JRTA: What does Cannabis mean to you?
Barbara: Where do I even start. As a Survivor of Stage 3b Invasive Ductal Carcinoma, a type of Breast Cancer, I credit a lot of my survival to Cannabis. My diagnosis unknowingly jump started my Activism on Cannabis and Cancer. I was Diagnosed on my 31st birthday and told I was too young to have Breast Cancer. I had my Doctor of 4 years laugh at me and tell me I must have an infection. Upon my insistence, I was sent to get a Mammogram only to be told again, I was too young for my Insurance Company to pay for a Mammogram for me. I paid out of my pocket only to find out what I already knew inside. I indeed had Breast Cancer. I was told I had to do Chemotherapy, as well as have my Breast or Breasts removed and then have Radiation Treatment because my Cancer was very aggressive. I began researching the benefits of Cancer and Cannabis and learned of it’s many therapeutic applications. It has fantastic anti-inflammatory, anti-nausea, mood stabilizing properties which is everything I needed at the time. I endured 18 months of IV Chemotherapy and during that time I used Cannabis in oil form as well as smoking it to reduce my pain and nausea. I was able to eat like normal. I would actually sit in my Chemo chair and eat things like Spicy Jambalaya while everyone in the room stared at me and wondered what I was doing different. I began sharing my illegal Cannabis usage with my Doctor’s and Nurses and my Oncology Team and I got overwhelmingly positive responses. That is when I began going to the Texas State Capital and attending free meetings to learn to Lobby my Representatives for Policy and Law change.
JRTA: Where did you pick up your public speaking skills?
Barbara: That’s a great question. Funny story. I used to be completely terrified to speak in public. I would intentionally flunk assignments in school because I was so afraid to speak in front of a group of people. After my first trip to the Texas Capital in Austin I was approached by the Executive Director of DFW NORML, which is the Dallas Fort Worth Chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, and he told me that he was very impressed with how I left the Lobby class and went right into a Representatives Office and spoke like an old pro as he watched. He asked me if I would be interested in speaking at an upcoming event “The Cowtown Cannabis Rally.” I agreed very nervously, and he gave me some pointers on sitting down to write me speech. I spent about 2 weeks writing it, and perfecting it and I attended one of the NORML monthly meetings. At that meeting I was asked to deliver my speech for the Cowtown Cannabis rally. I was so nervous, but I agreed and got up on the stage and delivered my speech. The entire room was in tears by the time I was done, and erupted into applause. I was approached at that meeting by a teacher at Dallas Tech college of Pharmacology and he asked me if I would be interested in delivering my speech on Campus to the Pharmacy Students…I agreed and made it my mission to speak as often as I could and become better each time. The rest is history….I still get nervous everytime I speak to a crowd but I have noticed that I get a rush of excitement much like riding a roller coaster after I am finished! Which I quite enjoy.
JRTA: What advice do you have for people with stage fright?
Barbara: The advice I can most give to people with stage fright is to just do it. There is no time like the present. Life is so short and precious, you never really know when you will take your last breath. What really made me go for it was staring death in it’s face. I really thought I was going to die. I used to have a lot of anxiety before my diagnoses and what I learned from fighting for my life was that there is nothing scary anymore once you have faced death. To me death is the ultimate thing that most people are afraid of in life. I feel like I was given a new lease on life so to speak. I plan of using it to my full advantage. This life is so short in the scheme of things when you think about how long the Earth has been around, and how long it will be around once we are dead and gone. We are just a blip in time. When I am afraid of something I ask myself 2 questions. 1.) Is this dangerous, am I putting my life at risk? If no, I move to question 2.) Will doing this benefit myself or someone else? The answer to #2 is always yes when I am getting on stage, because no matter the reason you are there whether for entertainment or public speaking like myself, you are always helping someone in your own special way.
JRTA: What is “Texans for THC”?
Barbara: Texans for THC is a group I founded and created. Since my original Cancer Diagnoses I have been very busy! I have served as Patient Outreach Coordinator for DFW NORML and I have lobbied in 2 different Texas Legislative Sessions for Cannabis Reform. I have given Keynote speeches at Press Conferences at the Capital and have learned so much as far as strategy for this next Legislative Session coming forward and I started Texans for THC so that I could implement everything I learned into a teaching tool for others. I resigned from my position as Patient Outreach Coordinator for DFW NORML so I could focus my time on growing Texans For THC and having meetings both in person in DFW and around Texas and online for people and patients who cannot attend in person due to illness or geographic location. I will be teaching others how to change laws in regards to Cannabis. The group is open to anyone, you do not have to live in Texas to learn something from the group or the meetings. I will have the help of someone I respect very much, her name is Tracy Ansley. She taught me a lot of what I currently know about Texas Laws and Cannabis reform. Right now everything Texans for THC does and I do for lobbying is funded personally by myself. An Activists life is hard work, and for many comes deep from within their hearts. For me, it’s not about money, it is about helping patients in Texas who need Cannabis. It’s about every child & adult with seizures, Cancer, PTSD, Crohns Disease, AIDS, chronic pain, MS, ect and that is just a short list.
