Testimony of Kathy Rippentrop

Kathy Rippentrop

Kathy Rippentrop saw the benefit of medical marijuana first hand while her mother was suffering and dying from an aggressive cancer.

Good afternoon, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee. My name is Kathy Rippentrop and I appreciate the opportunity to speak in support of the medical marijuana bill today.

My mother, Jane Schmidt, was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer inNovember 2003 and was given about a year to live. Mom went through many surgeries and many hospitals. She had a section of her colon removed and then the right half of her liver. A year later, they removed more of her liver and later part of a lung, part of her diaphragm, and a large glob of cancer that had wrapped around the main blood vessel that fed her lower torso. She caught MERSA, a flesh-eating virus, while in the hospital, so recovering from each surgery became much more complicated.

Mom tolerated the first full series of chemo quite well. However, the pills she was prescribed for the vomiting cost $100 each, were only about 75% effective, took 30 minutes to start working, and were not covered by insurance. And they did nothing at all for her dwindling appetite. Another surgery and a second series of chemo took its toll. Mom was withering away to nothing with no appetite. She suffered serious stomach sickness and found it extremely hard to stay in a positive frame of mind. That’s when afriend of my Dad’s suggested marijuana.

My dad is a recovering alcoholic and drug user, 30 years clean, and was highly reluctant to bring an illegal substance into the house. But after watching Mom suffer for another few days, he had his friend procure some. My family will tell you that the only miracle drug for cancer is marijuana. Two puffs, two minutes, and the violent sickness was totally gone. An hour later, Mom was able to have a good meal. The stomach problems from the chemo were totally gone. It also helped her regain a quality of life that allowed her to continue to fight. Unless you’re dying yourself or you’re very close to somebody who is, it’s extremely hard to imagine how depressing debilitating illness can be. Dying is bad but dying in sickness and pain is much worse.

Mom ended up living for four and a half more years. She would never have survived the second year without medical marijuana. With it, she was able to keep fighting and was even able to travel overseas before the end. In the 12 months before she died, she visited Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Mexico, Cuba, and Greece. These were all lifelong dreams that she was able to fulfill only because of medical marijuana.

When a loved one is suffering, you do whatever you can to ease her pain.There’s simply no reason that this safe, effective medicine should not be available to those who need it. I strongly urge the committee to support this compassionate legislation.

Thank you.