After over twenty-five years of hospital visits, Michael McShane found himself at a crossroads. He could either continue with surgery, removing, part by part, the skin cancer that was slowly decaying his face, or he could try something different. Something had to change. Here’s how this man grew his cure for cancer right in his own backyard.
Just cut me open
An auto engineer by trade, Michael McShane’s life took a very sharp turn in the 1980s. He was diagnosed with HIV, but, back then, having those three capital letters on your medical record was something akin to a death sentence. To doctors, McShane’s life looked bleak.
HIV co-opts the immune system, preventing the body from fighting off infection. This makes patients more susceptible to illnesses like pneumonia, tuberculosis, and cancer. As predicted, McShane developed cancer a few short years after the onset of HIV.
He had an aggressive cancer of the neck. As a result, part of his jugular vein was removed.
The surgery left McShane temporarily mute. He had to learn to talk for the second time in his life. He also received radiation treatment, which burned and left him in pain. Then, like dominoes, McShane’s health started failing one major illness at a time.
After neck cancer came colon cancer. Then came more surgery and chemotherapy. Next came the skin cancer, Squamous cell carcinoma. McShane, once again, became a candidate for surgery.
All the while, he continued to take medications to manage his HIV, none of which are cheap. His health was taking a huge financial toll, tallying over one million dollars. And the treatments just kept coming.
Grow your own cure
McShane was familiar with cannabis prior to cancer. In fact, he was an authorized medical cannabis patient in his home of Detroit, Michigan. He used the plant to manage symptoms of nausea, pain, and general malaise, as many cannabis patients do. But, one day, at a dispensary event, he heard something that struck a chord.
There was a fellow in particular that was always talking about the oil being kind of “do anything”. […] One day I approached him squarely and said, “Look, I want to ask you this one question and try to keep it between the lines here, does [cannabis oil] work on cancer?” And he said “Yes, that’s what I’ve been talking about this whole time!”
McShane’s cancer had just returned. After trying all of the conventional methods, he had nothing else to lose. He got together with a couple of people and began making and eating Rick Simpson Oil (RSO). RSO is a highly concentrated full plant extract, the cannabis plant’s essential oils. McShane began to apply the oil topically as well as ingested it internally.
I started trying the oil and it seemed to have some traction against the cancer. It seemed to have an effect and the cancer was going away.
McShane’s story, with the initial support of his dermatologist, blew up all over Detroit. McShane was featured on State and National news outlets, sharing the amazing healing powers of medical cannabis. After six weeks of treatment with nothing but cannabis, McShane no longer needed surgery. His cancer was decreased by nearly 60 percent.
At several points in his now long life, McShane has been told that he was on the verge of death. Instead, he somehow managed to scrape by, one surgery at a time, until he found cannabis.
It’s pretty disturbing to find that you might have had some safer alternatives to try prior to making that decision. Had I had that information at the time, I wouldn’t be in the position that I’m in, which is a victim of a lot of surgeries, the chemotherapies, and all those sorts of things. You can’t reverse that, that’s not something you can take back.
An outlaw history
Unfortunately, you’ll be hard pressed to find doctors or medical professionals that will say that cannabis kills cancer. In laboratory and animal models, however, researchers have discovered that cannabis kills cancer cells in four distinct ways.
Preclinical evidence shows that some cannabis compounds keep tumor cells from proliferating, developing blood vessels, and migrating around the body. They have also been found to cause cancer cells to commit suicide, a natural process referred to as apoptosis by the science community.
Yet, the plant’s status as an illicit substance limits researchers in many parts of the world from access to cannabis plants or samples. This means that more advanced research on cannabis treatments in human cancer patients is nonexistent and no firm scientific conclusions can be drawn. In some countries, like the U.K. and Israel, cannabis access is restricted to a handful of institutions and cannot be grown, processed, or consumed by individuals in their homes.
Cannabis is outlawed even though the herb is thought to be one of the oldest cultivated agricultural crops. Texts date human’s early interactions with the plant as far back 12,000 years ago. Other reported research suggests that ancient humans used to eat raw cannabis flowers and seeds, as well as used the plant as a medicinal herb.
