substances for decades. However, after all the surgeries, pain, and ailments (both physically and mentally), cannabis seemed like a great option for them. 

They were educated on the healing and medicinal properties of cannabis, but didn’t want to get high. The folks at Sespe Creek recommended The Claudia Jensen Center where my parents saw Dr. Margaret Peterson.  She was able to guide them through the uses of cannabis in a professional, clinical manner. Having an MD educate them on the science and data behind cannabis really awakened them to the possibilities of pain and emotional relief!  Breakthrough. 

In Mom’s case, for debilitating pain and fatigue, it can be used conjointly with traditional pain relief methods.

Having to “come out” to your parents as a cannabis user or trying to “push” them to use cannabis must have been intimidating. Can you share more about this experience and about what you did to overcome it to help others that are in the same situation?

I tried edibles and tinctures for my anxiety relief after living through the fire.  I became familiar with the products at Sespe Creek and it has helped sustain me through the emotional turbulence of losing my mom’s battle to cancer.  It has also helped my dad with back pain, sleep disturbances and chronic pain issues.  After they had an official doctor’s appointment and proper education on using cannabis, they felt comfortable to try edibles and tinctures too.

You have made so much progress, but things have taken a tough turn. Where is your family now, how is cannabis helping, and what are you doing to move forward?

Mom is terminal.  The wound on her head will only get worse.  It has been hard to watch.  She now has home health and wound care, palliative care.  We are all using cannabis to get through the pain, stress, grief, migraines, sleepless nights, etc.  There is no more stigma.  Only the help and support of a natural method of pain/anxiety relief.

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