JRTA: How is motherhood?
Barbara: Motherhood is great! I love my kids! They are my life! I fight every day to survive so that I can grow old and watch them get Married and start their own families some day! My daughter was only 1 and a half when I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. I was still Breastfeeding her when I started having pain in my Breast. I ignored it because I thought I was normal, and that is one thing I do regret. Is not going sooner. My kids have had to suffer in their own ways, watching mommy get sick and lose her hair. It was tough for a very long time. They are glad to see that their mommy is doing much better! I have taught them that Cannabis can be medication. I do believe that the World is changing in respect to that. I hope to set the best example of compassion and love for my kids.
JRTA: What are the benefits of Cannabis for cancer patients?
Barbara: The benefits of Cannabis for Cancer Patients are wide, and some given much criticism. For me I can say without a doubt it helped me be able to eat and stay well nourished when my body was at it’s worst. It helped not only curb nausea but totally eliminated it. I did not throw up one single time on 18 months of IV Chemotherapy thanks to Cannabis. It allowed me to remain physically active, and I was able to make trips to the Capital during chemotherapy when I had no hair, and visit my Representatives and give speeches and press conferences. I looked sick on the outside because of the obvious signs but I did not feel sick. After my surgery to remove both of my breasts, It helped with the pain tremendously! Just a month after having them both removed I was at the Capital at that very first meeting that would change my life. There are also studies that show that Cannabis oil in high doses actually causes cell death in tumors. Our brains are equipped with an Endocannabinoid system, with our own Cannabis receptors built into our brain. We are hard wired to use Cannabis. When you injest the oil by eating it, you fill up your Endocannabinoid System in your brain and the remaining THC and CBD then go on to start attacking unhealthy cells like cancer while leaving the healthy cells alone. Which is one thing that Chemotherapy does not do. Chemotherapy attacks all cells, whether they are healthy or not. Which is why many lose their hair for example. I have read many instances and have friends who have cured their inoperable incurable stage 4 terminal cancers with Cannabis oil. Google has a wealth of information, and even the National Cancer Institute has mention of Cannabis and Cancer on it’s .gov website.
JRTA: What are your long term goals?
Barbara: My long term goals are to continue to give speeches on the benefits of Cannabis and Cancer to as many people as I can. At the moment I am trying to raise money to travel to Seattle to Speak at Hempfest the 3rd week of August! There will be over 100,000 attendees at that festival which is the largest of it’s kind in the world! I hope to branch out and make more appearances out of Texas. I would love to eventually work with Cannabis or in the field. I will continue to grow and build Texans For THC and teach as many people as I can the skills they need to change laws where they live. I would like to one day get paid to speak or give motivational speeches on other subjects. I feel that I have gained a lot of life experience, and would love to share what i have learned. In many of my speeches, people comes up to me afterwards and say to me ” I think I have Breast Cancer, and after hearing you speak I am going to go get that checked out.” Men, and women alike. A lot of people don’t know that men can also get breast cancer. It’s not limited to women, and it’s not limited to old women. It’s an important message to share. To save lives. I just want to help people. I am also an artist. I paint. It calms me. I started doing it when I was going through my chemotherapy treatments, and quickly realized that people loved my art! It brings them joy! So I have an art company called Emerge Clothing Gallery by Barbara Humphries. I like to incorporate my paintings onto clothing, and shoes; and jewelry as well as selling canvas paintings. It keeps me busy and at a good emotional level when I am not speaking or making appearances. Willie Nelson owns my first painting “Abstract Cannabis” as a matter of fact.
JRTA: What advice do you have for young entrepreneurs?
Barbara: The best advice I can give is to stay true to yourself and to keep on pushing. There will be a lot of times where you think you will fail, or you think that it will never happen. You just have to keep pushing yourself. Believe in yourself when it seems like everyone else doesn’t. Believe me, when you try to make something of yourself you would be surprised at how many people will root for you to fail. Family members and friends alike. You have to keep that negative thinking away. Work hard at what you do, and practice often. Even when you think you are the best, keep trying to learn new techniques. Never settle, and always try to better yourself. I have learned that happiness for the most part is a state of mind. Tell yourself you are happy when the negative tries to creep in. Tell yourself you will succeed. Believe me, quitters never succeed at anything, so that is the last thing you want to do. Never give up on yourself! Half of my family barely speaks to me. Yes, it is hurtful, but it is something that I have to put in the back of my mind and just keep moving forward. Also. Don’t be safe……Think outside the box, do things that are controversial, get involved in activism. People who are safe, never change the world.