It’s surprising that cannabis had gone from a recreational thing, a pretty negative thing to something that really helped me. This is the polar opposite of everything that I had heard for 50 years of my life.
The big bust
After successfully reducing his skin cancer with cannabis oil, McShane was obsessed.
I got so interested in the oil I absolutely lost interest in my career. It had no bearing whatsoever. Once I saw this oil miracle occurred, it was all in for me. That was it. It changed my life and that’s what I’ve been doing ever since.
At one point, McShane grew six pounds of cannabis and transformed it into 280 grams of oil over the course of five months. Then, he ate it. Over time, he pulled himself off of his HIV medication and fired his doctors.
To me, everything was just so fraudulent at this point. The whole thing started to break down on me.
McShane started making cannabis oil for others and demand was high.
I was getting money sent to me in paper bags from all over the country. People were pleading with me, would I please make oil for them.
Some people wanted as much as a pound. One of their patrons was the family of a little girl with brain cancer, who is still alive today after receiving cannabis oil.
I had cancer for so long that, as soon as I saw something work it just took over.
Pretty soon, McShane was all about cannabis oil. He took every media opportunity he could get, shouting about this plant from the rooftops.
If you look at my Facebook, I just go off like a Roman candle about this stuff.
With all of his enthusiasm, McShane attracted some unwanted attention. Pretty soon, his house was raided. Not for cannabis, which he was authorized to grow with a medical cannabis recommendation, but for an old gun collection.
His front door was knocked down and his roommate was pulled from his room. McShane was threatened with two years of imprisonment and eventually lost his home. So, he packed up moved to California.
A plea for medical cannabis oil
McShane found himself in a struggle for bare life. He was not fighting to access a certain lifestyle, nor was he seeking just another way to make money off of the sick and desperate. McShane just wanted to live, period, and he wants others to live, too.
At the heart of this struggle lies cannabis. A simple flower entangled in an abstract place wedged somewhere in between politics, personal interests, power, and sheer survival.
[Cancer drugs] are some of the most expensive medicines in the world. And that doesn’t make sense that I can make that kind of a statement.
Cannabis business is now one of the fastest-growing industries in the United States. In a world of commercialized and boutique cannabis products, McShane’s story reminds us that cannabis is first and foremost a healing plant. Nutritious, potentially life-saving, and easy enough to grow by yourself in the garden.
While in Detroit, McShane was giving patients cannabis oil in large batches, each made from several different strains that he grew himself.
In California, one of the largest cannabis producing regions in the world, things were different.
I came out to San Diego with the idea of this missionary work in regards to making oil. The messages were already being mixed that CBD is for cancer, which may or may not work, but that’s not what we were doing. We were doing high THC oil for cancer, a regular Rick Simpson-style protocol.
As McShane explains, sick patients need high quantities of affordable full-plant cannabis extracts. “It takes a higher titration to treat things like cancer than it would other ailments,” says McShane.
Today’s burgeoning legal market, however, is flooded with single gram doses, small quantities of dried flower, and expensive isolates sold over the internet. The State of California allows cities to outlaw outdoor cultivation, limiting individuals to expensive indoor setups. In Washington state, no home cultivation is legal.
California’s Proposition 64 also limits the sale and possession of cannabis concentrate to eight grams. At one point, eight grams would be less than a three-day supply of medicine for McShane.
Potency caps on edibles, which are limited to 10 grams per serving, also mean that medical cannabis patients may have to eat significantly more than a 2,000 calorie diet to get even their most basic dose of THC. As it stands now, legal cannabis is not designed to meet the needs of medical cannabis patients.
Cancer is a life and death situation. It’s not the difference between sending your kid to space camp or buying a new Mercedes, it’s really about just living life at the most fundamental level and getting in tune with nature.
We were unable to access marijuana for 80 years, and it was taken away by the same people we’re giving it back to. It just doesn’t work.
Perhaps it’s time to move farther from the trees to see the whole forest. So others may live.