A cancer patient in agonising pain has shared graphic pictures of his tumour-scarred back as he calls for cannabis to be legalised.
When Wollongong father Paul Lawrence, 53, wakes up in the morning he feels like he has been ‘hit by a train’.
Six years ago doctors discovered a rare and massive tumour, known as a chordoma, growing from his spine and crushing his spinal cord.
‘I was given a month to live. I was announced inoperable,’ Mr Lawrence told Daily Mail Australia.
‘(But) I was fortunate enough to get recommended to a doctor willing to give it a go.’
So in a marathon surgery doctors at Prince of Wales Hospital sliced him open ‘like a zipper’ removing three vertebrae and the mass the size of a football.
The cancer and the surgery – which saw titanium rods inserted into his spine – has left the education trainer in excruciating pain.
‘That s*** doesn’t fix itself,’ he said. ‘That s*** hurts every single day.’
But there is one thing that helps – marijuana.
The rare chordoma tumour was crushing his spinal cord (pictured) under its immense weight and has left a painful legacy
The father-of-one said he realised cannabis was the answer after emerging from a ‘cloud’ of painkillers a couple of years after the operation.
He said while his prescribed painkillers worked, they were making him so ill he was unable to be a good parent for his 10-year-old son.
‘I wasn’t functioning as a parent. They were making me ill. They were literally killing me,’ Mr Lawrence said.
‘I had a hangover for 2.5 days and vomited violently and sweated (for days) for taking sleeping pills and painkillers for too long.
‘I couldn’t get out of bed to take the kid to school.’
Meanwhile, the only side effects of his regular cannabis use was he gets tired and hungry, he said – while the painkillers would ‘ruin me’.
Mr Lawrence, the face of a forthcoming pro-cannabis protest, is calling for the drug to be completely legalised to help other pain patients in situations like his own.
The state New South Wales is currently conducting a trial scheme for people with terminal illnesses to use cannabis to alleviate their pain, although Mr Lawrence does not believe it goes far enough.
And the Federal Government passed laws last month allowing the growth of medicinal cannabis – although critics argued it is still classed as an illicit drug.
Mr Lawrence said he suffers ‘mindnumbing, constant’ pain and using cannabis helped him psychologically.
‘The pain is pretty mindnumbing. It’s constant… It’s hard to distract yourself from it.
‘Just smoking pot gives you the opportunity to psychologically break a little bit away from the pain and bring about a pain free barrier.
‘It’s just giving your mind the opportunity to drift away from it.’
A National Cannabis Prevention and Information Centre fact sheet warns the drug has been linked to mental health problems such as psychosis, anxiety and depression.
Mr Lawrence will appear at a ‘Free Cannabis NSW’ protest on April 9.